Pastor Mark’s Devotions, June 4

“A Crisis of Faith”

“If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13

Last week, Jon Steingard, lead singer for the Christian band, Hawk Nelson, confessed on an Instagram post, that he no longer believed in God. Jon said, “After growing up in a Christian home, being a pastor’s kid, playing and singing in a Christian band, and having the word, ‘Christian’ in front of most of the things in my life – I am now finding that I no longer believe in God.” He cites questions about God, the Bible, and his upbringing and said that he can no longer lead songs like, “Drops in the Ocean” in good conscience.

While his confession is troubling, it is important to hear his bandmates response. In their own statement, they declare, “We are called to love one another unconditionally, as God loves us.” And they also said, “Our mission is to inspire and encourage all people with the truth that God is for them and not against them – now this is for one of our own.” What a wonderful expression of love and brotherhood for a friend who is struggling, searching, still seeking to know truth.

As Christians, looking in from the outside, we can easily cast judgments, be angry or share disappoint in Jon’s words. But if we pause and listen closely, there can be a lot we can learn. The reality is that many believers are one crisis away from seemingly throwing in the spiritual towel. If one more unexplainable tragedy occurs, or just one more problem shows up to tip the scale, many feel ready to be done with their belief in God.

So, what is to be done in the midst of a crisis of faith? I would suggest it is very similar to what we are being called to do in the midst of this pandemic and in the face of these peaceful protests. We are called to come along side those who are struggling. We are to remind them that they are not alone. We are to listen and remain open to understand their story. And we are to understand that deeper understanding can emerge in the midst of a crisis.  

Listening more closely to Jon’s words, he makes some significant statements. He expresses the desire to finally be open, honest, vulnerable and transparent. These are important qualities to work through a crisis. Up until now, he has kept his doubts, fears, and questions, hidden in his heart. Nothing good comes from hiding. Adam and Eve hid from God in the Garden and nothing good came from it. Jon’s honest confession opens the door to address his crisis of faith and the possibility of discovering a deeper experience with God.

Jon also states, “I want to be transparent with you all – and also open to having my heart changed in the future. He goes on to say, “I am not looking for a debate at all – just a chance to share my story in the hopes some good can come from it. I love you all.”

Wow, Jon makes some amazing comments. Along with transparency, he says that he wants his heart to be open to change. He is saying that he really wants to believe that there is a God, but he just can’t see it right now. He also says that he isn’t looking for someone to fix him or have a question and answer quiz session. His simple hope is that by being honest, something good can happen.

Jon is confessing a lot of different things in his post. One thing is for certain, he is wrestling with spiritual things. Wrestling is a good thing. Wrestling in the wilderness is the place where Jacob, in the Old Testament met God. In that wrestling, Jacob had an experience with God. His name and heart were changed and he became a different person.   

Jon then makes the most revealing statement. He says, “I’m actually open to the idea that God is there.” But he says, “I suspect if he is there, he is very different than what I was taught.”

With those words, Jon just gave a window into the hearts of many people. Most people actually believe that there is a God. But what they have been taught from the Bible has little relevance for their life.  

Hopefully, his bandmates and/or his close Christian friends will allow him to share his story. Hopefully, they will ask questions about the kind of Christianity he was taught. He has already confessed that he is open to God but he needs someone to help guide him in knowing and/or rediscovering the truth about the faith. Someone needs to clarify that everything about Christianity centers itself in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Over the years, I have heard many stories about people growing up in Christian homes that have missed on the centerpiece of our faith – namely, Jesus Christ. Sure, we teach about Jesus being born in Bethlehem, doing some miracles and that he died on a cross. But many people have not been led into a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Christianity can easily become a list of do’s and don’ts and evaluating faith based upon church attendance and activities. If this happens, Christianity simply becomes another legalistic religion, centered upon human good works, that will eventually kill the spirit. It could be that this is where Jon finds himself.  

Most people who have left the church and/or Christianity is because they were taught information about God but not led into a relationship with God. We can gain much wisdom about God, but still be vulnerable to a crisis because we still might not know him. Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” John 10:14. This “knowing” of which Jesus speaks, is about a personal experience with the living God.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul prays that God would give, both wisdom and revelation to the believers in Ephesus. He says, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Ephesians 1:17)

Wisdom is not enough. Revelation leaves a mark on the heart in which the Holy Spirit opens up an encounter with the living God. Fully knowing God through wisdom and revelation provides the sturdy foundation from which a life of faith is built. But even in that, be aware that crisis’ of faith can still occur and that is why we need brothers and sisters in the faith to walk with us, and talk with us, and pray for us in our times of need.  

Consider King Solomon. He was the wisest of all the kings of Israel. God gave Solomon all the wisdom the world had to offer. Solomon mesmerized crowds and even the Queen of Sheba with his insights. He spelled out some of his comprehensive wisdom in the book of Proverbs. God chose him to build His Temple in Jerusalem. God gave him peace among the nations. Yet Solomon had a crisis of faith. Solomon lost perspective. In Ecclesiastes Solomon wrote, “God has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men.” (3:1) Yet somewhere along the line, his wisdom  about God did not sustain him. He began the book of Ecclesiastes with the confession, “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher, “Utter meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” He came to this conclusion that all was vanity after spending his life in pursuit of knowledge, pleasure, splendor and work. Yet in all of it, he lost his pursuit of God and all his efforts left him empty.

Solomon had been given plenty of wisdom. What he needed was revelation. What he needed was relationship. Solomon needed close companions to help guide him back to faith in Yahweh, the living God.

The good news is that Jon Steingard has a band of brothers who are standing with him, praying for him and who are wanting to point him to the truth of Jesus.

As people come to us in the midst of a crisis, may we be a church that is able to guide people to the centerpiece of our faith – that vital relationship with Jesus Christ.

If one of our family members has a crisis of faith, let us not fear. Rather, let us see it as a red flag of opportunity. Doubts that were once hidden are now being exposed. That which is troubling is now able to be healed. That which is questioned has the opportunity to be answered. And that which is unknown – can become an invitation to know the living God on a deeply personal, life transforming level.

May God prepare each of us, in our own crises of faith, to take us deeper with Him.

God Bless You!

Pastor Mark


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