I love the grace, forgiveness, and love that Jesus reveals in the New Testament, but the only Christians I know promote judgment, fear, and shame.
I enjoy being around people who are kind, generous, and caring, but the only Christians I see picket funerals, preach hate from the pulpit, and authoritatively delegate people to an eternity of torment in hell.
I get along great with my co-workers, but I’m an outcast at my church.
The best conversations I have happen everywhere except church — I’m not allowed to ask any questions there.
I learn new things all the time, but every sermon I hear always sounds the same: old-fashioned and irrelevant. I’m starting to doubt everything I once believed in.
I’m tired of my faith being defined by the political views of my pastor.
My Christian friends betrayed me — I feel isolated and alone. Nobody within my faith community understands me.
I feel like I have to jump through a million hoops in order to be “saved.” I’m constantly afraid.
I’m sick of famous Christians saying stupid things! I feel like I can no longer relate to Christianity!
Sentiments of frustration are growing among many followers of Jesus who admire Christ but despise certain things associated with him.
They look at the New Testament and are attracted to Jesus’s selfless acts of generosity, service, and love, but don’t see the same spirit in today’s “Christian” institutions, churches, communities, and faith leaders.
Modern faith is often a complex minefield of theologies, doctrines, practices, and expectations, where individuals carefully walk on eggshells to avoid a litany of “sins” and “heresies” that will inevitably attract the wrath from religious friends, strangers, and authorities.
Christians are tired of having Jesus defined and judged by the political views, denominational affiliations, legalistic theological beliefs, strict traditions, social networks, and attitudes of others. They’re sick of the hypocrisy, judgment, infighting, fear, and shame associated with institutionalized “Christianity.”
It doesn’t take much to get burned out on the Christian faith when churches are filled with stern rules, authoritarian doctrines, and manipulative propaganda — promoting a wide variety of agendas that have nothing to do with Jesus.
Surprisingly, many people aren’t abandoning God. They’re simply disassociating themselves with things that falsely represent him.
This is what many churches get wrong: They mistakenly believe that people who stop attending services have given up on God. They haven’t.
For those facing discontentment, take heart and realize that you’re not alone. Nearly all believers eventually face trials related to this at some point in their lives. Try not to become cynical.
Instead, put your hope in Christ, be patient with others, offer forgiveness, communicate openly, and don’t withhold your suffering. Ask for help!
Be a lifeline to those who are going through similar struggles. As frustrating as Christian culture can be, don’t withdraw from community. Surround yourself with supportive believers who can empathize, pray, comfort, and uplift you — and do the same for them.
As the New Year begins, if you’re sick of “Christianity” and ready to abandon it altogether, try giving Jesus one more shot. Don’t mistake God for the things that falsely representhim. He knows your pain and desires happiness and restoration. He loves you.
Stephen Mattson has contributed for Relevant Magazine and the Burnside Writer's Collective, and studied Youth Ministry at the Moody Bible Institute. He is now on staff at Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minn. Follow him on Twitter @mikta.