My goal in this post is to help you evaluate the spiritual condition of your heart in preparation for worship this weekend. Based on my conversations with church members and leaders who’ve found themselves in backslidden conditions, below are some common denominators they’ve described for me. Use them to evaluate your own life before going to church this weekend:
- Your attention to spiritual disciplines is waning if not non-existent. Bible study no longer encourages you. Prayer has become a chore. Fasting is gone. Any approach you used to take to hear from God no longer exists.
- Your enthusiasm for attending church is losing steam. You still go, but with no joy or expectation. Others may not recognize it, but gathering with the people of God has become a real challenge for you.
- It’s been months—if not years—since you talked to somebody about your relationship with Jesus. Nothing’s really happening in your spiritual walk, anyway, so you’ve decided you have nothing to talk about with others.
- Old sin battles have returned. You thought they’d disappeared, but they’ve resurrected themselves to haunt you again. And, the battle for victory is as difficult as it’s always been.
- You’re hiding stuff. Maybe nobody but you and God knows the struggles you’re facing—and sometimes losing. To save yourself any embarrassment and shame, you keep it all to yourself. That’s a heart leaning in the wrong direction.
- Folks who know you best have begun to ask what’s up. Their words are honest, loving ones, but they feel stinging to you. The further you’re leaning in the wrong direction, the more likely you’ll blatantly lie or respond defensively.
- Singing God’s praises in church is harder to do. It always is that way when you’re not walking in step with Him. Even the best hypocrites sometimes struggle with singing God’s praise. It just feels odd.
- You tolerate sin more in your own life. Justifications and excuses you would never have accepted from others have now become yours, too. When your heart grows hardened, arrows of conviction sometimes bounce off.
- You make excuses to avoid any level of accountability. You don’t hang out as much with friends who never hesitated to ask about your spiritual walk. Small group feels invasive now, so you find ways out of that activity.
- You bow up defensively when reading this post. It’s not my goal to heap guilt on anyone, but you probably need to take an honest look at yourself if your first reaction to this post is defensiveness and rationalization.
I encourage you to use these descriptions to evaluate the direction of your own heart. Even if one of these describes your life, confess as you need to, and let your heart lean toward God this weekend. You might just welcome going to church.