I don’t know Joshua Harris. I’ve never read his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye either, but I am sad that a man who claimed to be a follower of Christ and who was seen as a Christian thought-leader has now renounced the faith and fallen away.

Those at our men’s retreat in late July may remember that we discussed the “thorns” of this world, which are a result of the Fall, and how they can choke out the gospel before it truly penetrates our hearts. To think that these thorns have been quietly growing and surrounding Mr. Harris for all these years is a bit terrifying when I reflect on my own faith which can be so weak at times.

However, I’m struck by a comment from his Instagram announcement. While still extolling the virtues of a generic “repentance,” Harris characterized his “Christian” period as one that promoted a “fear-based approach to life.” There it is. Isn’t that one way to characterize the difference between the seed sown on good soil and choked out by thorns versus the seed that produces fruit (Matt. 13:7–8)? In other words, if our Christian faith is primarily rooted in fear, then Christ is not central to our faith—the world is.

How do we have hope and assurance when we see professing believers fall away, or said another way, when it’s possible to have thorns choke out our faith? We must remember that Jesus Christ has born the thorns for us and we are bound up in Him. Quite literally, Matthew 27:29 recounts the soldiers fashioning a crown of thorns and placing it on Jesus’ head. Should it surprise us that our loving God who enjoys giving us tangible symbols of his love offers this as another evidence of his redeeming work? These thorns which were a curse resulting from the Fall (Gen. 3:18) are placed on the head of our Savior as he accomplishes his eternal work of salvation.

Take comfort, brothers and sisters. Assurance is yours by recognizing that Jesus has purchased you with his blood, and there is no longer any cause for fear. It is from freedom, not fear, that fruit flourishes.

"My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul"
– Horatio G. Spafford

See you Sunday,
Jay Hollis