Looking toward the time when I’m doing ministry again, something that I know is coming even if I’m not totally sure what it looks like yet, (yes I know I can do ministry in the work place and have been attempting to share my faith.) I have really been making a conscious effort in my quiet time to note thoughts and ideas for teachings or messages, I have also been working at taking meaningful notes during Sunday mornings. It was so surreal to hear part of the discipleship course I wrote for one of my past churches being taught Sunday, especially when it’s been over 5 years since I last taught the course, I just kept nudging J and telling her can you believe I taught that, that’s one of mine…
Anyway, I have been thinking about the concept of doubt, especially when it comes to the calling I have and the person that is responsible for my personal reservation, when I eventually check out of this life and into the next. I wonder at people who get upset, especially Christian people, when a person offers even an inkling of doubt about God. It’s like once a person makes a commitment to Christ they are not allowed to ever have questions, or to wonder why or how, or even if. I think if most of us were honest, we would have to admit that there are times when we look at the whole thing, and then come up with questions. I know there are times that I question God, the Bible, the stories in the Bible. I look at historical documents that pre-date accepted Christian texts and find such similarities that I have to wonder who stole from who back in the pre-enlightened age of mortals.
Why is it so unforgivable to have questions, furthermore does the occasional question of the facts mean that the relationship is worthless, or that it never existed. Is questioning ones faith, salvation, God, and historical evidence for belief right up there with the unpardonable sin? This question has been in my mind off and on for a while now. When I look at the way Christians selectively follow the tenants of faith, be it in loving the person that they don’t like, praying for and respecting the authority in the land, treating people of different faiths as people, not as unspiritual rubbish, because I don’t find that to be the way that God wants things to work.
I think that doubt is a part of faith. I would go so far as to say it is essential to faith. Blind faith is at the least silly and at the most dangerous. Doubt is the pushing off point for faith, at least that’s what I think.
I think it’s important to note that some very important very influential founders of our faith doubted. Everyone has heard of Thomas, the disciple who had to touch Jesus had to feel the scars in his hands and feel the rip in his side from where the spear pierced the skin and drew blood and water.
What made me come to the concept of doubt being an integral part of faith didn’t come from Thomas though it came from someone else entirely.
When we read the story of Christ there are several key players. Mary and Joseph, the disciples, the religious leaders of the day, and of course John the Baptist.
Jesus tells his disciples when they ask if Elijah had returned that he had. John was that person that came to prepare the way. John himself tells his disciples that he had to become less and Jesus had to become more. John told Jesus he didn’t need to be baptizing him. John had a clear picture of who Jesus was when he said that he wasn’t worthy to latch his sandals…and yet.
Luke 7:19-22 (MSG)
19 He sent two of them to the Master to ask the question, “Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?”
20 The men showed up before Jesus and said, “John the Baptizer sent us to ask you, ‘Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?’ ”
21 In the next two or three hours Jesus healed many from diseases, distress, and evil spirits. To many of the blind he gave the gift of sight.
22 Then he gave his answer: “Go back and tell John what you have just seen and heard: The blind see, The lame walk, Lepers are cleansed, The deaf hear, The dead are raised, The wretched of the earth have God’s salvation hospitality extended to them.
Even though John knew who Jesus was, he still had questions, he still wondered, there was a hint of doubt. The difference between what John did and what many of us do is not that hard to find. When John had doubts he didn’t let them fester, he didn’t go and ask people who he knew would tell him what he wanted to hear, or people that he knew had doubts. He went strait to the source. When John needed to have his doubts eased he asked The Master to ease them.
The best part is Jesus did that, He didn’t get angry at John and say to the men John sent tell John he needs to have a little faith, He didn’t yell at John or send a message of condemnation. Far from it. He showed the men sent who he was and told them to report back to John all that they had seen. Jesus doesn’t stop there though. He goes on in the text to talk about John in a positive light. To lift John’s faith up as an example to the people around him.
Doubt is not the problem, it’s what we do with the doubt that’s the problem. Let it seep deep into our bones, fail to ask the questions, or press into God and His word, look for other people who will validate our doubt, those are the times that we fall, those are the times that doubt becomes a problem because those are the times that we take our eyes off the one we say we have our faith in. Those are the times that we stray.
See you around the blog…