From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. -- John 6: 66 (NIV)
You cannot turn on the television these days without some political pundit expounding on the approaching "fiscal cliff." This term was designed to strike fear and uncertainty into what is probably not as bad a situation was we are being led to believe. When facing the prospect of going over a cliff we are faced with two very distinct truths. The first is that there will be great danger; possibly even to our very lives. Secondly that once you have headed over the cliff -- there is no turning back as there is a pick up in speed and acceleration until the bottom is reached. As Christians, we too must be wary of the cliff; the faith cliff that is. Realize that we have certain forces working against our development in Christ. We are in a spiritual war and the enemies we face, which we remain woefully ignorant of, strive to lead us towards the faith cliff. We must operate in a world that is completely opposed to the God we serve. We live within a flesh that is constantly seeking rebellion against everything we have placed our faith in.
The key verse today is possibly one of the saddest verses in the Bible. In the midst of the ministry of Jesus, He begins to go deeper into the things of God and a great many of His followers fell away. A great many turned their backs and walked away. A great many went over the faith cliff. Within the verses of this story there are several clues we can look at today to better understand what drives us towards the cliff and thus, how we can avoid it. The first such clue is found in verse 60:
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" -- John 6: 60 (NIV)
Nothing will test our faith more than hard teaching. Listen beloved, not everything in the Word of God is welcomed in our soul with open arms. If we were honest with ourselves, there are always portions we question, we doubt, or we wonder about. The majority of the agnostic world simply re-writes those portions that make them uncomfortable or eliminate the verses that convict them of their sin. They essentially recreate God in their own image so they can feel better about their sin. Christians are no different at times. We too can excuse portions of the Bible away, try to create "culturally relevant" arguments, or find any rationalization that will allow us to continue in our sin while claiming the mantle of Christ. This thing called Christianity is not meant to be a part time venture. It isn't a hobby or passing fad. In poker parlance, we are supposed to be "all in." The truth is we have too many part time Christians. People who like to raise their hands on Sunday and raise hell the rest of the week. Realize, sometimes they may not even fancy themselves part time Christians! They may fancy themselves as being "all in" but in reality they are trying to fit Jesus into their lives instead of making their life about Christ.
The Bible tells a story of a man who thought he was "all in" with God. He was a rich young ruler who came to Jesus to justify himself rather than to be saved. He asks Jesus what he needs to do to inherit eternal life and Jesus instructs him back to the commandments. Here is where we see the mindset of the young man:
"Teacher," the man replied, "I've obeyed all these commandments since I was young." -- Mark 10: 20 (NLT)