3 Truths to Remember When Christians Become Disillusioned
I get disillusioned all of the time. I get disillusioned with my country, with my friends, with my church, with my family, and the list goes on. Becoming disillusioned is part of the human condition because people disappoint.
But what about getting disillusioned with God? What do we do with disillusionment when the source of that level of disappointment is directed at the very foundation of our hopes and our dreams?
With the recent media attention of well-known Christians who have publicly announced not only their disillusionment, but their “leaving the faith,” I began to think about what that means for me. As a wife, a mother, a teacher, a minister, and a writer, what should I do with these kinds of announcements, especially when they are coming from former leaders within the Christian community?
It’s somewhat disheartening when we hear of fellow Christians losing their faith in God, no matter if they are prominent in their fields or if they are simply people that we know. However, when those of us who have been influenced by these Christian leaders hear of their defection from the very faith they helped us build, their disillusionment runs the risk of becoming our own. I believe it’s equally vital that we know ahead of time what to do when these things happen, because they will happen.
When the disillusionment of others threatens our own faith, we can keep our boats from rocking in the waves that capsized theirs by remembering three things:
1. Consider the Source
I remember a time when I was terribly upset at the actions of another believer. I was lost in anger and anxiety at how her actions were adversely affecting me. A good friend reminded me that my anger was being lost on the wrong person. The devil, while prowling around like a lion, really only has the power we give him. He knows if he can distract us with the actions of others or the situations around us, then we won’t see that the issue is him. He is the great deceiver. His only goal is to steal, kill, and destroy. The power he has to do these things is greatly accomplished in stealth. He hides behind details that we mistakenly think are worthy of our attention. These details simply serve to camouflage the real problem: him.
Consequently, Satan is the one we should call out in these kinds of situations. Once the light of the truth is shone on him, he scampers away like the roach that he is. If we Christians spent less time considering, maligning, and absorbing the sinful actions of others and more time calling out the problem, then I believe much of the devil’s power would evaporate. In the meantime, all of the negative attention we give to our brothers and sisters who are struggling can be turned to prayer for them, as opposed to talking about them.
2. Compromise Nothing
Almost as much as human nature tends toward disillusionment and disappointment, it also tends toward compromise. If something doesn’t work, we move it around until it does or find the path of least resistance. We make the necessary adjustments so that the problem no longer exists. After all, we are people of invention and problem-solving. With enough thought and effort, we will find solutions.
Whereas these are commendable attributes in just about every scenario, they entirely break down when it comes to God and his Word. There is no compromise here. However, when given the issue of disillusionment with God, His statutes, or His nature, it seems that many within the Christian community unfortunately move toward compromise rather than conviction.
Much of the disillusionment we hear from those who defect from the faith centers on the character of God or His commandments and requirements as they are laid out in the Old Testament. These things, when read on the surface, seem to contradict the “God of love” touted within Christian circles. When faced with the reality of life, these disillusioned believers begin to drift toward cultural beliefs and norms which seemingly demonstrate the kind of love they wanted to see from God. They long for a love they either didn’t see in His children or couldn’t find in His Word.
As a result, what has hence permeated a lot of newer teachings from some of our mainstream Christian leaders has been a compromise of the Bible. One recent release from a very well-known Christian teacher is a book on how the Old Testament is no longer viable as a representation of God, and that it, in fact, never was. His viewpoint has become startlingly more common among Christian leaders and teachers in an effort to make Christianity more palatable and our view of God more “loving.” The argument is that the Old Testament is confusing to the average person and therefore, should be left out of any evangelistic or even disciplining efforts.
The danger is in compromising truth in favor of taking the path of least resistance. To delete any of God’s Word in favor of “easy understanding” is to diminish the greatness and glory of our Father. If Jesus loved all of the Word, which, by the way, was the Old Testament, as we know it today, then how can we love it any differently? Perhaps the answer is not in compromising for the sake of peace, but in teaching for the sake of clarity. God is worth knowing, and that means all of Him.
3. Recognize the Battle
As the clock winds down toward the return of our Savior, these are the very things Jesus told us would happen. When the disciples asked Jesus how they would know the end of time was drawing near, Jesus told them, “Sin will run rampant everywhere. And the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12, NLT).
Paul told Timothy in his second letter, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty” (2 Timothy 3:1, ESV). Paul went on to say, “You’re going to find out that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but they will fill up with spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages” (2 Timothy 4:3-4, The Message).
Our battle is not with the things we should anticipate, like the falling away of some from the faith. Our battle is to win as many souls to Christ while there’s still time, while simultaneously praying for those who have been deceived by the schemes of the devil. Our battle is not against life or rumors or people or ideologies. Our battle is for souls. Our battle is for those who have wandered from truth. Our battle is for dispelling myths and compromise by standing firm in the entire truth of God.
Consider the Source. Compromise Nothing. Recognize the Battle.
In other words, don’t be derailed by details. People will fall away. Sin will continue. Life will be hard. But our minds must remain set on eternity and our missions now. As Paul said, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season. Be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:2, 5, ESV).
Dr. Deb Waterbury is the founder of Love Everlasting Ministries, a ministry dedicated to educating and empowering women all over the world. She founded the Reap What You Sew trade school (RWYS.org) for impoverished women in Malawi, Africa. She has authored nine books, including her most recent, The Lies that Bind: And the Truth that Sets You Free. Dr. Deb hosts two weekly shows, “Real Life with Deb Waterbury” and “Get Real with Deb Waterbury.” She currently resides in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband, Jeff, a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force National Guard.
For more information, visit http://www.DebWaterbury.com.