The title of this blog isn’t for shock value or to be controversial. It’s not meant as click bait to get more views generated. As a Christian man, it’s exactly how I feel. Let me explain….
A friend of mine recently called me to say that he was struggling; with life, with love, with his belief in God. In fact, he stated that he doesn’t believe in God anymore. He WANTS to believe, but with the things he’s experienced in his life, he just can’t put blind faith in the God of the Bible anymore. We had a good conversation, mostly just me listening to my friend, and asking questions about life in general, not about his losing faith in God. I made sure to let him know that I loved him, and that I actually have hope for his faith, simply because he said he wants to believe.
A couple of days after that phone call, the same friend got up the courage to post about his lack of belief in God on his personal Facebook page. I call this courageous because my friend has been a believer in the God of the Bible for many years, and this admission (as it were) would most likely alienate him from a large group of his friends that could not, or simply would not, understand. Sure enough, his post garnered a lot of “Come on bro, you KNOW that God is real!” and “Hey man, dig back into the Word of God and let it speak truth to you,” to the prerequisite “hey buddy, I’m NOT GONNA LET YOU quit believing in God!” As I read more and more christianese phrases and typical christian rhetoric, I just shook my head and pinched the bridge of my nose.
And then I got angry. I got “yell at an ignorant christian” angry!
Though a few responses were of the “I know what you’re going through, I’ve been there” nature, the majority of the responses to his post were from other Christians trying hard to lift my friend up with bible verses, or to encourage him to fight through his struggle to believe in God. I mean, that sounds like a good thing, right? In fact, how on earth could that ever be considered a bad thing, right? My issue is that most of those Christians didn’t offer friendship in that critical moment, they offered a book written thousands of years ago as an answer to a question my buddy wasn’t even asking. They tried so hard to point my friend back to the very Deity that he was having a hard time believing in, rather than asking him why he felt that way, or trying at all to find out what my brutha from anutha mutha was even going through that would lead him to make such a post in the first place.
Listen, I know that most of those posts offered up “wisdom” or “advice” with the best of intentions. It’s hard for people who still have faith in God to understand how someone else could come to lose their faith altogether, but they weren’t even trying to understand. They seemed to feel that it was their duty to throw scriptures at him, or to make him feel small or a failure for struggling to believe what they still hold as truth.
I posit that most of those responses to my friend’s disbelief only served to push him further away from what they were trying to accomplish with their posts. In fact, I’ve talked to my friend about this since, and he confirmed my suspicions to be true. Too often, we Christians speak before we think. Too often, we think that God NEEDS us to do His work, and that we actually know what that work looks like or entails! I’m sorry, but God absolutely and unequivocally does not need us to accomplish anything. Can He use us? Indeed He can! However, having the best of intentions is not enough if it’s the exact opposite of what someone needs! My buddy didn’t need a bible verse, he needed a friend. He didn’t need faith shaming, he needed someone to understand WHY he felt the way he did. He needed someone to just be there for him, to listen, and to love him unconditionally. I’m sure that’s what most of those christian friends thought that they were providing my brother, and I wish I could award points for that, and for good intentions. Sorry, that’s not the way it works.
When I was going through a divorce with my first wife, I didn’t need anyone to point out to me what the Bible said about divorce. Yet that’s what I received. I felt the judgment of many in my church at the time, even though it was my then wife who was proceeding with the divorce. I felt alone in my pain, alone with my thoughts and questions, alone to deal with the why of it all. I didn’t need scriptures or christian phrases like “God’s got you” or “God never gives us more than we can handle.” I needed someone to walk with me through the valley, to listen to my broken heart and show me love. I didn’t need answers or advice, I just needed someone to understand that I did have questions, and to walk with me in the midst of them.
If God is who He says He is, then He WILL make Himself known to those who are struggling with issues of faith, disillusionment or downright disbelief. As someone who talks a lot, sometimes it’s a struggle for me to just shut the fuck up and listen to people....or to listen to my Father. I truly believe that people of the Christian faith could do more good for the Kingdom of God by simply loving others unconditionally, listening to them, developing relationship with them....just being a friend...than they will ever do by throwing scriptures at an issue, even if it comes wrapped in the best of intentions. If you feel God telling you to quote a scripture for a Christian brother or sister, then by all means, be obedient.
My request is that you first find out how that person is doing and try to understand where they are coming from, and maybe give God time to actually speak to you so that He can speak through you, before tossing scriptures at a situation.