Over the course of the last few months, there has been some “high profile” Christians who have stated that they are walking away from Christianity. Their list of reasons are different, but yet have similar reasons why. Josh Harris said, “By all measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christians.” The other one was stated as saying,” I want genuine truth. Not the ‘I just believe it’ kind of truth.” I have seen other “Christians” walk away from their faith and other deconstruct what they have been taught and what they have been “believing” for a long time. Honestly, my heart goes out to them. I was there not too long ago.
We had just moved across the country to California to help start a church. In the first three years, I was faced with some hard questions that challenged my faith in radical ways. I witnessed non-believers who showed more love and acceptance of others than many Christian I knew. I saw how they loved others without judgment, without pre-condition. People challenged me with hard questions about my beliefs that before I thought I knew the answers to. But now I was faced with some serious questions to my faith. I questioned a lot of my long-held beliefs of what I was taught in the church I grew up in and the Christian high school and university I attended.
The old phrase of “God said it, I believe, and that settles it!” Wasn’t working for me anymore. It doesn’t work for many people today. In fact, maybe it shouldn’t work for any of us. To many people, this phrase simply means, just believe it, accept it, but don’t think about it. We need to wrestle with the hard questions because there are many of us that deep down, have questions we are too afraid to ask. It is in the questions, the struggles, the doubts, the fears, the tension, the messiness that we will discover the Truth.
We can’t be afraid of hard questions, in fact, we need to embrace these questions. God is big enough to handle our questions, our doubts, our fears. God is patient and willing to give us the time and space to struggle in the tension and mystery of who He is and how He operates in the world. If God is patient with us then we need to be patient with each other.
It is important that we critically think about our faith. It is necessary for us to live in the tension and mystery that is God and the messiness of this world. We need to be ok with mystery and that there won’t be answers to all of our questions. We need to be generous with our orthodoxy, allowing people safe places to ask hard questions about faith, free of judgment and condemnation. Space for people to work out what they believe without giving up on them or slamming them over the head. In fact, we, as followers of Jesus, should ask these hard questions so others know it is ok to ask them and to struggle with them. Such as…
- If God is a loving God why would he send millions of people to hell for eternity for such a short time on earth?
- If God is a loving God why is there so much evil, death, destruction, disease illnesses in the world today?
- If God has a plan for my life, why is it such a mess?
- Do miracles still happen?
- What’s God’s view on homosexuality?
- Is everything in the Bible factual? If so, how do we know?
- How does God fit into our American Political climate?
- How can I believe in a God that has so many judgmental and hypocritical “Christians?”
- Who is Jesus?
As I journeyed through this time, asking questions, doubting, deconstructing, I always came back to one thing, well one person, Jesus. When I wasn’t sure what the “answer” was I looked at Jesus. Even though most everything else was up for grabs, Jesus wasn’t, who He was, who He is, what He taught, how He lived, kept me anchored. All the other non-essentials of my faith became “maybes” and not worth fighting for but Jesus became essential worth dying for. It’s not that He wasn’t before, but now I had a greater conviction because I had journeyed through these hard questions.
Jesus is the face of God. Jesus is who God is in the flesh. If we want to know what God is like we look at Jesus because He is God. What I see in Jesus is a God of ridiculous love and radical inclusiveness (For God so loved THE WORLD). I John 4:7-8 tells us that “God is love.” How do we know this to be true, we look at Jesus and how He loved, He never turned anyone away who was earnestly seeking Him, those who did turn away was by their own choice as they were unwilling to either see the Truth or unwilling to commit to the Truth. Jesus hurt with those who were hurting. He cried with those who cried. He hasn’t changed, He still hurts with those who are hurting and he still cries with those who are crying. He fights for us when we are unable to fight for our selves. He waits patiently for us to return and throws a party when we do.
So please, struggle, doubt, ask hard questions, because Jesus’ love for you never fails, He is patient with you, and He is big enough to handle all of them. Lastly, find a group of people who are willing to do the same.
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