I have found over the years that we who put our hope in Christ actually do so for many different reasons, and some of those reasons, no matter how worthy they may be, can eventually lead to disappointment.
We may even wind up getting angry at God and walking away. I’ve experienced this disappointment myself and have seen it happen to others too many times.
It’s heartbreaking to see someone you love who was once so full of the Spirit and faithfully walking with God, lose their passion or even walk away from Him.
The culprit is usually disappointment.
How does this happen? Where is this disappointment lurking in our walk with Christ?
As I mentioned before, some of us came to Christ to escape something (hell, punishment, Great Tribulation, wrath…). It’s all about self-preservation. It seems like it’s more important to avoid a place (hell) and get to a place (heaven) than to be placed in a Person—Christ.
But what happens when the fear of hell is relieved, the rapture doesn’t happen, the blood moons prove to be yet another false portent of doom? What happens if Christ doesn’t return anytime soon?
Disappointment can come from putting our hope in good things, but not the best thing. Let me give you just a few of these possible pitfalls.
Bible believer. Every sincere Christian believes the Bible, but some of us are only about the Bible. It’s Sola Scriptura, baby! If God said it, we believe it! Our trinity is God the Father, Son and Holy Bible. We may even insist on a particular translation of the Bible. And if you disagree with our particular doctrinal view, you’re either a liberal, false teacher or a heretic. Like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, these people seem to love the Word of God more than the God of the Word.
But what if you find out there is no Bible translation that’s infallible, that there’s no way to know for certain what was added or lost from the original text? (There are no original manuscripts in existence. For my discussion on this, go here.) What if you can’t reconcile the seeming contradictions or errors that you find as you make an honest search of the Scriptures? What if someone is able to talk you out of trusting the Bible you believe in?
Faith believer. Faith is the key that accesses everything we have in Christ. But we risk turning God into a transactional God. If we will do our part, God has to do His part. It’s the theology of Job and his not-so-comforting friends. All bad things in the world are blamed on lack of faith or judgment on sinful people and places. If we tithe, say the right prayers, behave ourselves, then we prosper and nothing bad happens to us. This seems like we’re treating God like a lucky rabbit’s foot to keep us safe, or some spiritual investment portfolio to make us prosperous.
But what happens when the more we tithe, the more we pray, the more we bless others, the worse things get for us? What if while believing for more, we lose everything? What if after believing for our marriage for many years, our spouse walks out on us? Is God not real now? After all, He didn’t live up to His end of the bargain.
Grace believer. Lately, there’s a fresh wind of grace blowing on the body of Christ. We’re finding out that faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross is enough. We’re finally free from the shackles of a legalistic mixture of grace and law. But for some, doing whatever we want because of grace becomes more important than having a tender heart before the Lord in community with other believers.
But what happens when our self-indulgent version of freedom comes crashing down and we have a long trail of relational wreckage in our wake? Does that means this grace message is now false, so we go back to your previous performance-based Christianity, or worse, leave the faith altogether?
Supernatural believer. We Charismatics and Pentecostals are all about doing the Kingdom stuff—walking in supernatural miracles, healing, signs and wonders, deliverance, prophecy, dreams and visions and getting the anointing. For some, the focus seems to be more on the gifts than the Giver.
But what happens when you pray for healing and nothing happens? What if the person you really wanted to see healed dies? What if after years of going to conferences and following after signs and wonders and anointing, you realize they’re not leading you anywhere? What if the prophecy you’ve been holding on to doesn’t ever come to pass?
Hopefully, you’re noticing one common theme in all of these versions of Christianity. Even though most of them are good things, they are other things. It’s really not about Christ at all.
It’s really about us.
Let’s take the test
Here’s a quick test to show you where you’re at with all of this. You’re going to need to be brutally honest with yourself to get any benefit from this test. Here it is.
What if there was no hell, no future judgment, no consequences for sin, no rapture, no reliable Bible to trust, no rewards for faithful service, no miracles, no healing, no anointing to receive, no prophecies to fulfill, no faith formulas to protect you from harm or financial ruin…would you still passionately pursue Christ?
Would you still love Him and live for Him every day?
Do you think I’m being absurd? Maybe so. But Jesus basically gave a similar test to His followers that seemed pretty absurd to them (see John 6:26-63). He told them that unless they drank His blood and ate His flesh, they had no part in His life. Thousands walked away on that day…Hey, no miracles, no bread and fish…nothing in it for me…I’m out of here!
Then Jesus turned to His disciples and asked them, “Do you want to leave, too?” I like how the Amplified Bible records Simon Peter’s response (bold type added):
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You [alone] have the words of eternal life [you are our only hope]. (John 6:68 AMP)
Peter passed the test. Will you?
Let me be clear. I love the Bible and trust it. I’m all for going to heaven, escaping hell, having powerful faith, embracing pure grace, and walking in the supernatural power of God with signs and wonders. But they can all disappoint when your heart is not finding its rest in Christ Himself. And disappointment can shipwreck your faith.
There is a hope that never disappoints. It’s the only anchor to our soul that’s sure and steadfast—the love of Christ poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit living in us. This is where our life is found.
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom.5:5 NKJV)
“that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil… (Heb.6:18-19 NKJV)