Losing the Faith

My thoughts these days are often with those who have left behind the faith of their youth or former days.  I read several blogs of people who would say that they used to be believers.  I would love to have deep conversations about what has happened in their hearts because the relationship with Jesus that is so real to me and so life-giving can be theirs as well.  But something has happened and they no longer seek peace and joy from Jesus.

So, it was a great blessing for me to read C. S. Lewis again.  His book, Surprised by Joy, is the story of his life and his faith.  Early in the book, he tells how he lost his first faith.  I have to cut and paste in order to keep this a reasonable length, but you can read it for yourself in chapter four of that book.  He was a young man when a teacher’s words and thoughts brought him great peace and took away his faith.  He does not blame the teacher or think her evil.  He was ripe for the change.

“The whole thing became a matter of speculation:  I was soon (in the famous words) “altering ‘I believe’ to ‘one does feel.’”  And oh, the relief of it!  From the tyrannous noon of revelation I passed into the cool evening of Higher Thought, where there was nothing to be obeyed, and nothing to be believed except what was either comforting or exciting.”

“One reason why the Enemy found this so easy was that, without knowing it, I was already desperately anxious to get rid of my religion; and that for a reason worth recording.  By a sheer mistake—and I still believe it to have been an honest mistake—in spiritual technique I had rendered my private practice of that religion a quite intolerable burden.   It came about in this way.  Like everyone else I had been told as a child that one must not only say one’s prayers but think about what one was saying.  .  .  [the false conscience] whispered, ‘Yes, but are you sure you were really thinking about what you said?’; then, more subtly, ‘Were you, for example, thinking about it as well as you did last night?’  The answer, for reasons I did not then understand, was nearly always No.  ‘Very well,’ said the voice, ‘hadn’t you, then, better try it over again?’ And one obeyed; but of course with no assurance that the second attempt would be any better.“

Lewis goes on to share some of the feelings he encountered as he tried to pray “correctly.” 

“My nightly task was to produce by sheer will power a phenomenon which will power could never produce, which was so ill-defined that I could never say with absolute confidence whether it had occurred, and which, even when it did occur, was of very mediocre spiritual value.”

“This was the burden from which I longed with soul and body to escape.  It had already brought me to such a pass that the nightly torment projected its gloom over the whole evening, and I dreaded bedtime as if I were a chronic sufferer from insomnia.  Had I pursued the same road much further I think I should have gone mad.”

Listen to the hearts of those who say they have left the Christian faith.  Aren’t most of them saying something like what Lewis has written?  The expectations of the faith, as presented by the religious traditions, were unreasonable.  No success was really possible.  No one could be good enough, work hard enough, pray long enough—there was no hope for the kind of acceptance and peace they longed for. 

But was that the Christian faith?

More tomorrow….

5 Comments

Filed under Freedom, grace, Legalism, Relationship

5 responses to “Losing the Faith

  1. Kay

    When I had depended upon “feelings” and my own understanding, I failed just as Lewis. I also heard of people
    “losing” their faith….how, if they had ever received Jesus
    Christ into their spirit….since He never leaves nor forsakes His believers…Christ alone maintains the relationship; we
    just fall in helpless love with Him over and over with only
    a mustard seed of faith. Only my take on this.

    • I agree so much, but this is not the Christian faith as it has been presented to so many in so many churches. I am not suggesting that people can lose their salvation, but that they were never taught the true Christian message in the beginning. What they adopted as the faith, was a poor and fleshly imitation.

  2. Rebekah Grace

    I believe in the depths of my heart that I was born again at the age of 9 years old. By age 13 or so, I walked away. For reasons that are just too discombobulated for this comment area. But unreasonable? A thousand times, YES. I did not lose my salvation when I walked away! If at any time between my walking away and re-committing my life to Jesus Christ, I had died, I would have met Jesus.

    I am not a theologian, nor am I eduated on all the doctrines either. I am just a girl who walked away from all the religious restrictions and the judgements that came from those who “followed” them onto those who “didn’t”. I lived a long and ugly life in the world only to return Home to the Father and be astounded (still am) by His expectantly waiting for my return, His welcoming embrace, His unfailing love, His absolute forgiveness through Christ, His unending patience, His daily new mercies and His amazing grace.

    It was that which was presented to me that I walked away from. If only I’d known then what I know now. But, I do not believe that was the plan for my life. I believe that because of my life, my experience, my walking away, I can sit here today and have the passion I do for Jesus. He is that much more real to me because I have experienced Him. Not by rules, or rituals or regulations but by the Grace of God through Jesus Christ.

    Some people would disagree with me. And I them. I can’t ignore His working in this prodigals life. And you know what I’ve done to deserve it?

    Not. One. Single. Thing.

  3. Mary

    Have you seen the film “Shadowlands” which is about the life of C.S. Lewis from the time he met Joy?….one of my absolute favorite films.

    I think many people lose their faith as they are looking to other Christians (human beings) to demonstrate God’s love, etc….but then as so often happens, these Christians (as they are only human!) fail in some way and many around are left cynical and even bitter…and as a result can lose their faith.
    It is so important, I believe, to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus……He is the anchor…and is the same today and tomorrow….a solid foundation on which to build a lasting faith even through all of life’s storms!

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