nomadprodigalexile

By Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope* Jesus

David Kinnaman, in his book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving the Church and Rethinking Faith labeled the current generation as nomads, prodigals and exiles.  

Nomads are those who at one time were involved with a church or faith community, but have drifted away.  They may still identify themselves as Christians, but do not attend church on a regular basis.  They’re likely to consider going to church or Christian fellowship as optional. 

Prodigals are those who have given up on, or rejected, the faith in which they were raised.  Unlike the prodigal that Jesus described, they do not return and are likely to claim that Christian beliefs don’t make sense and they are therefore ex-Christians.

Exiles are those who struggle with the conflicts of the “church world” and the “real world.”  They may understand their calling to be a witness but desire to “find a way to follow Jesus that connects with the world.”

Whatever we call them, we need to recognize the alarming fact that there is a mass exodus of young people from the church.  And, we must ask the question “why?”    What makes them prone to wander from their upbringing in the church?  When does the danger of drifting begin?  In most cases, the answer lies in the failure to establish a firm foundation of faith.  The Bible offers a principle with hope:

 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6) 

Although this is not a guarantee, these words hold the key to building a firm foundation upon which to stand.  Jesus was clear in His teaching that unless your “house” is built “upon a rock,” it will fall.

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27, emphasis added) 

Jesus says the wise man whose house is built on a solid rock foundation is the one who hears His sayings and does them.   The necessity of this is important, not only for young people, but for Christians of all ages.  All believers are children of God and all need to be continually growing in the knowledge of who God is, what He has done for them and who they are in Christ, or they will wander (nomads), reject (prodigals) or compromise (exiles).  All believers need to build their houses on the Rock…and that rock is Jesus.  

 

Discipleship is the Answer…and Jesus Commanded It!

Matthew 28:19-20  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

This commission is different from the one in Mark 16:15 when Jesus told His disciples “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”  That commission was given in Jerusalem before Christ’s appearance in Galilee.  The Matthew 28 commission includes and emphasizes something that the commission given in Mark does not…“go ye therefore and teach…”  

Teaching is a part of discipling.  New believers need to be discipled.  That means that more mature Christians are to instruct them, so they will be “built-up” in the faith.  Notice in Matthew 28:19 that teaching comes before salvation.  We all understand that the gospel must be understood before a sinner can repent and trust in Christ. 

Romans 10:13-14, 17  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Notice also, the command Jesus gave in Matthew 28:20:  New converts should be taught to observe all things that He commanded.  And, remember, Jesus said that the wise man is one who “hears these sayings of Mine, and does them” (Matthew 7:24).  One cannot faithfully follow Jesus unless they know Him and understand His will and ways.  New converts need to be taught what it means to be a child of God.  Unless new converts are  discipled and taught to understand the gifts of salvation, and all that the newness of life in Christ holds for them, they will never enter into the joy of their salvation.  If they do not enter into their joy and find rest and satisfaction in Christ, they will seek satisfaction elsewhere and the world will gladly supply it (but will never sustain it).  Seeking satisfaction anywhere other than Christ is the beginning of drifting away.

If we want to slow the apostasy (walking away from faith) of all ages of Christians, we need to take discipleship seriously.  Mature Christians need to teach young Christians.  

Peter writes that “newborn babies desire the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2).  New converts desire the milk of the Word to nourish and grow them, but just as a baby matures and grows to desire solid food new converts also must mature.   The “meat” of increased knowledge and understanding of Jesus and His Word should be offered to them so they can grow.  If they do not move from milk to meat in the Word, they will find solid food elsewhere.

Commit to sharing truths of the Bible not only with the lost, but also with your brothers and sisters in Christ—both new converts and mature believers.  Christian fellowship centered on biblical studies  is the way to build a house with a solid foundation upon the Rock.  Then when the “storms of the world” come, the house will stand and the child will not  wander (nomads), reject (prodigals) or compromise (exiles).  

 

The Solid Rock” 

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
 

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay. 

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
 

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne. 

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

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