We are instructed to build each other up, and we know that building one another up is better for all involved, but we live in a culture that makes it much easier to tear down. It takes little effort to tear down our enemies, our friends, and even our own faith, where building up takes commitment and effort. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“… a time to tear down and a time to build” – Ecclesiastes 3:3
Tearing down is all the rage these days, as an example of a culture that has come to question the validity and veracity of anything and everything. Basic math has been called into question, with once universally acceptable concepts such as 2+2=4 now being labeled as a racist examples of the ‘white supremacist patriarchy’. National news organization state that there is “no consensus criteria for assigning sex at birth”. In such an environment, where basic common-sense facts are being put to question, it is not surprising that the usual attacks on faith are hitting closer to home, or that Christians young and old are questioning what it is that they truly believe. But why? Why is it that people who grew up in Church and know Scripture are walking away? Is it just a cool trend to “deconstruct” faith, or is there something deeper happening?
What Is it That We Have Built?
My children were raised in church, but more specifically they were raised in Christ, and understanding what it means to live out their faith. We taught them to study the Bible and live it out on their own. As kids, they loved going to church. Being at church with church friends and kind adults who cared for and loved them was probably their favorite thing. This is exactly what I wanted faith to be about for them and what I wanted it to be about for me. This was something that mattered and held value. And then I took a worship ministry position at another church, and the curtain was lifted a bit.
They now saw another side of things. They saw people chasing me down at the grocery store to complain about the lighting in the sanctuary, to complain we weren’t singing enough hymns, to complain about how I ran the choir, to complain that I was a bad hire for the church. Complain, complain, complain. Remember, this is all happening in front of my family.
One time my wife came to the church office to help me plan for Christmas activities, about which we were excited. It was here that a lady from the congregation came in with a handwritten speech she had prepared just for me: it detailed how I didn’t love the Lord, how I am probably not even saved, and how I don’t take ministry seriously. She did let me know that all was not lost, and that I could remedy all of this by singing her preferred hymns on Sunday, and having only piano accompaniment. This happened in front of my wife.
I learned that ‘church’ and ‘church people’ can be a beautiful thing for some, but downright dreadful for others, all depending on their own experience. I have had the benefit of seeing how a church actually works correctly and does the work of the gospel as given to us in Scripture. But if someone has only experienced the negative, the complaining, the fighting, the hypocrisy, then it is understandable that this is not something they would want in their life, and something they would want to tear down and examine.
What Is Deconstruction?
“… I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24
The idea of ‘deconstructing’ one’s faith has picked up steam in the last few years in our ever-questioning culture. Deconstruction is essentially the idea of systematically pulling apart one’s belief system bit by bit for examination. It is the concept of going through everything one has been taught and deciding if it is true or if it is just a made-up list of ‘dos and dont’s.’ Is Jesus real, or is he just another Santa Claus, created to keep people in line? It is not wrong to examine these things and grow deeper in the knowledge of what we do, or don’t, believe.
Many of us grew up in a church that separated young people from adults, spoon-fed us some character traits in lieu of theology, and left us Ill-equipped to face the world we lived in. It is no wonder that this environment has given so many of us more questions than answers. When we see Christianity as just another white, evangelical thing to do, no wonder it comes up short. It is not wrong to doubt – we see it happen throughout Scripture and end up in a stronger belief. The danger is not doubt itself, not questioning, but rather where we go to seek our answers, and being aware of what exactly it is we are deconstructing and why.
Is it a Sin to Test our Faith?
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. – 2 Corinthians 13:5-6
Paul encouraged the Corinthian church to examine themselves, but there is an important understanding as to what that means. This examination was not to decide if what they believe is real, but to decide if they were real about it. The truth of Christ was not in question, but rather their acceptance and embrace of that truth. The test was not to determine whether Jesus was real, whether the Gospel was real, but whether they as individuals were sincere in their belief and whether they saw fruit and evidence of the Holy Spirit within themselves.
Where Can We Go from Here?
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7
The answer is simple: we go back to Scripture and the basics of faith in Christ. Christianity is not what so many of us have made it to be: a list of rules, a way to dress, a building to go to, a political stance, the American way or a family tradition. If these are the things we are deconstructing, then we are right to do so! Christianity is the truth of God revealed in Scripture that the only cure for humanity and the only way to peace is in and through Him, and not anything we can try to do ourselves. We are sinful, and anything we try to concoct on our own outside of this truth is temporal and bound to fail.
We start by understanding one another, and building one another up. By making deconstruction constructive. We start by building one another up.
A person who shows love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as expressed in Galatians 5:22 is a rare find these days, and is exactly what will draw us and those around us back to the truth of who Jesus is and why belief in Him is the only way for these things to be a built-in part of who we are.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Gajus
Jason Soroski is a homeschool dad and member of the worship team at matthias lot church in St. Charles, MO. He spends his free time hanging out with his family, exploring new places, and writing about the experiences. Connect on Facebook or at JasonSoroski.net.