with God Part 3
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
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
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
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
~ 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
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.