“We need to stop vilifying those who live in the tension of conflicted faith. Doubt isn’t a malevolent demon that we need to exorcise out of our brothers and sisters with sanctimonious words. It’s part of their story. It’s part of my story. Jude 22 says, ‘Be merciful to those who doubt.’” - Dominic Done
I was listening to an audio book entitled “When Faith Fails” by Dominic Done recently… He used a term I’ve never heard before in describing how many Christian’s view what their Faith should look like. He called Christians who avoid engaging in anything negative “Lego Christian’s”. Instantly I was playing the song in my head “Everything is Awesome”.
One of the things that has driven the deconstruction of many Gen Zs and millennials is the inauthenticity of the previous generation… that is my generation. I’d have to say that includes myself. There was a season where I adopted a bit of the mentality that I needed to “fake it til I make it”, avoid negativity, avoid admitting I didn’t have it together… and kids can see through inauthenticity. There was some teaching that said we needed to "confess positively"... and while my intentions may have been good… I was deceived into thinking I needed to put up a front until I had my faith aligned rather than show faith in its true form... authentic.
The Lego Movie storyline is about a Lego man named Emmet who is in what appears to be a perfect world… but there is an evil dark figure who is trying to super glue or freeze everything into this perceived perfection so nothing looks out of place. Emmet and his band of rebels eventually breaks through and challenges the dark figure to see that perfection is not the goal.
I’ve had bouts of anxiety and depression in my life… and tried to find support within the faith community I was a part of… which at times felt like talking to a wall. In our affluent North American culture, virtually no one wants to hear the negative, many do not understand how to respond to any variation of the popular consensus. This means that those who struggle with doubts, anxiety or depression are often left to their own devices. Honestly before I worked through my own anxiety and depression I didn’t know either how to respond. I bought into the “everything is awesome” gospel.
The reality is that in this world, and in the Church… everything is not always awesome. Sometimes things are just genuinely ugly underneath the veneer of even the most pious religious exterior. Part of my own healing has been understanding that biblical faith was not always like this faux Christianity. The Bible shows us that lament is part of life as much as joy… Job is a story of the darkest of depression, Ecclesiastes is a gathering of thoughts from the richest and wisest man in the world at the time… filled with a bit of a depressed and dark undertone as he realizes his wisdom and wealth did not bring him to happiness.
The writer of Ecclesiastes denied himself nothing in terms of desires… yet he was completely unfulfilled. He realizes in his writings everything is not awesome… and that is okay because true Godliness is contentment and surrender to God.
Christian’s in the last century, at least in North America have had it good… freedom of speech and a plethora of teachers to listen to. Christianity grew wide... though not all that deep with little opposition. Today, as Christianity and faith in general is challenged on every level we are finding everything is not awesome. Gaslighting and manipulation awaits anyone who wants to live a life following Jesus Christ. Pressure is increasing to conform to culture and its ever changing and often denigrating values.
We are being challenged to agree with culture without reservation or face it’s wrath. In this place of virtue signalling the Church is fracturing, it’s cracks and shallowness are being exposed… and it is in this place God can begin to work. Before we can heal the brokenness inside we need to acknowledge its existence.
Jesus said to the Church of Laodicia in Revelation…
“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
In John 5 Jesus says:
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people.”
In Jeremiah the prophet calls out the Levitical leaders saying…
“They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.
Then further on he says:
“Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.”
God understands our doubts and our brokenness… He is asking us to bring the doubt into the light so it can do the work it is supposed to do. If we want authenticity… it starts by stopping the pretence.
Skillet has a song called “Terrify the dark”… here is an excerpt from the song:
No power on Earth, no power in Hell
Is gonna steal my peace
Ten thousand enemies, they will
End up on their knees
When I'm hopeless, I can know this, you're with me
Your light will terrify the dark
I call upon the name
That tears another part
My doubt will answer to your scars
And fear will have no place
No hold upon my heart
When the Apostle John sent his disciples to ask Jesus “are you the one?”… he was struggling with doubt. Jesus did not condemn Johns doubt… neither does he Condemn ours. It is only when doubt turns to complete unbelief… an outright rejection of evident truth that we find ourselves truly separated from God.
Dominic Done in his book entitled “When Faith Fails” says:
“Doubt’s greatest strength is secrecy.… But if we name our doubts and drag them into the light, we may find resolution, or we may discover the tension of authentically living in a doubt-filled faith.”
I believe God is shaking the North American Church. He is calling on us as He did to Laodicia… our inauthenticity is like drinking tepid lukewarm water for the unsaved. He is asking us to lay down our dead works... to lay down our self sufficiency... to lift our lack and our doubt and let the light of Christ touch the brokenness as it comes to the surface in this arena of confession. Our agreement with God that He has paid the price in full for our lack will release a faith that lives in the real world.
Real faith isn't glued down and neat and tidy... it's allowing Christs resurrection power to be made more perfect in our weakness!