POSTED ON APRIL 28, 2010:
Questioning the Possible
Everybody has questions about God and faith, they're just not said aloud
Itís a Draw. In all honesty, we are actually continuing to be irrelevant to most non-Christians, and we are maintaining infant Christians who havenít learned to reconcile the discrepancies between real life and their faith. Both sides lose.
Don't say it. You can think it, but don't you dare say it. I'm not sure if it's more ironic or sad. Churches and Christians across the world are trying to help people discover Jesus, and yet we don't ever actually address the questions, doubts, uncertainties and suspicions we've all had at one time or another.
I was that kid growing up in church who always asked my Sunday school teachers those really difficult questions and rarely ever received an actual response. "You've just got to have faith and believe." Why can't I have faith and also wrestle with real questions?
Somewhere along the way we began to think that just because you are a follower of Christ; "poof" no more questions. There is like an undefined timeline that we have somehow come to accept:
AGNOSTIC ? SKEPTIC ? SEEKER ? BELIEVER.
Questions are supposedly acceptable during the first three phases, but once you are a believer, it's time to ditch anything that confronts your faith.
By holding to this, we've actually created insecure, unprepared and irrelevant Christians who can't engage in conversations with the rest of the world.
We're perfectly content sitting in our little Christian bubble completely disengaged from the actual issues. Like my Sunday school teacher, a lady who was good-hearted yet uninformed, we just want to slap on a little Jesus and sidestep the question.
The irony is that we think by sidestepping the question we are alleviating the pathways to doubt. In all honesty, we are actually continuing to be irrelevant to most non-Christians, and we are maintaining infant Christians who haven't learned to reconcile the discrepancies between real life and their faith. Both sides lose.
A couple of times every year, I always ask the people in our community of faith to lay their cards on the table. I mean, why not? We even give them the option of asking the really difficult questions absolutely anonymously if they choose. The questions that make you squirm in your seat a little bit. It's really not even about answering the questions; it's more about being honest with your doubts and wrestling with issues of faith and life in open dialogue.
After doing this for several years, you see some consistency with the questions: How can a God of love allow such widespread and catastrophic disasters such as ... ? Why did my sister die in a car wreck, and the other guy had no more than a scratch when he was the one who was drunk? How am I supposed to believe in a God I can't see and feel? Why believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, wasn't it written by a bunch of ordinary men a long time ago? I watched a documentary about the resurrection of Christ, what evidence do we actually have for this? And on and on. You get the point.
Valid questions. Questions that make us scratch our head, but questions that I believe are absolutely essential to being a mature follower of Jesus Christ. That's right; questions can actually lead to belief (or faith).
Here's my argument: I believe that the road to committed belief must start with doubts and questions. If a believer has never wrestled with these issues then they have never truly reconciled the reality of the world we live in and our faith as followers of Jesus Christ.
There is a great story about a man and his son found in Mark 9. The man brought his son who was possessed by a Spirit to the disciples of Jesus, but they couldn't do anything about it. Jesus shows up, and the man looks at Jesus and says, "If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us?" (v. 22) The keyword there is "if." Later, the man again tells Jesus, "I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!"
I've been a follower of Jesus Christ for a few decades now and I can relate with the man. In other words, he is saying, "There is a part of me that has faith, but there are also still these huge pockets of doubt. Help me!"
So many of us want to believe, but these doubts and questions sit like roadblocks in front of our relationship with Christ keeping us from ever moving forward.
This article is not about reconciling the deepest questions about life. That's not the point nor do I necessarily feel qualified to lead that discussion. The reality is that every person (Christian or non-Christian) will eventually and inevitably hit a fork in the road during their lifetime that will shake them at their core.
Something will happen that is unfair and unexplainable. Something will happen that just doesn't make sense. When you hit that fork in the road, the options are either faith or unbelief.
Either I believe that a God of love and purpose is present in the mess and the uncertainties, or I rationalize that the circumstances are void of the God we read about in Scripture.
It's a tale of two people. Both of them have lost someone very dear to them. The first individual looks at the circumstances, looks at God and looks at the questions that stand before them, and they begin to walk down the road of unbelief. They just can't reconcile the issues. God seems to be somewhat disengaged from life or the entire situation.
The second individual similarly looks at the tragedy, looks at God, and looks at the questions around them. This individual, however, puts their hands in the air and is content with the unknown. There might be anger, doubts and fears, but their faith was bigger than the circumstances. They might not have the answers or certainties, but a mature follower of Jesus Christ has learned to put their faith in a God who is still right in the middle of the tragedy and has promised eternal life for those who will persevere and believe.
The questions are real. The doubts are inevitable. The path is either faith or unbelief. It's not easy, but it is simple. The mature disciples of Jesus have faced the adversity, asked the questions, been real with their doubts, and have chosen the road of belief.
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