Goodbye Jesus: What People Who Walk Away from God Have in Common
If you watch this, you'll watch one of the most common sabotagers of people's faiths
Last summer, I saw a friend in the most depressing of circumstances.
When he was in youth group, I looked after him because he was my friend. He loved Jesus more than any other young person. He loved to teach and read the Bible. I knew that God had a plan for his life. In the end, he did go into ministry. For a while, he did it.
But when I saw him a year ago at an outdoor shopping center, I knew he was different.
I wanted to catch up and talk about how God was working in our lives, but I could see that nothing was making sense.
The happiness I had seen was gone. You can tell right away with some people. They don't talk about Jesus anymore. They stop telling stories about God. I recently scrolled through his Twitter account. I remember thinking, as I scanned it, "Wow, this guy is really mad now."
I was sure that he had begun to turn away from God. And it really hurt me.
I wish I could say this was common, but it wasn't. But since I've been following Jesus for 20 years, this is one of the things I see most often.
People love God, but then they stop loving him. People have great callings on their lives, but they ignore them.
I'm not trying to be judgmental. I'm only here to ask, "Why?"
From my own experience, I've learned that everyone I know who has turned away from God has at least one thing in common.
It's because they haven't learned how to deal with pain in a godly way.
Pain is like a seed that grows inside of us. something that happened in someone's life. Some great disappointment. There is some wrong in the world.
I know that it was a big disappointment for this person during their time in ministry. It was thought to be one way, but it ended up being another. There are a lot of these kinds of circumstances.
But pain is a seed, no matter what caused it. This seed starts to grow inside of us. And if we don't handle it well, it starts to turn our hearts away from God instead of toward God. Pain is a crack in the heart that Satan uses to plant all kinds of things. He plants anger, jadedness, and bitterness.
And it starts to change people into people we don't know. Their pain makes them love God less and less. Because of their pain, they can't see God.
Now, the unthinkable has come true. Even though when they were young they swore they would have no other god but him, now pain has become their god.
And when people worship pain, they follow it and do what it says. They learn lessons from it. They listen to it and are changed by it.
People turn away from God in this way. Psalm 2 talks about a time when people "raged against God." I think there will be a group of people who are angry because they are hurting inside. They have turned their pain toward God.
I am not Jesus. I wish those people could see the God who heals our hurts, who is bigger than their view of the world, and who knows that anger is not a way to live. I hope they would see the Jesus who cried in the garden before going to the cross. That they wouldn't let their pain make them angry at God, but instead would turn it into trust.
If you are reading this, here is some good news: Watch how you deal with pain.
If you pay attention to how you deal with pain in your life, you can protect your faith from the things that make many people lose their faith.
I say this because I also need to remember it. Many times in my own life, the source of pain has put me at a crossroads. By God's grace, I have tried to choose him at every turn. I've tried choosing forgiveness, choosing wonder, and choosing independence.
Have you seen pain change your faith or the lives of people you care about in this way?
Reply to this email or let me know in the comments below!