The Top Three Turn-Offs of Christianity
By Robin Schumacher
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These three turn-off's are heavy-hitting and have the potential to be devastating in people's lives. To be sure, answers for each have been given in many books and articles and I encourage those struggling with one or more of these stumbling blocks to seek out trusted Christian authors who have proven themselves to be Biblically wise in handling them.
But I would like to offer something for consideration that I've never seen anyone else bring up where these issues are concerned.
Part of the problem with each issue is that they appear to exist in a contradictory manner with what the Bible seems to teach. The thought process goes something like this:
The Bible proclaims an all-powerful good God who hates evil, answers prayers, and changes lives.In essence, people see an existential mismatch between the Bible and life as we experience it. But such thinking is actually incorrect. Stop for a minute and consider...
But all around me I see evil, unanswered prayer, and professing Christians who don't live right.
Therefore, the Bible is wrong and doesn't match up with reality.
In the Bible, sometimes the good brother is killed by the bad (Genesis 4:8), famines occur (Genesis 41:27), beloved wives like Rachel die in childbirth (Genesis 35:19), nations are conquered by countries more evil than themselves (Daniel 1:1-2), livelihoods, families, and good health are destroyed by the enemy (Job 1-2), a man who God says is the greatest to ever live is unjustly murdered in prison by an evil woman (Matthew 11:11; 14:1-12), righteous men's truthful sermons are rejected by a culture that even goes so far as to kill them (Acts 7), some prayers lifted up to spare the life of great Christians are granted (Acts 12:5, 12) while others are not (Acts 12:2).
And let's not forget the episode of how an innocent, sinless man's prayer to avoid death seems ignored (Matthew 26:42) and He ends up being traded for a known murderer (Matthew 27:21) and then crucified.
Where the lifestyle of God/Christ followers are concerned, the Bible's unvarnished exposé of its "heroes" and other professed believers mixes together episodes like Abraham lying about his wife (twice; Genesis 12:13, 20:2), Jacob deceiving his father to get Esau's blessing (Genesis 27), David committing adultery and then having the woman's husband killed (2 Samuel 11), with Judas' betrayal of Jesus (Matthew 26:47-50), the disciples abandoning Jesus (Matthew 26:56), Peter's denial of Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75), John-Mark leaving his missionary companions (Acts 13:13), Demas leaving Paul (2 Timothy 4:10), and more.
Not exactly the sugar coated happily-ever-after's and squeaky-clean characters you find in children's fairy tales.
The point is, the existence of evil, not obtaining the outcome of prayer that one desires, and flawed characters of God-followers are found everywhere in the Bible. Scripture actually very much relays — sometimes in stark and unvarnished ways — the seeming unfair reality we walk in each and every day. There is no existential mismatch between it and life.
That being true, what now are we to think? My answer is the alignment of the Bible's and our reality ought to give us hope. In Scripture, we see God redeeming great good from evil in situations such as where an innocent and sinless man's prayer for deliverance isn't answered, his close friend betrays Him, and He becomes what seems to be the tragic victim of evil.
The Bible shows us three days later why all that happened.
On this side of the cross, it's easy to reconcile the three top turn-off's of Christianity in Jesus' life. But when we're going through them and don't yet see the end God has in mind, we struggle.
In the Bible's pages we find the answer as to why evil exists and what God is one day going to do about it, why prayer doesn't work like a vending machine, and why some people who profess Christ aren't who they claim to be and why those who are true believers sometimes act like they aren't.
The question is, will we accept those answers? In the end, sometimes it comes down to really walking by faith and not by sight because we can't see the end of the road like God can.
Tough sledding sometimes? You bet. The key to overcoming these things and more is fixing our eyes on Christ who endured the "big three" issues of Christianity in His life and pressing on through them when they happen to us with hope and trust in a God who is bigger than all of them.
7. One book I recommend that tackles both the problem of evil and unanswered prayer well is William Lane Craig's book Hard Questions, Real Answers
Image Credit: Laurs; Edward and Ernest; Creative Commons
Tags: Hardships | Theological-Beliefs | Witnessing-Evangelism
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