Recently there has been a couple of high profile Christians who have announced that they are losing their faith. One I am particularly saddened about is Marty Sampson, who I lived next door to for a while some twenty years ago.
After reading the reasons for his announcement, it strikes me that it was not because he was let down by God, but rather he was let down by the church.
In his announcement, Marty had a number of quite deep questions for which he was getting no answers. Questions like: many pastors fail but no one is talking about it. Not many miracles happen today and no one is talking about it. There are so many contradictions in the Bible but no one talks about it. And billions of people will be sentenced to hell, but no one is talking about it.
Many people in the broad church have written and spoken much about Marty’s situation, as well as the other high profile Christians leaving the faith. People have expressed everything from concern and comfort to anger and incredulity over these things.
But what stands out to me in Marty’s announcement are the questions.
Asking questions over these and any other matters is a good thing. Questions are necessary and the Lord tells us to:
"Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew chapter 7, verses 7-8)
If these things are not being discussed and talked about in the church where Marty attended, then he has been let down by the church.
All of these issues are certainly discussed, often at length in different places by different commentators. Even if they were not, we are told by the Lord in the verse quoted above to go and ask the Lord for the answers.
When we cannot find answers ourselves, we can always seek the Lord and have the answers provided, either through the scriptures that the Lord will lead us to, or by being led to someone of knowledge who has the answers we are seeking.
The answers to all of Marty’s questions are “out there.” The positives I take from his statements are that he is thirsty for understanding. He is thirsty for the knowledge of why these things are so.
Anyone who looks diligently and through prayer will find answers because one thing I have learned is that the Lord wants His people to know what is going on. The Lord does not keep His people in the dark.
Failure in the Church
But because these issues have arisen, and I am certain it is not just Marty asking these questions, one has to wonder what went wrong. Why were these answers not forthcoming from the Church and/or the leaders of the Church?
And if the church has failed one of it’s own, who was a key part of the Church ministry team, how many others has it failed? More importantly, why did the Church fail Marty and possibly others?
It would be easy to blame the individuals in question, and some commentary I have seen has done exactly that.
We know that there is always a floating population of people who move from one church to another, always seeking but never settling. They don’t settle because they cannot find a church that aligns with their own way of thinking.
Sometimes this is good and sometimes it is not. Sometimes they lack depth or stability. Sometimes they follow a particular preacher from one church to the next. Sometimes they identify flaws and problems in the ministry and doctrine of the church and so they move on. And sometimes they may have outgrown the ministry and are seeking more.
Marty was a member of the Church he attended for more than twenty years, so he was not part of the floating population. This suggests that if he was not getting his questions answered, then it’s either a flaw in the church, or he had outgrown the ministry of the Church and the Lord is leading him elsewhere.
Clearly, he does not know where he is being led (yet), but as he continues to question and seek the Lord over his issues, he will find the answer.
I pray that Marty finds what he is seeking, and I pray the same for all Christians, because experience has taught me that when we seek the Lord diligently, we will find the answers we need.
Since retiring from work, John Lemmon now spends his time teaching, preaching and writing about the word of God, online and offline, answering God's call on him to “Speak to my people.” You can connect with John on Twitter (@JohnBLemmon) or on his website: freegiftfromgod.com/ or listen to his podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/the-free-gift-from-god-podcast/id1440682375