Disappointment with God Part 3
Doubting God
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
February 2, 2003

Is God real? Does He care? Is He even there? Is He there for me? All questions sincere people ask all the time. Why? Because theyíve experienced heartache. Theyíve been disappointed. Theyíve been disillusioned.

What do I mean when I say disillusioned? Iím talking about you having certain negative realities discourage you, bring you down, and disenchant you with Christianity. Iím talking about you being turned off of God and being disappointed with Him due to other factors happening in your life.

What I want this morning is look at five different things that can cause this to happen. Things that can cause you to wonder if Godís there for you, things that can make you disillusioned about God, the church, and Christianity.

Okay? Letís get started. What are some things that cause people to become disillusioned? What are some things that make people question God and give up on Him?


What Causes People to Doubt God?


1. Hypocritical Christians

It was probably about 18 years ago that I attended a Christian Athlete Hockey Camp. And it was really a lot of fun. They had players from the NHL there helping us to develop our hockey skills. Players like Jean Proniveau, Dwight Schoefield (who used to be a tough guy with the St. Louis Blues) and Mark Osborne, who played with the Leafs in the mid to late 90ís. And the thing about this camp was that it was Christian, and we would get together every evening for a service where weíd sing a bit and hear one of the professional hockey players talk about the importance of God in their lives.

But you know, I canít remember anything any of them said. In fact, I remember very little about the camp... except for two little songs. One of them I learned at the back of the bus on the way to the rink. And actually I need your help if Iím going to do this.

Basically itís the military thing: You echo back what I sing to you.

I know a girl named Sally Brown,
Weighs 390 pounds.
One day Sally went for a stroll,
Got hit by a truck and started to roll.
Sally got up and looked around,
Fainted right there and fell back down.

Obviously that song has had a lot of spiritual meaning for me over the years. And it stirs my heart anytime I think of it.

The other song is one that some of you may have learned someplace else, but I learned it at this camp:

I donít want to be a goat, hope.
I donít want to be a goat, nope.
Cause a goat ainít got no hope, nope.
I donít want to be a goat, nope.

And there were a bunch of verses to it but one that sticks out is:

I donít want to be a hypocrite.
I donít want to be a hypocrite.
Always saying, never doing it.
I donít want to be a hypocrite.

Itís amazing how easily one hypocritical person can completely turn someone off. And the sad fact is that there are a lot of hypocrites around. People who claim to believe in God and hold to Christian values but who live a lifestyle that doesnít honour God and who treat other people with contempt, who donít live like they say the do, and these people really embarrass the Church. They embarrass me.

And itís a terrible thing when people look to these hypocrites as the example of what it means to be a Christian. But the Church should not be judged based on their actions, and God should not be judged based on their actions. Especially since God in no way condones a hypocritical lifestyle. In fact, Jesus often rebuked people for that very reason. What does the Bible say about hypocrisy?

1 Peter 2:1 (NLT)
So get rid of all malicious behavior and deceit. Don't just pretend to be good! Be done with hypocrisy and jealousy and backstabbing.

Obviously, God does not approve of hypocrisy. Itís something He hates.

I believe it was Gandhi who said that he had often thought of following Jesus, and possibly would have, had it not been for Christians. He had met enough of them that they turned him off. And itís really too bad that there were hypocrites who had infiltrated the Church, and itís too bad that Gandhi allowed people who werenít adequate representatives of what Christianityís all about to make up his mind for him.


2. Previous Failure

Sometimes itís not so much that people are turned off from God as it is that they feel God could never love them. They just feel like theyíre not good enough.

When I was growing up I took piano lessons. But there was one girl who was actually a year younger than me, who was one of the best young piano players in the city of Fredericton. And it just so happened that we attended the same church. And I fell into the trap of comparing myself with her, and I just didnít measure up. And I knew it. Compared to her I felt like a failure. So I wasnít motivated to practice, I shied away from playing in public, and for a while my skills just werenít developed. Now I eventually got over that, and today I can play in our services knowing that there are probably other people here that can play much better than me. That doesnít phase me anymore. But for a while, I felt like a failure and it almost made me give up.

Sometimes our failures take the form of sin, things we do against God. In the Bible, David was a murderer and an adulterer. He had an affair with a married woman, got her pregnant, and then arranged for her husband to be killed. Nice guy. He failed, but God forgave him. Paul made a career out of attacking the early church and killing Christians. But God changed his life and made him into one of the greatest men of all time, the man chiefly responsible for spreading Christianity beyond the Jewish community. Peter denied that he even knew Jesus in order to protect himself, but Jesus later gave him the mantle of leadership over the early church. And then thereís Judas. Judas betrayed Jesus and handed him over to be killed. The reason I bring him up is that I believe that had he not committed suicide, Jesus could have forgiven and restored him, too.

The point is, no failure is final, whether itís caused by sin or by inability or by any other factors.

Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.
~ Zig Ziglar

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
~ Confucius

Do not allow any past failure in your life to put you down for the count. If we gave up and decided were werenít good enough every time we fell down, none of us would have ever learned to walk.


3. Past Hurts

Iíve got an uncle who back when he was in college was hurt by the church. I donít think I need to go into any detail other than top say that he felt betrayed and embarrassed and hurt by the church. And he has allowed that it affect him to the point that today God does not have any significant place in his life.

Anyone remember the song, ďBroken WingsĒ? Thereís some good advice in the lyrics of that song for anyone who has experienced any kind of hurt in their life:

by Mr. Mister

Take these Broken Wings
And learn to fly again, learn to live so free
When we hear the voices sing
The book of love will open up and let us in

Stephen Covey says,

ďIt isnít what happens to us that does the serious damage, itís our chosen response to whatís happened to us.Ē
~ Stephen Covey, Living The Seven Habits

Donít allow past failures, even failures in your relationship with Christ, to make you give up. Make it your chosen response to get back up and try again.


4. Personal Pride

Personal pride is that voice inside you that tells you that you donít need God. It tells you that you can get through life and make it to heaven on your own. This line of thinking has disillusioned many, and is, in fact, the basis of many cults.

I know plenty of people who would think, ďYou know, Iím a pretty good person, Iím a good neighbor, Iím kind to children, I donít get drunk, I donít swear, I donít cheat on my taxes, Iím faithful to my spouse, I even attend church and put money in the offering.Ē But you know what? That wonít do it for you. They wonít guarantee you a ticket into heaven.

Billy Graham has traveled all over the world preaching to thousands and thousands of people, telling them about the love of God. But thatís not enough. Heís done a lot of work for God but that does not earn him a place in heaven. Mother Theresa during her lifetime cared for many of the worlds lowest people, the real down and outers on the streets of Calcutta, inspiring others to do the same. When she died there was a cry from all across the Catholic Church and beyond to immediately declare that she was a saint. But not even her humble lifestyle and sacrificing nature would have done it for her. If she had relied solely on her good deeds, there would have been something missing.

What does the Bible say?

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)
God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Romans 3:28 (NLT)
So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

John 14:6 (NLT)
Jesus told him, ďI am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.Ē


5. World Suffering

How can a loving God allow such terrible things to happen in this world? How can he allow a teenager to blow himself up in the streets of Jerusalem, killing innocent bystanders? How could He allow four airplanes to be hijacked and flown into the Wolrd trade Center and the Pentagon? How could he allow seven astronauts to be killed yesterday when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke up upon re-entry? How could he allow several more people to be killed yesterday in another avalanche in British Columbia?

Weíre going to talk more about this in a couple weeks. For now, let me share this with you:

I caught part of an episode of Popular Mechanics For Kids a while back, which is actually a pretty good show. Anyone ever see it? In this particular episode they were discussing cross contamination. One of the kids that hosts the show showed one of the ways that cross-contamination with food can happen, leading to food poisoning. They showed him making a hamburger for his sister. He started by taking some raw ground beef and forming it into the shape of a burger. Then he put it on a plate, took it to the stove, and started frying it, wiping his nose a few times in the process. He took it off the stove while it was still pink inside (the burger, not his nose) and put it back on the same plate. Then he started taking lettuce and slices of tomatoes and onions, while never washing the raw meat juices off his hands, and put them on the burger.

About that time a health inspector showed up and explained everything that he did wrong, and talked about how all the food had been cross-contaminated and was dangerous. Was the health inspector the one who caused the problem? No, it was the kid making the burger. If anyone's to blame it's the kid who caused the cross-contamination, not the health inspector.

So why is it that we blame God for the cross-contamination we have caused in this world through our sinfulness? You know what I believe? I believe that Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world, free from disease and heartache and tornadoes and volcanoes and earthquakes and terrorist attacks. But when they disobeyed God and betrayed Him, sin entered the world and messed up everything. Adam and Eve were contaminated with sin, they cross contaminated all of creation, and it has been passed down through every generation right down to us today.

Romans 3:23 (NLT)
For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard.

It also tells us that God can remove the contamination from our lives, but won't impose Himself on us.

Acts 3:19-20 (NLT)
Now turn from your sins and turn to God, so you can be cleansed of your sins. Then wonderful times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will send Jesus your Messiah to you again.

Well, those are five of the things that can cause doubts and disillusionment with God. And the truth is that from time to time we all encounter one of these factors or some other factors that cause us to doubt God. Let me give you four things to remember when that happens:



In Times of Doubt, RememberÖ


A. When we think God is still, He is active behind the scenes.

B. When we think God is removed, He is there holding our hand.

C. When we think God is silent, He is hanging on every word we say.

D. When we think God is going to fail us, He always come through.



The Main Thing


ďThe main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Thatís the main thing.Ē
~ Steven Covey

The main thing for a Christian is to Focus On Jesus.

Focus on Him, not on everything and everyone else. If you base your faith in me or anyone else, youíre going to be disappointed. Because Iíll fail you and let you down. But focus on Jesus and Heíll never fail you.

Three things:

ē Keep Your Eyes On Christ

In the passage we read earlier in the service,

Hebrews 12:2 (CEV)
We must keep our eyes on Jesus...


ē Keep Your Mind On Christ

Later on in that same passage it said;

Hebrews 12:3 (CEV)
So keep your mind on Jesus...


ē Keep Your Faith In Christ

2 Timothy 3:15 (CEV)
Since childhood, you have known the Holy Scriptures that are able to make you wise enough to have faith in Christ Jesus and be saved.



Copyright © Greg Hanson, 2003 SunriseOnline.ca