Jump Start # 2974
Proverbs 21:16 “A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of dead.”
Our passage today describes a journey that a person took. Somewhere along the way he took the wrong turn. He ended up in the assembly of the dead. Most would not choose that as a destination point. The end wasn’t as good as the beginning for this person.
Constructed within our passage is the explanation. It tells us why this person ended among the dead. He wandered from the way of understanding, that’s how it happens. Most don’t lose their faith by a big blow out. Usually it’s a slow, gradual leak until there is just nothing left within a person’s heart. We see the end result. We see the person who declares that he no longer believes. We see the person who drops off and drops out. But way upstream, his faith was leaking out. He was losing faith. Few noticed it then. Less interests in spiritual matters. Bored with worship. Hanging out with the wrong people. A Bible that is rarely touched. Prayers that are flat, lifeless and going no where. Oh, there were signs all along. And, this person saw it first. He didn’t leap from the truth, he wandered. He became more attracted to the world than to God. He noticed, but he didn’t do anything about it. He noticed but he allowed himself to continue on the path away from God. He noticed, but he didn’t care.
And, what our verse describes is the heartache of many parents and the very thing that keeps shepherds awake at night. How can we catch these things earlier? How can we instill an interest within a person so that he will reach out for help? How can we prevent one from walking away from the Lord?
If we had the answers to these questions, we could sell a lot of books. And, often we beat ourselves up thinking that we missed something or that we failed somewhere because some drifted away. We conclude that better sermons, better classes and better contact would have kept one from wandering away. It’s some how our fault and if we could fix that then no one will ever drift away again. But we know better. We know better because some left the best, Jesus Christ. John 6 tells us that some walked with the Lord no more. In the parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd is God. The little flock of on hundred sheep had the best shepherd they could ever have. Yet, one still wandered off.
Here are somethings to remember:
First, each person must take ownership of their own faith. And, when one doesn’t do that, then drifting, wandering and departing will happen. It always happens. There are some who don’t think much about their faith, even when sitting in a church building. There are some who only want to follow Jesus at a distance. Too close, is just too close for them. Keep Jesus in sight, but keep the distance. And, when one doesn’t take ownership of their faith, anything and everything is likely to happen.
Second, as a congregation, core lessons about discipleship need to be repeated and looked at closely. In order to take ownership, one must come to terms with responsibilities in his walk with the Lord. There is nothing like this journey with the Lord. When the weekend comes, you leave work at work. You don’t think about it unless you have to. When on vacation, you unplug. You chill out. You think about nothing important. Our walk with Jesus is not like that. Everyday and everywhere, our minds are on the Lord. Every word, every choice, every attitude reflects that journey with the Lord. When at work, we must think about what the Lord would have us to do. When on vacation, we think about what the Lord would have us to do. At home. In the store. On the ballfield. It never, ever turns off. Never. Nothing is like this. Unless one is taught this and shown this, they will do what typically comes to mind, which is leaving their faith in the church building. So at work, they act like everyone else. On vacation, like everyone else. It’s not until they are back in the church building that they think of Jesus. Such a person is one who will drift and wander.
Third, every departure ought to open our eyes to the world we live in. It’s always easier to wander than to be committed. It’s easier to drift than to stay faithful and true. It’s easier to go with the flow, that to swim upstream in a downstream world. Departures will happen. It saddens a congregation, but onward we must continue to march. Weariness, discouragement and difficulties are enough to cause one to let go of the rope that holds us to Jesus. And, without that rope we will drift and wander away. There are reasons why some wander away. Some never fully understood what was involved. Some were baptized but never became disciples. All of this ought to make us look within and ask ourselves some heartfelt questions.
If the wandering soul joins the assembly of the dead, what is the opposite? The soul that stays on path, the soul that remains committed, is found in the assembly of the living. They are found surrounding the throne of God in Heaven.
The distracted driver is a real danger on the road. The distracted believer is a real danger to his own soul and those he influences. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. That is not only good advice for the road, but it also is amazing advice for our spiritual journey.