Remain or Depart

Free will has been given by God to every human being. We are free to choose to do good or to do evil. We are free to love God or that hate Him. We are free to remain close to Him, or to depart far from Him. The choice is ours to make. Not everyone chooses the same thing.

The Lord said to the Jews who had believed in him, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?” Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are Christ, the Son of the living God.”

John 6.56-69

Even after being face to face with God, many chose to walk away. The truth was just too much for them to bear. Despite witnessing many miracles, it was not enough to convince them to remain with Jesus. Some would eventually make their way back to Jesus, others would not.

We are faced with the same choice. We have heard about, maybe even witnessed, miracles and still we often choose to walk away from Christ. The fact that you are reading the blog post today suggests that you have wrestled with this same choice. “Should I go, or should I stay?”

If you have ever walked away, and have now returned, welcome back! You are no less valued as a Christian than those who never walk away. In today’s reading we heard Saint Peter say he would not walk away, but only a few weeks ago we heard him deny even knowing Christ.

If you are reading this blog today because you are considering returning to Church, welcome back! No matter how long you have been ‘gone’ we have been praying for your return. You are no less valued as a Christian. The Prodigal Son was welcomed back and fully restored.

If you have never walked away, this blog is just as much for you. Don’t let your defenses down. If the disciples who walked and talked directly with Jesus walked away, we must admit it might be easier to walk sometimes than to remain. Please stay. You are valued as a Christian.

Why do I say all this today? God understands how difficult the decision is to remain loyal to Him. He also knows that love can only be expressed through free will. He wants us to freely choose to remain with Him, not because we witness some miracle. Love must be free.

When we do remain, He promises us eternal life through Holy Communion. That can be our most difficult choice to make. It is easy to say we believe, but not so easy to be in Church every Sunday to receive Holy Communion so we can live.

The early Church gathered daily and received Holy Communion often. Too many of us have become ‘holiday Christians.’ After more than thirty years in ministry, I can tell you the more you walk, the easier it is to stay away. One week becomes one month and then years pass.

God is inviting us all to remain close to Him. The rest is up to us. Maybe today is the day we use our free will to remain instead of departing. Maybe today is the day we choose to return instead of staying away. We are free to choose, but we must choose freely.


  1. Theresa Morgan on May 27, 2024 at 8:56 am

    Powerful message! Thank you for addressing something all must face at one point; stay or leave. I pray that I always choose “stay”.

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