By: Jason Kline | July 10, 2017
This is an article that does not want to be written. A war is being waged within me; my soul and every part of me is fighting against writing. Deep down I ask, “What is the point of writing? You’re not a good writer and nobody really cares what you have to say. You should just hang it up lead a quiet, peaceful and secluded life.” Voices in my mind (like those in Saturday morning cartoons with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other persuading the character) are calling me “stupid,” “inadequate,” “unworthy,” “unqualified,” and so much more. Another part of me (the still calm voice) is saying, “And, for that reason, write!” It is taking everything in me to push through and write anyways, realizing that what is taking place is a battle in my mind; a battle unlike anything in this physical world, but a battle between powers and principalities not of this world. This type of battle can only be fought through spiritual disciplines by the power and grace of God.
Inner Battle of Spiritual Bankruptcy
This is the purpose of my writing to you, apologists – God’s front-men and gate keepers. We live in a nasty world; a world filled with pain, suffering and evil. Ministry, then, of any kind, affords ministers the risk of running spiritually bankruptcy/burnout through constant spiritual warfare and ministering to those crying out for help. But, who are we to think we can wage war on spiritual matters by our own merit and effort? For, “apart from Christ, we can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Inner Battle of Ambition
Apologists have a natural love for knowledge and an unquenchable thirst for truth. It is who we are and who God designed (and called) us to be, and for good reason. Every apologist I know has great ambition and hunger inside of them, driving them forward, with a passionate conviction. This is a noble calling and I am all for it. What I do want to do is ask you to pause for a moment and breathe. I caution the apologist at this point. Ambition, though useful, can be dangerous when left to its own devices rather than done in the spirit. I write if only to help just one. I write to encourage the apologist to learn from my mistakes.
Inner Battle of Spiritual Nourishment
Years ago I set out on a highly ambitious quest for truth and a renewing of my mind. What I failed to do was nurture the entirety of my soul through the spiritual disciplines of prayer and Sabbath. The consequences were devastating to the point I nearly lost everything important to me; my family and my relationship with the Lord. My ambition turned into obsession and from there, borderline idolatry. I was left burnout and spiritually bankrupt. I frantically purchased every book on theology and apologetics I could find. I diligently set out to master the subject and rise to notoriety, which, I see is an entirely unreasonable and narcissistic expectation.
Inner Battle of Neglect
Theology and Apologetics is such a vast subject that it is nearly impossible to accomplish exhaustive knowledge, unless, of course, you are God. I remember running into theological issues on every corner that were simply so complex that no matter which direction I turned, I found another issue. Facing these issues played like a broken record in my head, going over and over the topic and frantically searching for solutions. One search led me to another. The deeper I found myself, the darker the hole around me. The problems continued to pile as my anxiety increased. I was beyond frustrated and even found myself drifting into isolation from both God and man through the plight of skepticism and confusion. I felt as though I made no ground, ending up where I left off, only, now knowing the richness and the depths of a subject that cannot be mastered nor every issue offering a solution. Such is the vastness of God. His essence knows no bounds. For this is what we face when pursuing an infinite God. The Apostle Paul rightly exhorts, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or, who has become his counselor? (Romans 11:33-35a). The only ones who suffered were my beautiful wife and children whom I neglected; though present, emotionally and mentally distant in the far-off land of theology.
I remember feeling guilt and shame, piled on by anger and frustration, blaming anyone and everyone who prevented my studies. I remember feeling so lost and alone, in deep grief and agony. Only pushing me into more isolation, it seemed that the more knowledge I gained, the more I realized how ignorant the world, the church (and people in general) really are about their faith. It was like my eyes were opened to how radically depraved we humans really are.
My heart wept and then grew bitter, especially toward those who hindered me (How arrogant and shameful). My journey for truth and to lead others to it was actually pushing people away and, like a stumbling block, complicating their faith, in ways that I do not see why anyone would want to love the Jesus I come to know.
Inner Battle of Anxiety
Theology and apologetics was driving me insane and became a millstone around my neck. Everyone I loved no longer wanted to be around me, including my wife and children. My frustration increased my irritability and therefore negatively effecting everyone in my circle. I wanted answers at any cost! But, my journey only left me spiritually bankrupt. However, none of this was because of theology and apologetics. It was me…all me and my lack of building upon these truths through the solid foundation of spiritual discipline.
I remember reading articles written by other apologists who experienced similar situations. I would read them and chuckle, believing “This will never happen to me.” Well, it did. Looking back, I see that God was using those articles as road signs cautioning me to heed their words and learn from their mistakes. My prayer is that my article will act in similar fashion. If this reminds you of your current situation take joy in knowing there is a cure. Seek truth, renew your soul by communing with God and strike a balance. Carve out time to spend with Him through his guided principles of spiritual discipline and it will be well with your soul.
Catch more from Jason Kline on this issue in the forthcoming weeks.
About the Author:
Jason Kline is a resident chaplain for Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care of Southwest Virginia. Jason graduated with a Master of Divinity from Liberty University. Jason also received his Bachelor of Science in Business and Religion from Liberty University. Jason also received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Jason is a full member of the International Society of Christian Apologetics and the Christian Apologetics Alliance. Jason served his country by proudly serving in the United States Air Force.
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