Ever felt disoriented in your faith? Ever felt the need to broadcast your raw doubts and emotions to the world via social media?
In early August, Hillsong worship leader and songwriter, Marty Sampson, posted a now widely-read Instagram post (now removed) announcing the apparent loss of his Christian faith. He identifies at least half a dozen reasons for his doubts, with a recurring theme seeming to be that the church (at least the church in which he finds himself) has not allowed space to ask the tough questions.
Since Sampson’s very public confession, John Cooper, lead singer for the Christian band, Skillet, published a Facebook post where he expressed his disappointment in Sampson and other Christian leaders venting publicly on social media, in particular about their abandonment (or almost abandonment) of the Christian faith. Sampson has since fired back with a rejoinder to Cooper.
Now, Gen Xers like myself might be tempted to simply roll our eyes at this public joust between celebrity Christians debating how influencers should use their influence. But if we resist this temptation, not only will we avoid possible eye strain, we’ll be able to focus and reflect on some important and very relevant issues here.
When it comes to the matter of spiritual disorientation. Many, if not most, Christians at some point experience some measure of doubt or confusion about their faith. So, while we might have some opinions about the appropriate use of social media for venting raw emotions (especially for Christian celebrities), it’s not the case that Christians should ignore our emotions or questions that might unsettle us.
Scripture Talk on Ps 73
The above is simply a preamble to give context to a teaching session in which I addressed the issue of spiritual disorientation, looking at Psalm 73. This Psalm was composed by Asaph, Israel’s worship leader when Solomon was king. It reveals Asaph’s own struggle with doubts about God’s goodness. He wonders whether remaining faithful to God is really worth it, or even realistic, considering the prevalence of injustice in the world. Asaph reminds us that sometimes we’ll feel that reality doesn’t match what we’d expect if a good God was really in charge.
This talk was given at King St. Community Church’s Young Adult group, where I’m currently serving as interim leader. I’d already planned to speak on Ps 73 prior to Marty Sampson’s Instagram post, but having a widely-known worship leader publicize (perhaps prematurely) his own Asaph moment, really helped highlight the relevance of this raw but encouraging Psalm. The focus is the way habitual corporate, God-centred worship can help serve as a point of reference in reorienting believers in their faith.
So, please give this a listen. I’d appreciate your feedback, and some reflection questions are below.
Questions for Reflection
- What questions or observations might cause you to become disoriented in your Christian faith?
- What’s your reaction to some Christian leaders announcing their faith struggles (feelings, response, etc.)?
- To what extent is corporate worship (gathering with other Christians to focus on God) important for your spiritual life? Why?
- What do you think of the idea that worship needs to be God-centred?