By Lisa Harp Hinds
If you read “5 Reasons I Left the Church”, you know that, yes, I was one of “those” who had left the church for a combination of reasons. But I came back! Wondering why? Wondering if some of the people who have left your church might return? Wondering what you could do to help them?
NUMBER 5 REASON I CAME BACK TO THE CHURCH: SOMEONE WAS PRAYING FOR ME.
This is huge, people! I John 5:14-16 tells us, not only can we have confidence in approaching God to ask for anything within His will, but we should pray for our brothers and sisters in the Lord who have sinned, so that God will heal them and give them life! I found out there are people who loved me enough to pray on my behalf, and I am so thankful. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be where I am today spiritually.
NUMBER 4 REASON I CAME BACK TO THE CHURCH: GOD FORGAVE MY WANDERING AND CALLED ME BACK.
You’re probably familiar with the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15; I remembered this story when my heart began to soften again. I also realized the truth in Micah 7:18: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” Praise God for His mercy and love!
NUMBER 3 REASON I CAME BACK TO THE CHURCH: I REPENTED OF TURNING MY BACK ON GOD.
The natural follow-on to reason number 4 is my reaction to God’s forgiveness – I repented! Our hearts must be made ready to repent by the prayer of others and the forgiveness of God. I truly believe this: We should be constant in our prayers toward one another. This life is difficult enough with the love and help of our Christian brothers and sisters, but without each other, what kind of life do we have? Not a pretty life, let me tell you, and I speak from experience. Someone is out there right now – in this heartless world – needing your prayers so that he or she can turn back to God! James 5:13-16 tells us to pray for each other, and it’s great when we can meet together in worship and prayer, but I urge you to pray also for those who are missing.
NUMBER 2 REASON I CAME BACK TO THE CHURCH: I GREW WISER, LEARNING THAT OTHERS MAKE MISTAKES, TOO.
Hmmm… other people make mistakes? What? Of course! Everyone makes mistakes! You may not be witness to it, and they may not admit to it, but we are all guilty of sin (thus the need for the Savior), and since we remain in human bodies and in a fallen world, we have the capacity to make mistakes. And yet, God is forgiving. If the Holy One can forgive people, then we must forgive, also (see Mark 11:25 and Matthew 6:14).
NUMBER 1 REASON I CAME BACK TO THE CHURCH: I DECIDED TO FORGIVE OTHERS AND MYSELF.
It all boils down to this: You’re human and you’ve made mistakes; others are human and they’ve made mistakes. God forgives; we should forgive ourselves and others. Without forgiveness, is there really any love? I John 3:16-18 discusses the kind of love we should have for our brothers and sisters in Christ, so I suggest, if we’re willing to lay down our lives for each other and love each other with our actions, then surely praying for one another is a cornerstone of loving each other. And don’t forget the parable of the two debtors in Luke 7:41-48 – the one who has been forgiven the biggest debt loves God the most. Let’s not look down on those who have sinned and left the Christian life behind; instead, let’s pray constantly for them, remembering that when they return to Christ, they will love Him even more than they did before.