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Summary: This message looks at five things that cause people to become disillusioned with God. Part 3 of a series inspired by Philip Yancey’s book "Disappointment with God."

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Is God real? Does He care? Is He even there? Is He there for me? All questions sincere people ask all the time. Why? Because they’ve experienced heartache. They’ve been disappointed. They’ve been disillusioned.

What do I mean when I say disillusioned? I’m talking about you having certain negative realities discourage you, bring you down, and disenchant you with Christianity. I’m talking about you being turned off of God and being disappointed with Him due to other factors happening in your life.

What I want this morning is look at five different things that can cause this to happen. Things that can cause you to wonder if God’s there for you, things that can make you disillusioned about God, the church, and Christianity.

Okay? Let’s get started. What are some things that cause people to become disillusioned? What are some things that make people question God and give up on Him?

What Causes People to Doubt God?

1. Hypocritical Christians

It was probably about 18 years ago that I attended a Christian Athlete Hockey Camp. And it was really a lot of fun. They had players from the NHL there helping us to develop our hockey skills. Players like Jean Proniveau, Dwight Schoefield (who used to be a tough guy with the St. Louis Blues) and Mark Osborne, who played with the Leafs in the mid to late 90’s. And the thing about this camp was that it was Christian, and we would get together every evening for a service where we’d sing a bit and hear one of the professional hockey players talk about the importance of God in their lives.

But you know, I can’t remember anything any of them said. In fact, I remember very little about the camp... except for two little songs. One of them I learned at the back of the bus on the way to the rink. It’s not exactly politically correct, but this was what it said...

I know a girl named Sally Brown,

Weighs 390 pounds.

One day Sally went for a stroll,

Got hit by a truck and started to roll.

Sally got up and looked around,

Fainted right there and fell back down.

Obviously that song has had a lot of spiritual meaning for me over the years. And it stirs my heart anytime I think of it.

The other song is one that some of you may have learned someplace else, but I learned it at this camp:

I don’t want to be a goat, hope.

I don’t want to be a goat, nope.

Cause a goat ain’t got no hope, nope.

I don’t want to be a goat, nope.

And there were a bunch of verses to it but one that sticks out is:

I don’t want to be a hypocrite.

I don’t want to be a hypocrite.

Always saying, never doing it.

I don’t want to be a hypocrite.

It’s amazing how easily one hypocritical person can completely turn someone off. And the sad fact is that there are a lot of hypocrites around. People who claim to believe in God and hold to Christian values but who live a lifestyle that doesn’t honour God and who treat other people with contempt, who don’t live like they say the do, and these people really embarrass the Church. They embarrass me.

And it’s a terrible thing when people look to these hypocrites as the example of what it means to be a Christian. But the Church should not be judged based on their actions, and God should not be judged based on their actions. Especially since God in no way condones a hypocritical lifestyle. In fact, Jesus often rebuked people for that very reason. What does the Bible say about hypocrisy?

1 Peter 2:1 (NLT)

So get rid of all malicious behavior and deceit. Don’t just pretend to be good! Be done with hypocrisy and jealousy and backstabbing.

Obviously, God does not approve of hypocrisy. It’s something He hates.

I believe it was Gandhi who said that he had often thought of following Jesus, and possibly would have, had it not been for Christians. He had met enough of them that they turned him off. And it’s really too bad that there were hypocrites who had infiltrated the Church, and it’s too bad that Gandhi allowed people who weren’t adequate representatives of what Christianity’s all about to make up his mind for him.

2. Previous Failure

Sometimes it’s not so much that people are turned off from God as it is that they feel God could never love them. They just feel like they’re not good enough.

When I was growing up I took piano lessons. But there was one girl who was actually a year younger than me, who was one of the best young piano players in the city of Fredericton. And it just so happened that we attended the same church. And I fell into the trap of comparing myself with her, and I just didn’t measure up. And I knew it. Compared to her I felt like a failure. So I wasn’t motivated to practice, I shied away from playing in public, and for a while my skills just weren’t developed. Now I eventually got over that, and today I can play in our services knowing that there are probably other people here that can play much better than me. That doesn’t phase me anymore. But for a while, I felt like a failure and it almost made me give up.

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