We are now several days into an unspeakable tragedy that is equally mysterious. Despite sophisticated tracking methods and multi-national radar, a Malaysia Airlines jet disappeared without warning or a trace on Saturday, March 8, 2014. The disappearance of Flight 370 is an enigma because “there are only a handful of scenarios that could explain how a usually reliable wide-body jet could seemingly vanish from a clear sky with no distress call and no obvious debris field” (Tracy Connor, NBC News online). At this point, all experts have are theories—mechanical malfunction, bomb or explosion, hijacking, pilot error or sabotage (ibid.). None of the theories is entirely satisfactory, however, and friends and family from 14 nations find no consolation or closure from this heretofore unsolved mystery.
Though it fails to make the news or be as dramatic, there are mysterious disappearances continuously occurring. It is usually possible to physically find the missing, but it can be just as hard to understand exactly why they came to be “missing” all the same. There are multiple causes, but that does little to bring consolation or satisfaction. I am referring to Christians who fall away from faithfulness.
Some fall away because of structural problems, a failure on the part of the congregation or some negative influence within it (cf. Mat. 18:6). Bad example, being a stumbling block, and thoughtless speech are ways we can contribute to a Christian falling. Some fall away because of something that “explodes” or “blows up” in their lives—financially, relationally, emotionally, or the like (Luke 8:13). Some fall away because their faith is hijacked, maybe by a false teacher or even a well-meaning family member who is bothered by their “changing religions” (cf. Gal. 1:6-9; 3:1). Some simply fall away because of “pilot error”—their own failure to successfully navigate the difficulties of living the Christian life (Luke 8:14; Heb. 6:4-6). No matter how it happens, it should be a source of sadness and concern to those of us still striving to walk in the light. More than that, we must become part of the search and rescue team. Galatians 6:1-2 and James 5:19-20 are just two of the passages that should convict and challenge us in this work. Not even the loss of a single person should be considered acceptable loss. Not with so much at stake and not given the high price Jesus paid for each and every soul!