“My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:19-20

 If you’re a Christian long enough, chances are you’ll have to deal with, what, in my humble opinion, can be one of the most hurtful things for a Christian to go through—seeing a friend apostatize. I think many of us can name at least someone who once seemed dedicated to walking with the Lord but eventually left the faith for whatever reason.

I can relate. I’ve been a Christian for nine years and have seen many friends (some closer than others) apostatize. Depending on how close you were with that person, it can affect you deeply and even cause you to question your own faith. [pullquote]Watching a former Christian brother or sister repudiate the faith can leave us feeling hurt, betrayed, insecure, sad, etc.[/pullquote]

There was a period of time when I was suspicious of my community of believers. Knowing that there may be false converts among the brethren, I became slightly paranoid as to whom I would befriend. If the brother didn’t seem to be “on fire” for Jesus, I didn’t really want to get to know him. The last thing I wanted to have happen was for me to develop a friendship with a brother, even to the point of deep accountability, only to have this brother leave the faith some time after having opened up to him about the intricacies of my life.

This dysfunctional view of community was no doubt a result of having seen one of my dearest brothers­—the very person who led me to Christ—fall away into believing a different gospel. Thankfully, God has done a work in my heart such that I no longer am paranoid in this way. However, the pain still remains when I think about my friends who left the faith.

The Bible speaks about apostasy in many places, and comes at the topic from many angles. Recently, I revisited James 5:19-20, and this passage gave me great encouragement. James writes, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

[pullquote position=”right”]I rejoice in the fact that, although it may be possible for us to wander from the truth, it is also quite possible for us to be brought back![/pullquote] How many of us are still praying for that brother we saw fall away from the faith? Are we praying? Or did we already decide in our hearts that he’s a lost cause and that he must have never been saved in the first place? This passage should encourage us to pray for our fallen brothers and sisters in the faith. We ought never give up on them!