Former Tenth Avenue North frontman Mike Donehey argues Christians need to think more carefully about how they respond when well-known believers abandon their faith.
Donehey, who is out with a new album, “Flourish,” said there are too many “unscriptural” reactions to those who are wrestling with the Bible and Christianity.
“Over the last couple years, a lot of sort of celebrity-status-like Christians have very publicly … denounced their faith and that [has] elicited really strong reactions from other people,” he recently told the “Edifi With Billy Hallowell” podcast. “The problem with taking a really strong, ardent response to people who are oscillating in their faith is that it’s completely unscriptural.”
Donehey pointed to Paul’s writings in 2 Timothy 2, a text calling Christians to “gentleness” when it comes to addressing those with whom they disagree. Hear what he had to say:
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful,” 2 Timothy 2:24 (NIV) reads, with verse 25 continuing, “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”
Donehey believes some Christians need to better assess how these verses should be put into practice.
“Your job is to be gentle,” he said. “God’s job is to change.”
Donehey also pointed to Jesus’ parable of the weeds in Matthew 13 to further illustrate and corroborate his point. In Christ’s story, a man plants good wheat seeds, but an enemy comes and plants weeds among the wheat. When the servants see the weeds, they go to the owner and tell him they want to pull the weeds, but he rebuffs them.
“No, because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn,” the owner says in Matthew 13:29-30 (NIV).
Donehey went on to offer a thought-provoking and reflective perspective on these Scriptures.
“To me, someone who’s oscillating, flickering, going back and forth, doesn’t know what they believe — it seems that Jesus, by this parable, is saying, ‘Here’s what you need to do: you need to treat everyone like they’re wheat until they believe it for themselves,'” he said. “‘Because … if you pull out the weeds you’re going to pull out all the wheat as well.'”
Taking this lesson to heart, Donehey admitted, can be tough.
“We don’t like to live in the tension of that. We don’t like to be called to love,” he said. “We would much rather be called to be right, because it’s easier and it demands nothing of us.”
The singer said he has been challenged in this area in his own life, especially considering that he loves to win an argument. But winning, he said, isn’t what will help lead others to the gospel.
“I just haven’t met anyone that went, ‘Oh, I was in the middle of this argument with somebody and they really just bashed me — I mean, they just crushed me and I saw the error of my doctrine and I came over [to Jesus],'” he said.
Donehey also spoke about COVID-19, his new music and plenty more. Listen to the entire episode.
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