“Will You Also Go Away?”

“Burn out, zone out, cop out, drop out” are expressions not unfamiliar to us as they describe a psychological, sociological or spiritual phenomenon not new to the 21st century.

We are living in a stress-ridden world and the toll that stress takes upon today’s citizenry seems to increase, multiply or magnify with each passing current breaking news event.

The business world has long dealt with burn out, when executives become unable to concentrate on their jobs, no longer caring about goals that have been set, ceasing to be bothered by mistakes, missing deadlines and generally unproductive.  It’s known as burn out.

Marriages are also plagued with the spiritual and sociological problems of marital relationships becoming “hum-drum,” the glamor and luster of the union becoming dull and weighed down with financial, family and other cares, resulting eventually in a home that is on the rocks.

Even those in ministry have not escaped. Pastors and once committed ministry personnel have begun to leave the ministry in droves. The early 21 century C-19 pandemic exacerbated a problem that had been latently brewing so that one source reported that nearly 50% of those in ministry early on during the C-19 Virus pandemic would not be in ministry by the time it had peaked and generally dissipated. That is an alarming projection.

Saddest of all, I think, is that the Church, His Body of blood-bought believers, has also experienced drop out, cop out or zone out on the part of many members or former participants.

The Pew Research organization recently reported that 65% of the U.S. Population self-identified in 2021 as Christians. In 2007 people identifying themselves as Christians outnumbered those who were “non-Christians” by a 5 to 1 margin. Today, Christians are still in the majority but now the margin is just 2 to 1. We are losing ground, therefore, due to “drop out and zone out” it would seem.  Why?

We can glean some insight into this age-old problem from John’s gospel, chapter 6, verses 61 and following. Jesus, in John chapters 5 and 6 had been teaching a crowd of interested would-be converts some truths that were not easy to “chew.” After sometime of this, we read that some of them began to leave, then more and more left until there were only His apostles still standing to hear Him teach.  It was at that point that Jesus asked the 12, “Will you also go away?”

Some in that initial considerably large crowd had followed Jesus because as they listened to Him, they were hearing a teacher the likes of which they had never before heard. He taught as one who had authority. They not only had heard His mighty teachings; they had witnessed His marvelous miracles. Some, Jesus would reveal, followed Him “not because you saw the miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves (feeding of 5,000), and were filled.” (John 6:26) Plainly, a good many “disciples” that day were in the crowd at first just because their curiosity about Jesus, His messages and miracles, had been piqued.  Eventually, these would drift away and follow Him no more.

Then there were others, also called disciples in the most general sense of the word, who were not merely curious, but also convicted; convicted to the point that they would say, “What sign shewest thou then that we may see, and believe thee?” (John 6:30).  They were more than curious and quite probably under conviction but not where the third possible group was which was composed of those who were convinced. They had heard enough and seen enough that Jesus said that “ye have also seen me, and believe not.” (John 6:36). At some point the crowd that day began to murmur amongst themselves; some of them, Jesus said, considered that His sayings were hard sayings; some of them were offended by what they were hearing and Jesus said, “…there are some of you that believe not.” (John 6:64). “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.” (John 6:66). It was at that point that Jesus queried, “Will ye also go away?” (John 6:67).  Some were curious; some were convinced; some were convicted but most were not converted and all but the 12 (Judas not having betrayed Him as of yet) left Him.  Peter, answering the piercing question of the Master, replied, “To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68,69)

Unbelief has sent more souls out into eternity unprepared to meet God than any other transgression. Don’t let it damn your soul, dear reader friend:

“Could you roll all sins into one mass: could you take murder, and blasphemy and lust and adultery and fornication and everything that is vile and unite them into one vast glob of black corruption—they would not equal even then the sin of unbelief.  This is the monarch sin, the quintessence of guilt, the mixture of the venom of all crimes; the dregs of the wine of Gomorrah; it is the A-1 sin, the masterpiece of Satan, the chief work of the Devil….” (Unknown)

Think of it: people heard the very words of the Master Teacher, Jesus; they saw his miracles with their own eyes; yet, they left following Him and went away unbelieving, rejecting the only person who could save them from eventual, perpetual damnation.

What will you do with Jesus, who is called the Christ?

When Jesus came…He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am…and Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:13,16)

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