by Fr. Luke A. Veronis –
Many people in our society have turned away from faith, from faith communities and from the faith in which they were raised. Yet, is it that so many have “turned away” from faith or is it that many have unconsciously “drifted away.’
We are all deeply influenced by everything that is around us in society. Surely there is much skepticism, doubt and uncertainty about faith which we hear and see constantly via the internet or in our daily conversations. This uncertainty may lead us to question beliefs we once held strong. Of course, some of us get turned off from the church and faith issues when we encounter scandals or see the hypocrisy of so-called faithful people.
The greatest influencer in leading us away from faith is probably the comfortable, easy life we live which simply anesthetizes us to the spiritual struggle we must engage in if we want to truly follow a spiritual life. Combine this temptation of ease and comfort with the constant “lie” that we hear every day which whispers in our ear “to seek after whatever immediate pleasures and entertainment there are.” We slowly believe the deception that our deepest happiness and meaning in life comes from pursuing such pleasures.
We can find many reasons to explain why people are turning away, or falling away from faith. Too often, though, this turn away isn’t necessarily conscious as it is unconscious. We simply don’t carve out time and put in much effort in our spiritual pursuits. We don’t “seek first the kingdom of God” as our Lord Jesus Christ advised.
CS Lewis noted, “most people simply drift away” because they don’t feed themselves spiritual food. They don’t give attention to their spiritual life. We ignore our spiritual appetite and basically starve it.
If we don’t give much attention to our spiritual life, if we don’t nourish it with daily food – through prayer, spiritual reading, conscious effort to live lives of love and mercy and compassion, through regularly being filled with God’s Presence and Grace through the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Holy Confession – if we don’t nourish our spiritual life it will slowly wither.
This weakening of our spiritual disciplines will lessen our desire for spiritual things which will lead to a declining and waning of our spiritual life. Before we realize it, we will have drifted away from our sincere love for Jesus Christ and our faith in His Church and the Good News that He proclaims.
If we occupy ourselves with the cares and entertainments of this world – filling up our time with sports, with celebrities, with political news, with so many temporal and not-so-important things – we may not find time to meditate on what is eternal and everlasting.
We carelessly give all our times to the here and now, what is in front of us and in what will entertain us right now, instead of what is eternal.
Throughout the Old Testament we hear the Prophets and the righteous people of God reminding the Israelites “ Remember!” Remember what God has done for you. Remember how God has acted in your lives. Remember the deception of this world and all of its enticing temptations and beware of how they will lead you away from the One True God. Remember!
Saint Paul warned the early Christians to “Stay vigilant. Be on guard. Now is the time of salvation! Now is the time to act!”
In Revelation, St. John receives a warning to tell the first century Church in Ephesus that “you have left your first love” and then warned the Church in Laodacia that they have become “lukewarm.”
This danger of drifting away unconsciously has always been a temptation for people of faith in every generation. That is why we have to learn from the past and be on guard, be vigilant, be attentive!
We also should understand how current events are tempting us even more. The past year and a half of a pandemic have led many of us to become lazy in our discipline of attending church on a weekly basis. We have gotten used to not prioritizing worship and making our participation in the Eucharist and uniting with Jesus Christ through receiving His most precious Body and Blood the summit of our week.
When we stop making the first day of the week dedicated to God, when we become lazy in praying to God every day, when we don’t find time to read spiritual material to nourish our souls and minds, when we prioritize everything else above our own spiritual well being then we will surely begin drifting away from our faith.
This may not be a consciously rejection of faith. We may still call ourselves Christians and believe that our faith is important to us. Yet, if we don’t carve out time for God and consciously strive to seek after Him through the Church and our Orthodox Faith, then we will unconsciously drift away.
Be careful! Be attentive! Be on guard!
Feed your spirits and nourish your hearts with the life-giving Bread of our Lord.
We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither our belief Christianity nor any other belief will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away? ~ C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)
HT: Pravmir. (Minor organizational edits and bolding of key phrases done by blog editors done to enhance readability.)