Posted in coaching

deconstructing faith

Following Jesus has never been easy. I’m sure we all have some questions we’ll want to ask Jesus when we see him face-to-face!

For a growing number of young Christians, deconstruction has become vogue (mainly on social media). By “deconstruction” they basically mean: “the process of critically reexamining one’s beliefs to discover a more authentic faith.”

This process is nothing new. Scripture calls deconstruction “doubt.”

How does Jesus respond to doubters? Peter was repeatedly prone to doubt; but when he was literally sinking in doubt, Jesus “reached out his hand and caught him” (Matt 14:31). Then there’s doubting Thomas, of course. Did Jesus rebuke him? No, he asked Thomas to come close and touch him (John 20:24-29).

Look at the most common reasons people give for deconstructing their faith. What do you notice?

  • Experiencing personal trauma
  • Disappointment with church
  • Frustration with theological contradictions and trite answers
  • Annoyance with hypocrisy among Christians
  • Chastisement from asking questions and doubting
  • Church burnout (especially among pastors)

Some are having a crisis of faith. Some are hurt or disillusioned. Some are crying out for a safe place to wrestle and reflect. Some are simply drained.

How can we help? A good place to start is to buy them coffee and talk with them about their concept of faith.

For many Christians, “faith” is primarily a supra-rational feeling. Of course, emotions are valid cries of the soul; but when “faith” is driven by emotions, it is vulnerable to every change in circumstance. Living in a broken world requires a faith that is a “sure and steadfast anchor” for the soul (Heb 6:19-20).

For others, “faith” is primarily propositional statements. Of course, “sound doctrine” is essential (1 Tim 4:6; Titus 1:9; 2:1, 10); but when “faith” is mere information, it is vulnerable to being all “head” and no heart. Living in a broken world requires a faith that transforms from the inside out.

I find it interesting that Jesus just says, “Have faith in God (Mark 11:22). Seems so simple and yet so profound. Have faith in God himself. Jesus said that such faith is like building your house on the rock. When the rain falls and the floods come and the wind blows and beats on your house, it doesn’t fall “because it’s founded on the rock” (Matt 7:24:25). God-based faith is rock-solid because it’s centered on Christ, the rock of our salvation.

If you’re going to deconstruct your faith, “Start with the real historical earthly Jesus,” says NT Wright, “and your God will come running down the road to meet you, deeply attractive … deeply challenging in his transforming embrace.” Wright goes on to say, “My proposal is not that we understand what the word ‘god’ means and manage somehow to fit Jesus into that. Instead, I suggest that we think historically about a young Jew, possessed of a desperately risky, indeed apparently crazy, vocation, riding into Jerusalem in tears, denouncing the Temple, and dying on a Roman cross—and that we somehow allow our meaning for the word ‘god’ to be recentered around that point.”

Always remember, Jesus is “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:1-2). He isn’t done building his church (Matt 16:18)!

Posted in coaching

InstaSnapTok theology

Insta-Snap-Tok theology. Teenagers love it! If you do the math, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok add up to a whopping 88% of teenage social media use. Apparently, old people are still on Twitter and Facebook.

So, who manages these popular platforms? Meta/Facebook owns Instagram. Snapchat is owned by its creators, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company accused of sharing its data collection with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Let’s examine them.

Out of Instagram’s one billion monthly active users, 95 million photos are uploaded every day. Instagram is all about pictures—well actually, it’s all about transforming phone snapshots into professional looking ones. Pick a filter and tweak the color balance, and poof! Remove those ugly eye bags and wrinkles and reshape yourself into a thinner, more beautiful you. No wonder depression, appearance anxiety, and body dissatisfaction are all associated with Instagram use.

TikTok also has one billion monthly active users. On average, kids between 4-15 years old watch catchy lip-sync and dance videos for an hour and a half each day. But just so you’re aware, TikTok is known for its crude content and profanity. No one can use TikTok without being exposed to scantily clad bodies shaking their booty.

Only a half a million people send disappearing messages and photos on Snapchat’s camera each month. Where do all the posts go? Is anything truly deleted? Nevertheless, Snapchat offers several fun games, like Bitmoji Party. And best of all, you can keep track of who you talk to the most.

What is Insta-Snap-Tok theology

Instagram’s theology aims “to capture and share the world’s moments” so that one billion people will “feel closer to anyone they care about.” Think about that. If Jesus posted on Instagram (go with me here), he would have a purpose: to show the world a complete picture of his Father (cf. John 1:18; 17:25-26). Perhaps a closeup of his mom at the wedding reception or a pic of the little boy who gave up his lunch box would suffice. Let us share life’s moments in a way that capture God’s heart, so people feel closer to the Lord.

Snapchat’s theology empowers “people to express themselves, live in the moment, and have fun together” for ten seconds and then it disappears. Think about that. If Jesus used Snapchat (go with me here), he would likely tell parables about the kingdom of God so that people could flourish—not for ten seconds, but all day, every day, now and forevermore (cf. Matt 13:11-12, 16). Let us encourage people to see God’s face in their stories.

TikTok’s theology is simple: “inspire creativity and bring joy.” Videos that go viral are usually funny or involve a remarkable skill. But TikTok also has a dark underbelly. Think about that. If Jesus used TikTok (go with me here), he would be the light in the darkness so that people would experience the joy of “the light of life” (John 8:12; Ps 97:11). Let us be a light that inspires creativity and joy in a world of digital darkness.

You may say, “I’m too old to keep up with all this fancy technology.” Well, you’re never too old to have conversations about digital media theology with your children and grandchildren. They’d probably love that!