Come Through Victorious

I don’t listen to them every week, but I sometimes like to listen to a few of the countdown charts for contemporary Christian music.  Now I know a lot of people don’t prefer that style, but go with me on this one.  The reason I do that isn’t so much that I like the songs, but I appreciate how it can show me what is really on the hearts of Christians around the nation.

Over the past couple of weeks, there has been some pretty sobering things I saw in this, as well as in social media. First off, the music. I listened to multiple charts, and consistently, some of those ranking in the top six were songs about the difficulties, pain, and scars we have as Christians. Literally. Songs like “Scars” by I Am They, “Raise A Hallelujah” by Bethel Music, and “Scars (Come With Living)” by TobyMac, just to name a few. People are hurting, have struggles, and there is a longing to be reassured that, as the T-Mac song says, “You’re not alone.”

Now I already knew that people struggle with things, but it was a clear reminder to me as I have been listening to those programs.  And then, I learned of some news that really drove this all home for me.

Over the past month and a half, two very prominent Christian leaders have recanted their faith in Jesus and completely turned the other way.  I am not trying to blast them, I am just reporting the news.

The first that I heard of was Marty Sampson. Now if you are not familiar with him, he was a long-term writer for Hillsong.  And when I say Hillsong, I mean all of it: Hillsong United, Hillsong Worship, Hillsong Young and Free, the list goes on. 

I read his post (which was quoted in an article), and I was dumbfounded.  Basically, he was just done with Christianity, citing one of his main reasons being that no one talks about the real answers to life’s questions and problems. 

Like I said, I was stunned, but when I heard that Josh Harris denounced the faith, words escaped me.  Josh Harris was a pastor at a quite large church for nearly a decade and a half, an outspoken conservative Christian, and even wrote “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.”  He said he had just undergone a radical shift in his belief system, and he regrets all of what he taught, preached, and wrote. 

What is interesting about both of these stories (I have the articles linked below) is that both Marty Sampson and Josh Harris talk about how happy and alive they feel now that they are coming out about all this.  It was as if they were afraid for so long to admit that they were even struggling, and then when they finally just came out with their turning away, they found the freedom they had yearned after for so long.  I am not condoning in anyway what they did or said, just analyzing what happened.

So how does this tie together?  To put it bluntly, Christians feel threaten to admit they doubt.  We have to admit it: sometimes we really wrestle with the concept of evil and suffering, whether we can believe the Bible, or even if God is with us.  I have struggled with those things at times, especially in my early teenage years, and I know that a lot of other people do as well.

The problem is that we are often fed this idea that if we start asking questions about what we are taught in church, we are backsliding.  That is a completely wrong attitude to have, and it might have—in part—led to what these two men have done.  They had questions, but the only people they felt free to share those with were individuals who had already rejected God.  As a result, the “answers” they found were from that anti-God perspective.

The problem is not with our faith.  It is not that our faith is so unstable that if you breathe on it the wrong way, it will collapse.  It is not wrong to want to know that you know that you know the Bible and what it teaches is true.  When you are pumped full of the lie of evolution, it is not wrong to want to know how to scientifically refute it from a Biblical perspective.  It is not wrong to wrestle with the concept of miracles.  That is actually admirable, since it shows that you are honestly trying to understand Christianity better.

The problem comes in when we become cynical, but as long as we have the goal of better understanding our faith, it is not wrong to question how God works now and how He has worked in the past.  It is not wrong to open up and share that we struggle, whether with matters of the faith or just with life.  There is actually a great benefit in this.  Solomon said that the one “who separates himself seeks his own desire, he quarrels against all sound wisdom” (Proverbs 18:1).  When we retreat within ourselves, we are often setting ourselves up for failure.  We need God, absolutely, but He has given us each other to help us through struggles in this life.

Here’s another passage.  In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Paul writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  We see both elements here, that God comforts us, but that He does so in order that we can turn right around and help comfort others. 

So no, it’s not wrong to admit we are struggling.  It could be with a sin, a difficult time in life, or even a part of our faith.  That is not sin to admit that.  When we confess that to the Lord, when we align ourselves up with His ordained patterns in Scripture, and when we seek for the accountability and friendship of Godly companions, God will show us the path to victory.  The Word of God is an amazing book, and it shows us the answers to our problems, not songs (as some popular ones today claim).  We must hold it fast, and we must be willing to first admit to others when we are struggling, and then we must authentically live in such a way so that others will be comfortable sharing their struggles with us.  They know we won’t cast them off as backsliding just for asking questions.  They need to know that we will hear them out, and that we will seek to help them find the right answers.  And we do that, not because they are a “ministry,” but because they are our brothers and sisters in the faith.

I know this has been a little different than my usual blog posts, but the Church in the West has closed its eyes to the real problems, struggles, and difficulties of life for far too long.  The time has come for us to take the bull by the horns, get our hands dirty, and deal with these issues instead of pretending that “good Christians” don’t struggle with them.  The answers are there, and if we seek to follow Jesus and His Word, we will find them as the Spirit leads us.  But that first step is admitting that we struggle, and once we have done that, we will be ready to do the serious study of the questions and wrestlings with the sin, just as God has called us to and empowered us to come through victorious in Christ.

Marty Sampson article:

Josh Harris article:

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