Josh is regular at Headstart, has written many a summary and is back at it again for us as he shares what he learnt at Unspoken: I feel like a fraud - overcoming everyday Christian doubts. Working in IT, Josh commutes from Lane Cove every Monday and his attendance is rarely in doubt. Curious as to what he learnt - read on below!
Night in a Tweet: Doubt isn’t the Death Star. Your identity isn’t in doubt. It’s in Jesus through Justification by faith alone. So take it 1 step at a time.
What's the deal with doubt? We’ve all had those times where we’ve felt like the world isn’t going the way it should. Something comes up in our lives, and we just don’t know what to do with it. We come up with all of these questions. “is it true anymore?” “Will the suffering end?” “Is my faith genuine?” And as Christians, we hate talking about it.
Doubt. For some it’s like the Christian’s Kryptonite, the faithful’s Bogeymen, the evangelist’s Death Star. When it rises in our lives, it feels that we fall under it. But is this the only way in which we can think about the topic? Is there a better way to think about doubt?
Dealing with Doubt: The first step in understanding doubt is to be able to define it.
When we encounter doubt, the main trigger is when we encounter a contradiction in our lives, between what we believe, and what is present before us. Doubt is the feeling of uncertainty that we feel because of life's contradiction.
The next step is to see where doubt can be found in the Bible. And one of the best places is in the Psalms. Psalm 74 is all about Israelites crying out to God as you see the destruction from the enemy in the city walls. And their cry captures the contradiction: our God preserves justice and yet the evil still succeed and flourish! Who hasn't felt that in their life?
In fact, what we saw is doubts are more fundamentally wrapped up in what is called “the now and the not yet.” It is the age where doubts can rise because it is the age of contradictions. For example, we currently live in the present age, where we know that it’s been tainted by sin. But we also know that Christians are made for the age to come, where evil doesn’t have its hold. Sin is a struggle but not our master. Christians live on earth but live in heaven - they hold dual citizenship to both this age and the age to come. Feel the contradiction?
Mark likened this period to how the wedding has happened, but the reception won’t start for another 6 hours…because the bridal party hasn’t arrived from their photo shoot! You're conflicted along with all the other invitees finding something else (or many things) to pass the time! I found this funny, because I’ve gone through this myself! (check out what we did to kill time - who would've thought shadow puppets with plastic dinosaurs could pass time so quickly!)
I was left thinking about three things…
- Doubt in the Bible is a spectrum. It’s not as black and white as you think.
I grew up in a church that said “There isn’t anything wrong about doubt. It’s what you do with it that matters.” Although I still agree with this statement, I often thought that meant it was ok to be in doubt for some time, but then return back to a state of faith. It was one or the other to me. However, it’s probably more like a spectrum: from curiosity, to questioning, to unbelief.
We see this spectrum in different places in the Bible. James rebukes though who doubt, describing them as “like a wave sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” But this is because they are “double-minded.” (James 1:6-8) Now compare that to Luke, when the risen Jesus appears in front of the disciples, although he can see their doubts, it’s because they are overwhelmed by joy that the impossible has just happened. (Luke 24:36-41)
- As a Christian, your identity isn’t in doubt. It’s in Jesus through Justification by faith alone.
It’s such an important reminder that in a world full of doubt, that our identity isn’t in doubt. We’ve been saved and justified, entered into a new family of believers, not by anything we can do, but only though faith. Faith alone. We aren't saved by being able to answer all our questions, or the maturity of our faith. The absence of doubt doesn't make me Christian. Faith alone.
- Don’t try to overcome doubt, but instead walk with God, one step at a time.
We think that doubt is something that we need to overcome, but it’s more like our walk with our Lord, and to walk with others. Jude calls us to act in this way.
“But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
Be merciful to those who doubt…” (Jude 20-23)