Let’s set the stage. You’re reading the Bible, listening to a podcast or tuning into a sermon and you come across the phrase “to whom shall we go.” What does that mean? And really, to the author’s point, to whom would you go?
The quote is from John 6:68 (ESV) and reads, “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’” The verses prior to Simon Peter’s response offer context. At this point, many of Jesus’ disciples turned away from Him, no longer following after Him. Jesus then looked at His 12 disciples and asked them point-blank, “Do you want to go away as well?” (John 6:67 ESV). That’s when Simon Peter looked at Jesus and responded, “To whom shall we go?”
It may seem like it was a question for Jesus to answer, but it wasn’t. Simon Peter was pointing out that there was no one else they wanted to follow. There was no one else to whom they should (or would) go to. From a practical life standpoint, this doesn’t seem to have a lot of bearing, right?
To whom shall we go?
Have you ever thought about it? To whom shall you go? Essentially, you have two options: You can go with Jesus or you can choose to completely opt out of this Jesus stuff. It’s not a “we” decision; it’s a choice only you can make for yourself.
Many of Jesus’ followers turned away from Him. They chose a different route for their life. They no longer believed that Jesus was the Messiah. They no longer believed that Jesus was who He said He was. That scenario seems pretty applicable to today. People are fleeing the church and walking away from Jesus at an unprecedented rate. Christianity is rapidly declining in America, according to a study by Pew Research. “In Pew Research Center telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade,” the study revealed.
Why do Christians turn away from Jesus?
Christianity, belief in Jesus, is declining at an astonishing pace. And the question is, why are people leaving the church? Why are they choosing to turn their backs on Jesus? The answer: It has very little to do with Jesus. A study completed by Barna revealed why some young Christians are saying goodbye to the church, bidding farewell to Jesus and embracing a different lifestyle. Here are some of those reasons:
- They’ve been hurt by the church. When asked, many former churchgoers can point to a specific incident within the church that caused them deep pain. The hurt was so great that they just decided it wasn’t worth it to seek reconciliation.
- Their experience with the church is shallow. On the other hand, some former churchgoers, especially among the 20-something crowd, have just had a lackluster experience. Some cite that church is uneventful and boring, while others say that church doesn’t help them reach their professional goals.
- Tension between Christianity and science. Many who have decided to leave the church did so because they felt at odds with science. Some said that the church was too combative and authoritative when it came to defending science, while others thought that the Bible and science didn’t add up.
- Teens “kissed dating goodbye.” For the kids who grew up in the late ’90s or early ’00s, purity culture really messed with them. They probably followed Joshua Harris’ advice and “kissed dating goodbye.” Overall, many feel that topics related to sexual intimacy were watered down too much.
- The church is too exclusive. While church should be the place that feels the most inclusive to people, unfortunately for some, it feels incredibly exclusive. Many feel that they aren’t welcome or are judged while attending church.
Every single one of those reasons why someone may turn away from the church is heartbreaking. If you feel that way in a church, find a different one. Not all churches are like that. And, furthermore, that’s not how churches are supposed to be. You are loved and you are welcomed, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
The church — Jesus — is here for you. Forever and always. There is literally nothing you can do or say that would make Jesus love you any less. God wants you to pick Him, to choose Him.
Now it’s your turn to answer the question that remains: To whom shall you go?