A name that, in previous times, when one went to google and searched this name, books like I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Humble Orthodoxy, Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why it Matters, would come up on your screen.
The church he pastored would emerge next on the list — a gospel-centered church that served thousands of people.
However, if you did an internet search of Josh Harris right now, you’d find some new results.
A few weeks ago news broke that he is “not a Christian.” This announcement from Harris came shortly after announcing that he and his wife Shannon would be ending their marriage after 20 years, but would, “remain friends” in order to raise their three children.
This news shocked and saddened many people.
I never have read any of Josh Harris’s books. I read Do Hard Things by his two younger brothers Brett and Alex Harris, but as for my experiences with Josh’s ministries, I have little to offer.
I was never a fan of I Kissed Dating Goodbye because I thought (and still do think) that it provided a narrow view of romance as well as aggressively leaned toward legalism when approaching romantic relationships.
None of this matters in the light of these current events, however. Josh Harris himself, long before his testimony of “non-Christianity”, stated that he regretted much of the content from his first book and ceased publishing by 2010.
The question remains, how does someone go from writing one of the most influential books on Christian romance in the 1990’s, to, almost 30 years later, completely renouncing his beliefs in the same God he spent decades teaching about?
How did someone write so many books, that were grounded in the Bible, now walk away from everything that he claimed to believe?
Friend, I wish that I had a concrete answer. Wouldn’t it be nice and if falling away from the faith was just a pothole in the road of life that was carefully marked and simple to avoid?
The news of Joshua Harris came to me shortly after learning that several people who had positively influenced my own walk with Christ, have since renounced their faith.
I’m guessing that this has happened in your own life too. When you’ve been connected with the world church long enough and loved other Christians around you, chances are that there will be those who walk away from God, and leave you asking “what happened?”
We try to come up with nice, neat, packaged answers.
“This is the problem with the radical purity movement.” “This is the problem with mega churches.” “This is the problem with people who are too conservative.” “This is the problem with __________” (fill in the blank)
We aren’t defined by one part of our lives — whether our views are conservative, if we go to a large or small church, etc. — we are many, many small moments in cohesion that make us who we are.
I can tell you why this happened.
This happened because Joshua Harris is a sinner.
*cue the dramatic organ music*
Joshua Harris is a sinner and in his own sinful nature, all his life, he has been prone towards one thing: I want to do things my own way.
I know this because I too am a sinner.
*more dramatic organ music*
I am a sinner and in my own sinful nature, all my life, I have been prone towards one thing: I want to do things my own way.
Christianity is not a “one and done” situation. God is constantly refining us, constantly changing us, constantly humbling us, to be more and more in line with His own character.
When we start walking our own way, as soon as we start thinking “I don’t care what God/my Bible/my church says, I can figure this out on my own”, we are “de-evolving” back to our selfish, broken ways.
I think we forget that we were born broken. We don’t become sinners, we already are sinners. We’re born selfish, prideful, brash, angry, disobedient and broken. We don’t find ourselves through ourselves. We find ourselves when we turn to the one who breathed the breath of life into our bones and left His thumbprint on our being.
I’m listening to the stories of these people who have renounced their faith, and 1 Timothy 1:18-19 rings in my ears:
“Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.”
Fight the battle well. Hold on to faith. Hold on to good conscience. Others have rejected these things and as a result, have suffered shipwreck with regard to their faith.
Friends, we are not titans. None of us are immune to falling shipwreck in our faith. 1 Peter 5:8 warns, “Be alert and of sound mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Am I trying to intimidate you? No.
Am I trying to make you afraid of Satan? Certainly not.
Do I want you to be aware of the reality that we face as Christians, that there is an enemy who is thirsty for our souls? Absolutely.
I can’t give you a concrete answer as to how Josh Harris, and anyone else who “becomes a non-Christian”, reaches the point in their life where they decide God simply doesn’t exist or is no longer relevant to them. If you asked them, they probably couldn’t give you a concrete answer either.
However, I can give you a concrete answer as to how you maintain your faith:
Keep your relationship with Jesus.
Keep learning about Him. Keep exploring Him. Keep talking to Him. Keep reading His words. Keep spending time with others who love Him too.
I’ll leave you with this thought, which someone declared at a conference I recently attended:
In ten years, you will be somewhere.
Most likely, you cannot predict exactly where you will be.
However, the actions, decisions and thoughts that you take hold of right now, will be able to predict where you will be in ten years.
It is completely up to you whether you will be on a close walk with God or not in ten years time.