I’ve been listening to Annie F. Downs’ podcast called “That Sounds Fun”. If you haven’t ever tuned in, I would highly recommend it, although it’s not as light and airy as the title implies. Annie interviews Christian authors, musicians, ministry leaders and athletes currently making an impact for God’s kingdom. And sometimes the conversations get deep. Recently she spoke with two back to back guests about crisis’ of faith. This topic stirred my heart in light of a recent guest lecture I attended at church on Generation Z (kids born between 1999 and 2015 – like mine). All three resources had one theme in common – the lack of a safe place to take questions.
For those of us who came to a believing relationship with Christ at a young age, the decision might have been a no brainer. When presented with a scenario like, “Jesus loves you. Won’t you love Him too?” Of course. Why not? Then we grow up. And although the Bible’s teachings about Jesus remain the same, we awaken to the ever changing landscape of the world. There are many different flavors of people and we aren’t sure how they all fit in. We experience heartbreak. There’s dissension in our church. Someone we love and respect views the Bible differently than we do. Disease or death strikes a devastating blow, or our “’til death do us part” falls far short. When life looks so very different from the way we imagine it, our faith often takes a hit.
I have walked with a friend who traveled back to square one – examining EVERYTHING she believed and taking nothing for granted. I personally have experienced what I’ll call minor doubts – never questioning the existence of a loving God or even a Savior who gave His life for me – but becoming uneasy or unsure of other Biblical teachings and church doctrine. What do we do with this? I have heard faith compared to a brick wall. It stands strong and sturdy, but many believers are afraid that if one brick crumbles near the bottom, the whole thing will topple. So we shy away from testing the strength of the bricks. We don’t ask the questions because we are either afraid of the answers or afraid we won’t be able to find the answers. Or do we fear what others will say/think of our doubts?
When we don’t have anywhere to go with our questions or even suspect that our faith is not strong enough to endure them, we are closer than we may realize to abandoning it altogether. And I’m afraid that’s exactly what happens to many Christians who grow up and out into the world. They find it easier to walk away than to wrestle. Who wouldn’t?
But the truth is, Christianity has survived for more generations than we can count. And the Bible remains the most published and read book in the world for hundreds of years now. More importantly, our God withstands the scrutiny. When we are wrestling the thing out (studying, praying, seeking counsel), whether it be theological questions, or anger at God, or just flat confusion, we are in relationship with Him. That’s what He wants. Communion with us. Do you remember memorizing John 3:16? God sent Jesus – this whole thing – because He “so loved the world.” NIV
Testing our faith can make it stronger. Not only is it important for us to know that personally, but we need to be intentional about making sure our homes and our churches are safe places for people to have doubts. That’s how we build a strong community of faith. But as we struggle with issues and feelings we must remember that we are not God. Isaiah 55:8 NIV says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Some things we may not wrap our finite minds completely around. Although there is evidence to be found, sometimes our faith simply takes faith, which Hebrews 11:1 ESV defines as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” God promises, however, that when we meet Him face to face it heaven, it will all become clear. “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NIV