Talking to my only Christian work colleague a little while ago, I was being quizzed about my 'Christian Walk'—specifically, if I was backsliding in some manner.
"So you don't currently go to church?" my colleague asked.
"Not currently, no," I replied. "It is currently too difficult for a number of reasons." So with a firm stance he stated, "So you're backslidden."
The statement had me thinking. 'Backslidden'. Was I backslidden?
My colleague has come across as legalistic in the past, but on the same token, I will always take on board constructive criticism for the purpose of introspection.
It had been my un-researched opinion the term 'to backslide' would apply to someone who has returned to worldly ways that oppose Jesus' teachings in some manner—for example, sexual immorality, drunkenness, worshipping false gods through materialism, for the sole purpose of self-gratification and behaviour which is contradictory to His word.
I looked up the definition of the word on an Internet search engine for the definition:
Backslide: to relapse into bad ways or error.
Well I thought, not going to church could be considered relapsing into bad ways, but I also felt that God was not so shallow as to not consider my situation and write me off. I know it is not ideal, but unfortunately, due to our current circumstances, it is the reality—and I have no intention of remaining this way for any longer than we have to.
Time for some research
So I went to the Bible and a study guide to do a little more research.
The term 'backsliding' does not appear in the New Testament and is used in the Old Testament primarily referring to Israel.
The Jews, though they were God's chosen people, continually turned their backs on Him and rebelled against His Word. This is why they were forced to make sacrifices for their sin over and over in order to restore their relationship with the God they had offended.
But for us Christians, we have availed ourselves to the complete sacrifice for our sins which Jesus paid for. God himself has obtained our salvation for us (2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 21) and because we are saved by Him, a true Christian cannot fall away so as not to return.
Christians do sin as described in 1 John chapter 1, verse 8, but the Christian life is not identified by a life of sin.
Believers are a new creation
The Christian walk should be a changed life. Christians are forgiven no matter how many times we sin, but at the same time we should definitely be living a progressively more holy life as we grow closer to Christ.
I concluded after prayer and Bible study on this—yes, a true Christian who falls back into sin is still saved, but at the same time, a person who chooses a life controlled by sin is unlikely to truly be a Christian.
So did this apply to my life?
I do not consider temporarily not attending church to be backslidden.
While there is clear advantage in doing so for the reasons to worship corporately, the fellowship and encouragement of other Christians and to be taught God's word, these things can be done outside the confines of a building.
If you feel guilty for missing a service or meeting(s), I feel this is purely guilt imposed on you by the pressure of others on you to attend. This borders on legalism and you are in danger of coming to the belief that your salvation is conditional.
Amen for our freedom in Christ!
Michael Dahlenburg is an electronics engineer currently working in the ATM industry. He is non-denominational and has previously been involved in church plants and assisting those in ministry. His interests include; enjoying family, home DIY, gardening, most things tech-related and driving his wife crazy with a constant stream of inventions! You can view his blog site here: www.mickdahl.weebly.com
He lives with his wife Michelle and three children in God's own land of Southern Adelaide, Australia.
Michael Dahlenburg's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/michael-dahlenburg.html