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What If I Don’t Believe This Anymore?

“You’ve been called a voice of your generation” the podcast interviewer said. “What is your role in shaping faith as we know it in America?

“Haha, I’ve been called a lot of things.” I deflect with my signature brand of self-deprecating humor.

“I’ve learned over the last few years my role is to cut through the bullshit. Sorry, can I say that? Should we edit that out? Let’s take it again.”

I know from your frequent emails what an imperfect Christian I am. The swear words are a manifestation of the struggle within and my way of showing I will never pretend to be the pious, crew cut Jesus-boy character I am expected to portray.

Oh Mylanta did I try though. Uffda. Look at my life from age 23-29:

  1. I taught Sunday School, Middle School and High School Youth Group.

  2. I mentored some amazing young men.

  3. I chaperoned a dozen retreats.

  4. I led a high school life group.

  5. I played on worship teams.

  6. I helped build a young adults group and hosted bible studies at my house.

  7. I served in Zimbabwe, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and three savage camping trips to the Wisconsin Dells…

  8. I launched a blog and published over 150 posts.

  9. I spoke at a theology conference and on a seminary podcast.

  10. I shared the gospel on public radio on Easter.

  11. I led a prayer group at work.

  12. I let a megachurch film a video of my story and share it to over 150,000 people.

  13. I launched 53 speaking events in 9 states.

And yet, despite thousands of hours trying to serve the crap out of Jesus, for most of the last year I can’t shake this rattle in my heart:

What if I don’t believe this anymore?

Gasp! Someone dare speak their doubts aloud? Summon the church elders! What are they going to do, excommunicate me again?

A Christian blogger not blindly lying to people about how easy following Jesus is? Burn him at the stake!

I set out as a young believer to find my people, to find those who loved well and gave a damn about something more than cliques and gourmet doughnut holes.

And while there are a few beautiful exceptions, I can’t help wonder how Jesus can be real if so many of those who follow him are the most two-faced, vile people I have ever met?

Well that took a turn.

One time my counselor gave me a homework assignment to write out every Christian who’d deeply wounded me.

Three hours later I completed the list. 57 names. FIFTY-SEVEN NAMES.

The pastor who called me a source of darkness. The church worker who promised to help in the fallout and forgot I existed. The families that invited me in and pushed me out.

How can this be true?

The mentor who pried his way into my life only to abandon me in time of greatest need. The “friends” who stopped inviting me to small group while posting weekly photos online. The “welcoming” mens group that gave me a journal imprinted with the words, “You aren’t a real man until you’re married.”

Jesus, are you there?

The pastor who ripped into my suicidal ideation live on the radio. The church worker who openly mocked my blog while I was standing behind him. The friends I dropped everything for who in-turn dropped me.

How can you be real?

The people I dared to share about my suicidal thoughts who never came to visit when I was in and out of treatment. The team that celebrated my most vulnerable story on display at their mega church and never bothered to ask after how I was. The old friends who say, “Love following you on social media” and never reach out.

Where in God’s name is anyone who cares?

The lies. The hate. The trash talking. The conniving. The ulterior motives. The letdowns. The heartbreak. The indifference. The inability to care or love anyone well. The audacity to invoke the name of Jesus—this man who died on a cross for all our sins—only to treat other believers like steaming piles of disposable dog shit.

How can this be true? Jesus, are you there? How can you be real? Where in God’s name is anyone who cares?

In my heart of hearts, I desperately want the Bible to be real. I need there to have been a man who spent his entire life loving and serving people, who went toe to toe with the pious assholes and won. Who showed compassion to people in their darkest hour instead of leaving them to be stoned in the middle of the street.

I need there to be Christians who care about actually making a damn difference instead of being obsessed with which pastor they prefer and why coffee stand doesn’t have pumpkin spice in stock yet.

What would my life be if I hand’t spent a decade giving everything to God? Would I be happier? Would I have better friends? Would I still be alive?

What does it mean if the people who have actually been there for me don’t proclaim to know Jesus at all?

I, more than most it seems, know that God’s character isn’t changed by the crusades of life. That is, if God is real, if he had a son named Jesus, the horrendous incapabilities of his followers only point to a greater and more desperate need for a savior.

Nevertheless, despite my years tirelessly serving Him, I can’t seem to cut through the bullshit this time. I can’t pretend anymore. Like most of my millennial peers, I can’t seem to quiet the rattling questions in my brain.

If I am a voice of my generation, this burned out, exhausted, beaten down voice is whimpering…

How can this be true? Jesus, are you there? How can you be real? Where in God’s name is anyone who cares?


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2 ความคิดเห็น

02 ก.ค. 2565

Hi Sam

My wife sent me your article today as I have been a non-believer/agnostic for 5-6 years now, but only open about it to her within the last couple years. As I read the article many thoughts came to my head and then when I read the only comment so far, Guest#4946 said exactly many of the things coming to my mind, even responding almost a year after the article. Must be a "God Thing" (not).

I no longer believe in the god and the Jesus of the Bible. There is no longer a way in my mind to do the mental gymnastics it takes to reconcile the Old Testament god to the New Testament god. The OT go…


14 มิ.ย. 2565

Hey, Sam. I'm Bee. I'm a former evangelical who read this ages ago and is only responding now.

The answer to your questions, if I'm being honest, is that humanity is a beautiful thing. God, Buddha, and other deities worshipped today were created out of a desire to bring peace to a dangerous world; after all, a great being in the sky that rewards peace and punishes those who do harm to others is a great way to ensure everyone treats each other with respect.

However, the modern evangelical church is an absolute perversion of these ideals. Most supposed "Bible-believing Christians" are simply conservatives who wish to feel righteous in their hatred of others and their own feeling of smug…

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