I go to church every sunday and I’m a very active member at church. But for the past month, I’ve been feeling so apathetic towards christianity. I just want to live my own life and I feel so apathetic. I try praying, doing devotionals and i really WANT to know God and have passion for him but i am feeling really dry. I feel empty. I feel nothing.. Is this normal? Or a sign that I am not fit to be a christian?
My dear wonderful honest friend:
I think this is probably the question I get the most from every young Christian out there.
You are not alone in this. So please allow me the grace to set this straight.
1) Everyone goes through up-and-down seasons with God.
The Big Christian Secret is that everyone struggles with doubts, questions, confusion, and frustration. If this is your first time experiencing dryness, then please know that just because you don’t feel God doesn’t make you a bad Christian. It just makes you an honest one. Welcome to the dark valley, the dry season, the desert, the drought. Actually: welcome to the Christian life. There’s nothing wrong with you that isn’t wrong with everyone else.
2) It is impossible to sustain a super-passionate emotional high with God.
Not every day of a marriage will feel like the wedding. Not every day with God will feel like a super-juiced up revival-rockshow. Maybe someone in church told you, “You better love Jesus with your everything!” — but soon you’ll find out there is so much more than the emotional component of your faith. Our feelings do not determine the truth. Emotions are important, but never the engine.
3) However you feel, God still loves you.
Your amount of faith doesn’t change how God feels about you. I’m serious. Jesus welcomes all your crazy whiplash struggling. I’m a faith-weakling, and while I believe God does want us to have a robust vibrant relationship with Him, some of us are wired to grip God with the tiniest shred of belief. Two kinds of people went through the Red Sea: the victorious and the doubters. But both went through by the grace of God, because faith is based on Him and not on us. Certainly we pray for a bigger faith, but we don’t hold God: He holds us.
4) Don’t look back on how your faith “used to be.”
This is the dang worst thing you can do. To be blunt here: when our journey of faith begins, much of it is choked by immature misinformed hype. I’m not saying this to sound mean, but because it’s actually a phase we all have to purge. Those first “Holy Spirit chills” are most likely psychosomatic group-induced excitement, and youth group is mostly based on a social high that has nothing to do with God.
After that honeymoon phase ends — it always does — some church-people get disillusioned, detached, and disappointed. It’s why so many married couples end up divorced: because their criteria for marriage was stupid Hollywood-conditioned hormones. They try to reenact those earlier times when things were fun, fast, and foolish. But those who persevere know that faith gets replaced by a deeper, settled more meaningful intimacy with God. It will never look like how it used to be. And no relationship ever truly does. No one in the Bible ever tried to re-create their God-moments on the mountaintop, because those God-moments are monuments and not part of our daily marathon.
Some pastors will misquote Revelation 2:4 — “Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love.” But they forget to properly handle verse 5, which does NOT say, “So feel the things you did at first.” Instead, it says “Do the things you did at first.” It reminds me of a quote by Timothy Keller (inspired by C.S. Lewis) —
“If your definition of ‘love’ stresses affectionate feelings more than unselfish actions, you will cripple your ability to maintain and grow strong love relationships. On the other hand, if you stress the action of love over the feeling, you enhance and establish the feeling. That is one of the secrets of living life.”
Which leads me to:
5) It could be you haven’t taken on the crazy calling that God has for your life.
Most people I know who get un-passionate about Jesus are just bored. They’re tired of one-hour-Sunday Christianity and passively receiving information about the “three-steps-for-a-better-week.” But the second they want to go a little radical and actually follow God’s Word in the world, church-people say, “That’s legalism” or “Be realistic” or “You’re a Pharisee.” Except effort is not legalism — only legalism is legalism.
If you’re not in the self-giving sacrificial calling that God has placed on your life, then you probably believe all the right things but haven’t yet embarked on God’s adventure with your sleeves rolled up. And even if you get on that, I’m not saying you won’t ever get spiritually dry: but there will be a direction, a momentum, a vision forward that keeps you breaking through the dryness. Without that, your dry seasons will spin you out of orbit. But inside your calling, a dry season is only a small part of your entire journey, and you’ll know there’s a bigger picture.
Love you friend, and I will throw you a prayer.