Rev 21:6-8 (NIV) But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
I find it interesting that the first ones mentioned as being placed in the fiery lake of hell are the cowards. Before God gets to sins that we would classify as really bad, easy to pick out and easy to judge, he identifies cowards as a group deserving of hell.
And right behind the cowards are the quitters, the faithless, the unbelieving.
Unbelieving, what is that? It is the person who wants a little of Jesus but not all of Jesus. It is the person who thinks they can “play God” against Himself by taking grace without any intention of ever really living by God’s standards or calling. The unbeliever never really fully leans into God. There is no trust. There is no risk. There is little obedience, only an obedience of convenience. There is no faith.
Unbelievers are also called the faithless. You might say the faithless are those who never had any real desire to go all the way. They never bought in fully. They were OK with Jesus when it was beneficial and easy but they wanted out when it got hard and sacrificial. The faithless and the unbelieving always have an exit door just in case they need it. For them it was never all about Jesus, it was always about themselves.
If believing is being fully persuaded to the point of risking to base but your whole life on something; and if believing is being convinced to the deepest and it innermost core of your life, so much so that you base your convictions and actions on what you believe; then the unbeliever and the faithless never were fully convinced or convicted about the sufficiency and the authority of Jesus Christ.
Unbelievers turn into quitters. The faithless turn into quitters. They may start out all worked up in some emotional way and with the best of intentions but since there is no deep conviction to keep them going when it gets rough, they quit.
I remember watching my son play baseball for his high school and seeing a kid quit right in the middle of the game. He never walked off the field or left the team but there is no mistaking the quitter. About the fourth inning of the game someone had hit the ball over his head and instead of running hard after it he just jogged and took his merry time. He had quit on the team.
I’ve watched the same people over and over again serve God the same way. They are on the team but they have lost interest, lost passion, lost desire, lost love and are wrapped up in their own little world. Quitter! Why not just resign your position and move on?
People quit churches all the time. There is an unwritten rule in the church that we are supposed to run after the quitters and beg them to come back or else we have failed to do our spiritual duty. Even the quitters, after they quit, have an expectation that someone’s supposed to call them and express dismay and compassion over their quitter attitude.
I don’t call quitters anymore. One reason I don’t call them is because I know I am going to hear all about how we, I, they or someone has failed them and that their failure has so badly damaged them that they had no other option but to quit. They couldn’t work it out, they couldn’t pick up the phone and call, they couldn’t seek reconciliation and so the only way they could tell anyone about their misery was to quit. The act of quitting becomes their protest and their response to pain. I don’t call the quitter because if that issue was important enough to them and they had any guts they would’ve called me first. I don’t call the quitter because I don’t want to hear them run down everyone in the church and the church itself. I don’t call the quitter because I’m forced to defend the people I love and the church I love to a person was decided to not love us anymore. Quitters have to blame someone and they rarely blame themselves.
I don’t call quitters because I’ve never talked anyone into believing what they don’t want to believe. I might be able to pump them up sufficiently to try again; but if you don’t believe, you don’t believe and it’s only a matter of time before they quit again.
I don’t call quitters because I don’t respect quitting. No one celebrates a quitter. There are no bronze statues in our park that depict a heroic quitter curled up in a fetal position, sucking his thumb and calling out for his mommy. I am mad at quitters.
People quit, it’s just the fact of life. Some people need to quit and to move on to something new. People quit churches all the time in our town and move on to new churches and then move on again after that. They come in complaining about their last church and they will leave complaining about our church. God has a special message for those who quit, who are faithless and who are unbelieving; watch out on judgment day!