What’s happening? Not long ago, just a couple of weeks ago to be exact, I heard that a major Christian figure had renounced his faith and was walking away from Jesus, essentially saying “I want nothing more to do with the Christian faith.” Joshua Harris, had been a respected Christian leader and pastor of a mega-church since the 90’s. He wrote the Christian best seller, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” that had been a guiding source for many young Christians and helped to establish the abstinence movement that swept churches and Christian youth groups. Since that time he has been the pastor of a mega-church and a noted Christian speaker and conference leader, highly respected and considered a stalwart of the faith. But a few weeks ago he went public on social media with the shocking news that he was divorcing his wife after 21 years of marriage and three children and renouncing his Christian faith. He wrote on social media… and I quote, “I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction,’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’ By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.” Don’t take his “trendy” language there to indicate that he is just disillusioned with the faith or church. It’s more than that really! He went on to explain in his lengthy post, and prior and subsequent posts that he is walking away from it all… his faith, Christianity, his church, Jesus, what he thought was salvation, and his family. Wow!
Then almost within a breath-shot of Joshua Harris’ departure from his faith, along came a second unexpected abandonment of Jesus and the Christian faith. One of the writers of some of Hillsong’s biggest worship songs said he’s “losing his faith.” Marty Sampson whose writing credits include O Praise the Name and King of Majesty took to Instagram to share how he was feeling about his beliefs. Addressing his 5,000 followers on the social media site, he said, “Time for some real talk… I’m genuinely losing my faith… and it doesn’t bother me.” Sampson then went on to list a number of questions in his post that he’s battling with. He wrote, “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 4 billion people to a place, all coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it.” His statement and premise that no one talks about those seemingly difficult issues is blatantly false. When he states, “No one talks about it!” I would respond, “Actually they do talk about those things only always!” Countless volumes, books, speeches, seminars, sermons have addressed those issues for generations. You may not like the answers and you may reject the truths, but you simply can’t say no one talks about those things unless you are really out of touch. Anyway, while Marty Sampson began his post by suggesting he’s “losing faith” he later suggests he’s fully moved on stating “I am not in anymore.” The Pastor/Worship leader has worked with the very influential and powerful ministry of mega-church movement, Hillsong for over 20 years. Wow! That’s why I ask the question, “What is happening?”
I have a few thoughts about these things, for what they are worth. I’m quite sure that I don’t have all the answers, nor can I presume to understand what is going on in the minds of these men or what they are dealing with in their own personal struggle. I do know that it ought to break our hearts as believers anytime we see one walk away from the faith. After all the heartbeat of the Christian ought to be to see people come to Jesus not to walk away from Him. So, first of all I say, say a prayer or two (or a whole bunch) for Joshua Harris and Marty Sampson, and their families. And while you’re at it pray for your brother and sisters in the faith… for each other in the church, that God might keep our eyes ever focused on Him, and that He might protect us all from the deceiving spirit of our age and the evil one. Pray for me, your pastor, the same. Please, please, please!
Second, let this remind each of us that none of us are above falling and falling hard, like a Joshua Harris, or a Marty Sampson, or like others we’ve known or heard of, or like a Peter, or a Thomas, or a Judas. Don’t think your own faith can’t be shaken, that you can’t experience some of the same doubts and struggles that these men struggle with. If it can happen to them, it can happen to you, so stay humble, filled with grace and prayed up. Remember these words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:12closeERROR: The IP key is no longer supported. Please use your access key, the testing key 'TEST'closeERROR: The IP key is no longer supported. Please use your access key, the testing key 'TEST', “12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
Third, beware putting man… any man, or woman, or leader, or preacher or respected person in your life on a pedestal. No one should be high and lifted-up but Jesus. He is the only one worthy of such a place, and the only one who will never truly never let you down or fall from His lofty place. So many times I’ve seen it… we put those we admire or respect, a respected pastor or leader on that pedestal to our own hurt and demise. They are bound to fall off. It’s too high, man cannot attain it. These two poor men along with others today have become known as “celebrity pastors”… sort of “pedestal sitters” just waiting to be knocked off. They are like sitting ducks in a carnival shooting range, and the enemy is going to knock them off. As believers we ought not to be putting men up on that pedestal … only God on the pedestal of our lives. When we put man on a pedestal we are setting him up! Don’t do it! The pressure is too much and they will collapse under the weight of it, and usually take a host of others down with them.
One final thought here. We should not be surprised to see men falling away in our day. Don’t be disillusioned, scared, put-off in your own faith. Jesus warned us of it in Scripture. Jesus said in Matthew 24:10closeERROR: The IP key is no longer supported. Please use your access key, the testing key 'TEST'closeERROR: The IP key is no longer supported. Please use your access key, the testing key 'TEST', “At that time (in the last days) many will turn away from the faith…” We are living in those last days according to God’s Word, so don’t be surprised when you see it happening. And the Apostle Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:1closeERROR: The IP key is no longer supported. Please use your access key, the testing key 'TEST'closeERROR: The IP key is no longer supported. Please use your access key, the testing key 'TEST', “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” We are living in just such a day, and although it ought to sadden our heart, it ought not to catch us off guard. Rather it ought to spur us to “guard” our heart, to dig into His word, to stay prayed and confessed up, to seek God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. So, guard your heart, and keep your eyes fully focused on Him. Dig into His truth. Don’t be disillusioned by our day, and don’t be discouraged. God is good and faithful and true even to the end of the age, and we win… He wins in the end, so keep your head up! God’s blessing to you, Bro. Buddy