Have you ever struggled with doubt? I mean real doubt in your faith? This is the journey that Hillsong song writer Marty Sampson is going through right now. I have been a Christian since I was 13 years of age and I certainly did not have all the puzzle pieces back then, but there was enough for me to take that leap of faith into believing God existed and that Jesus died for my sins. Recently like so many other Christians we were surprised (or not surprised at all) that a leader within Australia’s biggest church Hillsong, had publicly announced via social media that his faith was on rocky ground and that he was no longer one of us (the Christian family).
Some of the things he posted are serious questions that absolutely will eat away at your faith when doubt starts to creep in, here is the tweet:
This is a soapbox moment so here I go … How many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it. How many miracles happen. Not many. No one talks about it. Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send four billion people to a place, all ‘coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it. Christians can be the most judgmental people on the planet—they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people. But it’s not for me
Ashamedly I was one of many who were pretty judgemental of him over this post. “Man, he must have been living a dodgy life, and has decided to walk away from Jesus because he wants to be master over his own destiny.”
Stupid, stupid, Jarred.
Instead of being someone who could potentially reach out and help a brother in need, I lowered myself to the lowest common denominator and judged a man I don’t know at all.
Mistakes have been made
On a couple of occasions as a young Christian I fell into the trap of judgement instead of trying to seek why a brother or sister had fallen away. I had a great group of friends growing up through high school, we all went to church, we all went to youth group, but most of that changed once we graduated school. My group of friends decided they wanted to party, drink and just live life a little. One by one they slowly stopped coming to church, stopped talking about the Lord and started doubting most of the claims made by Christianity. I was so angry with them, I got all holier than thou, passed judgement, said some things I should not have said, and stopped doing life with them. I regret this more than most will know, my behaviour toward this group of guys 15 or more years ago, still haunts me and is a reminder that I could have done better, should have done better. Every one of them is of eternal importance to the Lord, I wish I hadn’t of been so blind.
After digesting Marty Sampson’s story for a bit longer and pondering on how this could have happened, it struck me. What role did the leaders and believers of Hillsong church play in this? Were they the support he needed? All of us suffer from doubt, there are questions that pop up that need genuine well thought out answers.
My old church back in Brisbane in my eyes is still the bench mark of equipping and supporting its members. I always felt accepted and loved there, there was always someone to talk to. Once a month there would be sermons dedicated to Christian Apologetics, we tackled a lot of tough questions, faith destroying questions for most and honestly, I reckon more than a few of us today were equipped to wrestle through some of the toughest questions and toughest experiences that life could throw our way.
Not everyone’s experience is the same though, I get that. Some of us have very unique circumstances that bring us to a crisis point in our faith. The growth and development of our faith is a family/church community responsibility. On a personal level, we need to actively seek answers for the questions we have, the leadership of churches need to provide sermons and resources that will help equip its members and the community has to be prepared to give an answer for the faith that we believe in 1 Peter chapter 3, verse 15.
What will your response be to a brother or sister who is falling away? Will you pray for them? Will you talk to them? Will you help them wrestle with their doubt? Or will you judge them and walk away from doing life with them? As a community let’s choose to wrestle with life’s greatest questions and worst experiences together, to ensure that no one gets left behind and be Jesus’ hands and feet here on earth.
Jarred is an HPE and Mathematics teacher on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. He is married to Haley and has three beautiful children Chelsea, Nathan and Ryan.