Marty was my favorite.
I came up as a worship leader in the days of Hillsong United's early albums. Joel, JD, Jad, Marty and Matt were like The Avengers for worship leaders. Everyone had their favorite, and Marty Sampson was mine.
After flying under the radar for years, Marty shared an explosive Instagram update:
"I'm genuinely losing my faith, and it doesn't bother me"
"All I know is what's true to me right now."
My heart broke when I saw this. Not because it's wrong to wrestle with your faith. Not because doubts and uncertainty don't come our way. But because his full statement revealed something deeper. He had rejected the God of the Bible for a god of his own design. And this god had failed him.
He isn't alone.
The version of Christianity Marty has rejected reaches throughout the globe.
I've been a pastor for 10 years, and I can confess, I'm tempted by its seductive call. This version has an age-old allure. We are the hero of our story. We are the masters of our fate. Here are a few statements from Marty's post:
"How many preachers Fall? Many."
Seeing our leaders fall is painful. When a pastor succumbs to moral failure, it's undeniably destructive. Right now, many of us still feel the pain from wounds wrought by an unfaithful pastor.
But these failings are not an indictment on the holiness of God. They're an indictment on the sinfulness of man. If anything, they just confirm that what God said about us is true. We are sinners. They confirm what Jesus has done is essential. We need a savior.
It's easy to hang our faith on leaders. In our head, we know Jesus is the only mediator between God and man. He is the only pure and perfect image of God. "But hey, what about this guy? Can he be my mediator too?" And if he falls, you crumble.
If you put your faith in man, your faith will fail.
"How many miracles happen? Not many"
My wife and I were told we may never be able to have kids. Doctor's appointments and tests revealed that conceiving would be nothing short of a miracle. And then it happened. We got pregnant. After countless hours of prayer, our miracle baby had come.
And then she was gone.
Our miscarriage is the most devastating thing I've been through. Not only because we lost a cherished life but because my wife and I were floating on our miracle. When that miracle was pulled away, we fell hard.
What is a miracle? It's God's supernatural intervention into our human world. Although God does choose - at times - to supernaturally intervene on our behalf, this isn't His ultimate purpose.
He's already performed the ultimate miracle. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." God became man and made a way for eternal reconciliation and rest with the Father.
Physical Healing can fade.
Financial provision can be lost.
Salvation is eternal.
Because of God's immeasurable grace, many of us receive both God's eternal miracle of salvation and experience temporal miracles throughout our life. But remember, God does not promise your preferred answer to every prayer or desired miracle for every hurt.
God is not obligated to conform to your will.
His primary mission is not to supernaturally sweep away every hurt and pain and replace it with ease and comfort.
If you put your faith in God doing what you want Him to do, your faith will fail.
I've been in pain and despair and hurt. I've cried out to God to intervene, and He hasn't. And many of you have far more reason to cry out and far more reason to despair when only silence returns.
Jesus warned "In this world, you will have trouble"
But praise God this isn't the end of the story!
"Take heart! For I have overcome the world."
"How can God be love yet send four billion people to a place, all 'coz they don't believe?"
This is a tough one. Hell is a hard pill to swallow. It's no wonder many pastors and churches gloss over it like the black sheep of the theological family.
My purpose here isn't to dig into the existence of hell but to dig into what this statement is really saying.
"How can God do something I don't understand?"
"How can God do something I disagree with?"
"How can God do something I wouldn't do?"
When you begin asking these questions your faith is on a fault line. One day soon the plates will shift, the earth will open, and you'll be swallowed whole. It's true, we'd all like it if God were just a little more like us. If He did things our way.
But we are not God.
His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. His plan for redemption may contain things we don't understand.
There is the God of the Bible, and a God we've conformed into our image. You have to decide who you believe in.
If you put your faith in your personal version of God, your faith will fail.
I'm certain that Marty's faith journey is much more intricate, complex and nuanced than his brief post reveals. Looking at his statements is not so much a judgment of him as a warning for me.
I see myself all over his remarks. This version of Christianity is constantly pulling me into its comforting clutches.
I want to believe in physical, audible preachers as my proxy for Jesus.
I want to believe God will always supernaturally intervene when I need Him most.
I want to believe God will do everything the way I think He should.
But the true God is so much better than any man. Any miracle. Any construct of my invention.
I choose to put my faith in Him. I hope you do too.