I am a Christian who has been disillusioned and I am very grateful to God for it.
Disillusionment is a bit like having a bad tooth out. Not an experience we might hope for, often very painful for a time, but a great relief once it has all healed up again.
And I am relieved and grateful, rather than uptight and bitter. My relationship with God is better than it has ever been.
The important thing to remember about disillusionment is that though unpleasant, it is a good thing. An illusion is false; it is when something is not as it seems to be. The meaning comes from the word illude: to play a trick, to deceive, the deliberate act of making someone believe something that is not true. Now I don’t know about you, but having believed stuff that was not true, I am really glad that I found out about it in time.
I remember reading a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon some years ago. Calvin had seen an advert on a cereal packet for a hat that had a propeller attached to it. He was convinced that it would enable him to fly and, having sent off for it, he spent the next week or so in almost delirious anticipation that he would conquer gravity and soar around his neighbourhood. It turned out be a useless bit of cheap plastic that broke on the first day. He was heartbroken. Who was at fault? There was certainly some blame on the part of the cereal company, but alas, Calvin had let himself be taken in by all the hype.
Jesus thoroughly prepared His followers to cope with false advertising. He told them that He, and He alone, was the truth, and that the devil was a liar and a deceiver. When Paul wrote to the churches, he often warned them about the possibility of there actually being folk in churches who would lead others astray.
Have you ever been in a situation in a church where you have felt uneasy about something but didn’t say anything because you thought that others knew better, and quite frankly, it would have been embarrassing to make a fuss? I can trace some of my own difficulties back to such times. Instead of listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit in my own heart and checking it out in the bible, I gave way to fear of embarrassment and the stronger voice of others.
Over the coming months, though covering a wide range of things, I will come back to this theme of disillusionment a few times, because I have found many Christians struggling to find a way through it. The way out will always be through Jesus. There is no club to pay to join, no super church, no new movement, no secret society of the hidden way. However, it will involve coming back to the real Jesus, the one revealed in the bible, the Jesus who said ‘take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light’. This can be a helpful way of telling if things are not as they should be. If you are burdened, and weighed down with things too heavy to cope with, you have probably allowed yourself to be yoked to something or someone other than Jesus.
Nothing from the past has power over us if we take it to the cross of Jesus. We can abandon every illusion, even if precious because we invested much of our lives into it. Through the Holy Spirit, God will enable us to repent and change direction away from any wrong path we may have been walking on. Whatever the past and present, tomorrow is always God’s gift to us.
There is a path of freedom in Jesus, which many of us may never have believed possible. May God grant us the grace to receive and walk in it.