I wish this title were actually click bait… but it’s true. There are many who have walked away from God, and after talking with them or hearing their stories – I don’t blame them, I would have walked away from “that god” too.
The truth is when I hear a “deconversion” story, (a story of someone abandoning their faith) one of the first things I do is try to figure out what “god” they claimed to believe in. One or two common ones usually show up, but very rarely do I hear of people who walk away from the God that I have put my hope and trust in. It’s usually some version of Him that has been twisted, altered, and changed to the degree that it’s no longer the fullness of God… but a version of a god who they thought was real.
Several months ago, a well-known pastor in Atlanta (Andy Stanley) was catching some serious controversy over a series he did called “Who Needs God.” He was getting a lot of flack from “churched” people, so obviously I was very interested in what he was doing. (I know it’s strange, but whenever today’s Pharisees get angry about something, it usually means that it’s something Jesus might have done!)
In one of his messages, he shared a list of “gods” that people have walked away from and I recognized several of the ones I have also seen in my life.
Here was his list: The God’s of the No Testament
Bodyguard God – he’s here to keep anything bad from happening to you
On-demand God – he’s here to grant our requests (like a genie)
Boyfriend God – you feel him constantly, he’s always with you, and you never fight
Guilt God – he motivates you by condemnation, guilt, and fear.
Anit-Science God – check your brains at the door, God doesn’t want you to understand anything
Gap God – when we can’t explain it, we shove this God in the gap and call it faith
The ones I hear of people walking away from the most is Body Guard God, On-Demand God, and Guilt God. The Anti-Science and Gap Gods are ones that I find most people outside of the church just ASSUME is the God we follow, based on rumors and a few Christians they’ve met.
Here’s the point of this blog.
If you’re struggling with God, make sure you are following the actual God that you claim to be struggling with.
Many people claim to struggle with GOD (the God of Scripture), but everything they believe about that God came from a church, their own assumptions, or Christians who claimed to know what they were talking about – and VERY LITTLE actually lined up with what we read about God in Scripture.
Over my last 40 years, I’ve struggled many times in understanding God, feeling His Presence, and trying to reconcile the God I claim to follow vs. the God I WANT Him to be for me. Often, when I reach the end of my struggle, I’m actually closer to God than I was before. After I’ve spent time rejecting what was assumed (thus incorrect) about God and discovering what was TRUE about God, I felt that I was drawn closer in relationship with Him.
Don’t minimize the postivie tension that struggling with God can bring to your life. It could be the BEST thing that you could do.
Take a moment and think about what you BELIEVE to be true about God? Write a few of those things down. NOW – spend some time in the next week and study the scripture to see if what you believe ABOUT GOD is actually TRUE OF HIM.
When Jesus told the story of the Prodigal son to a crowd of religious leaders and Pharisees, he was trying to help them SEE a picture of God that he already knew would contradict what they believed about God. Jesus spent a great deal of time bringing about this kind of TENSION to help people move towards a relationship with their Creator through Him.
Some will struggle and walk away from God. Before you JUMP to conclusions, judge them, and condemn them, make sure they actually were following the God of Scripture. Chances are HIGH that they walked away from a God that you would have also walked away from also. Acknowledge it, and then pray for the opportunity to help them walk towards the ONE TRUE GOD together.
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