Mat 19:21-22 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (22) When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
I have seen a phenomenon over and over and over again in these 40 years I have been a pastor. It is a phenomenon of remarkable suddenness. Literally one day a person is walking with you, seemingly walking that narrow way and following Christ, and overnight, or even more suddenly, they are done with you, with that path, and (though they won’t admit it), with Christ. It leaves you aghast. What in the world happened? Their whole demeanor changed, it seems. They want nothing to do with you.
Well, I think I have it sorted out, and here is my explanation.
When someone claims to follow Christ, many times they are in reality this kind of seed:
Mat 13:20-21 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, (21) yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.
The key there is “when tribulation or persecution arises.” That is, when the person who so convincingly appeared to have been saved, is in an environment which sooner or later requires him to pay a price for following Christ, when he is brought to a point of decision in other words, he decides. And unless he or she truly is born again so that they are rooted in Christ truly, they will inevitably (like the rich young ruler above) choose to go back to the world. And if you truly belong to Christ and are continuing on the narrow way, they are going to leave off from you as well.
The thing comes suddenly as if “out of the blue.” Unexpected. Many times they will name you as the cause. But that is only to shift the blame from themselves. And then they will go right on, insisting that they really are still following Christ, and plug into a “church” where being a Christian isn’t going to force them to that decision point.
That blame-shifting and the facade will be exposed and found out on the Day when Christ comes back.