I don't come from a religious family, so a lot of the "churchy" talk I hear people use in the church I'm attending goes over my head. For example, what do they mean when they talk about someone "backsliding"? I gather this isn't a good thing, but I'm too embarrassed to ask. — D.V.
Don't be embarrassed about asking people to explain things you don't understand. If they love Jesus, they'll want to help you -- and it also may encourage them to communicate their faith more clearly! Jesus spoke simply and directly, and the Bible says "the common people heard him gladly" (Mark 12:37, KJV).
The word "backsliding" simply means to turn from the way we once lived by drifting away from God and allowing sin to rule us. When we come by faith to Christ and commit our lives to Him, He forgives us all our sins and comes to live within us by His Holy Spirit. He adopts us as His children -- and nothing can ever change that. As the Bible says, nothing "will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39).
But our old sinful nature still lives within us, and Satan will do all he can to pull us away from God. Sometimes we give in, and when we allow it to continue we have backslidden. Jeremiah said of the people of his day, "Our sins testify against us.... Our backsliding is great" (Jeremiah 14:7). Yet God will forgive us if we repent and turn back to Him.
Make sure of your commitment to Jesus Christ. Then ask Him to help you resist temptation and stay close to Him. God delights in you -- and the best way to avoid backsliding is to delight in Him every day.