In over 50 years as a Christian, I have seen a lot of people come and go from the faith. Some have been prominent believers who deny Christ and begin to oppose Him and His church.
(Our son Danny posed for this photo)
For example, a few years ago I attended a debate on the campus of the University of California San Diego. A Christ-follower debated an atheist who had formerly been a pastor! The former-pastor-turned-atheist argued vehemently against Christianity.
In preparing my recent blog on “4 Reasons You Can Love and Trust the Bible Today” I studied the story of Chuck Templeton. He was on his way to becoming the next Billy Graham. Instead, he rejected the Bible and Christianity. (For a good article about him and his book denying the faith, click HERE.)
Likewise my former Bible college classmate Bart Ehrman has become an infamous critic of Christianity and the Bible. I wrote about him HERE.
We should NOT be at all surprised at these defections. After all, our Savior Himself lost one of his top twelve: Judas. He not only denied Christ, he betrayed Him in the worst way, turning him over to be killed.
After His betrayal, as Jesus was being arrested, we read: “All of Jesus’ disciples ran off and left him.” (Mark 14:50 CEV)
In observing deserters, I have become convinced that often their core objections to Christianity and the Bible are not really intellectual. There are other underlying issues.
I am NOT suggesting that there are not real intellectual questions and issues that people have with the Bible and Christianity. What I am suggesting is that often the real reasons lie elsewhere.
Here are three REAL reasons for rejecting Jesus and my response:
1. They are bothered by human suffering.
Some, like my former classmate Bart Ehrman, admit that they mistrust Scripture because God allows suffering. Perhaps they or someone close to them has suffered terribly. They can’t understand why a loving God would allow anyone to experience such misery.
I gave an extended answer to this issue in 3 blogs which you can start reading HERE.
While my heart goes out to these people, I think they are terribly short-sighted. They insist that God run HIS universe THEIR way.
In essence, they are saying that they know better than the all-knowing God, and since He won’t do things their way, they reject the Almighty Creator of the universe. Wow!
Everyone’s life is a mixture of pleasure and pain. Rather than asking why we are so blessed with so many pleasures, these people demand to have pain eliminated. When God doesn’t comply, they run away from home like a spoiled pre-adolescent.
The Bible tells us why God has not ended suffering yet: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 ESV)
Do you see it? Suffering will be ended when Jesus returns. But so will the opportunity to be saved. So Jesus is waiting patiently so that people will repent and be saved.
Physical pain is a warning that something is wrong and is endangering our bodies. Emotional pain is a warning that something is wrong with the universe and our relationship with God. Will you heed the warning? Jesus is patiently waiting for you to turn to Him.
God has given you a choice and it is up to you to make the right decision before it is too late.
2. They would rather condemn Scripture than bow down to its Author.
This issue is simple: people want to live life their own way, rather than God’s way.
Some simply say “no thanks” to the Bible. Others look for reasons to justify their unbelief. Either option spells disaster.
Romans chapter 1 describes this kind of thinking:
“Ever since God created the world, his invisible qualities, both his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made. So those people have no excuse at all! They know God, but they do not give him the honor that belongs to him, nor do they thank him. Instead, their thoughts have become complete nonsense, and their empty minds are filled with darkness. They say they are wise, but they are fools.” (Romans 1:20-22 GNB)
Indeed, it is foolish to receive the clearly written Owner’s Manual for life, and reject it and its Author.
3. They are disillusioned by believers.
First, I must acknowledge that many have been deeply disappointed by people who call themselves Christians.
However, to deny Christianity because of “phonies” is unwise, and often just a smokescreen.
Read the papers and you will learn about crooked politicians, corrupt police officers, incompetent medical practitioners, dishonest judges and so on. But most people are smart enough to understand that we don’t disregard all political systems, police forces, medical practices and judicial systems because there are some bad eggs.
If someone is looking for an excuse for rejecting Jesus, this is as good as any. But it is illegitimate and very dangerous. It’s like saying: Because some people are betrayers like Judas, I will become a betrayer like Judas.
Furthermore, those who take this excuse ignore the incredible good done by believers throughout Christian history. For an exhaustive study of this issue I suggest the wonderful book What if Jesus Had Never Been Born by D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe.
In summary, these are indeed 3 reasons for rejecting Jesus. The problem is they are all tragically shortsighted.