by Alex Reimen
If you’ve been listening to any episodes of Not Your Pastors Podcast then you know Jason and I have been through many trials and triumphs in the church world. Being able to witness people getting saved, disciples being made, and the crazy stuff that can only be explained by the fact that God is just good. But in the midst of all of those moments where tears of joy stream down your face, tears of sorrow will sometimes mix with them. They are the tears that exist because there is a brokenness that is not yet redeemed in this world. A brokenness that puts the prayer on your lips “God come back, restore us, and wipe away all the tears of this world!”
Episode 6: “We Just Got Out of Prison” coming this Friday!
Maybe you find yourself in the same situation. You see the world through the lenses of Scripture yet nothing seems to be working like it should. People are still living in brokenness and it doesn’t seem to be getting better. The questions swirl around in your brain, is God real? Is this really all life has to offer? This is called doubt.
The problem with doubt especially in the Church world is we live under the illusion that when we give our life over to Christ that everything needs to be figured out. That all of life’s questions need answers immediately and heaven forbid if you don’t. There is no room for questioning your faith. If you do, the traditional “christian” response is “perhaps you lack faith” or even they question if your salvation is legitimate. If you are questioning, and someone in the family of God responds “well you probably lack faith”. You have full permission from Not Your Pastor’s Podcast to lovingly tell them to “SHUT UP”.
The quickest way to kill community and alienate our brothers and sisters in Christ is by telling them there is no justifiable reason for their doubt. When God designed humans, He designed them to live in community. When someone in the community is struggling, the duty and delight of those a part of the community need to walk alongside that member and encourage them.
Just know that if you are wrestling with doubt that it is normal.
That at times even the most “holy” people (including pastors) wrestle with the same feelings that you have. I can say after losing my job and watching my Church family disband, I doubted. The only thing that got me through it was reading Jesus’ response when a man that he called “the greatest man born among women” wrestled with doubt himself.
Matthew 11 starts off with a familiar name in the gospel story, John the Baptist. John though is not proclaiming the kingdom in the wilderness. He is sitting in a prison cell. All because he called out King Herod’s marital affairs as being wrong and not in accordance with God’s word. John sends his disciples to Jesus with one question that I’m sure was on his mind constantly when he sat in his cell. He asked, “are you the one who is to come or should we look for another?” Sounds like a moment of doubt doesn’t it? Here is why that statement is so profound and why when John asks the question that we should feel OK to wrestle with doubt.
John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin. He leaped in his mother’s womb when a pregnant Mary came to visit her sister Elizabeth. He proclaimed that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He was also the one who baptized Jesus and saw the heavens open up and the Holy Spirit descend on him. He heard God the father say “this is my son, in whom I am well pleased.” Here is a man that has seen the goodness of God in his life, and yet in his darkest hour he has a moment of doubt. It’s like he is saying “Jesus if you aren’t the Christ, if you are not the Messiah, then it is not worth it for me to rot in this prison cell.”
What if a fellow Christian said those things to you? What would your response be? Would you look down on your friend as if they lacked faith? Lets see how Jesus responded to the disciples of John the Baptist
Jesus didn’t call down fire from heaven and burn up John the Baptist and all of his disciples for their ridiculous questions. He didn’t even strike John with leprosy because of his doubtful thoughts. He compassionately says, “go tell John the blind see, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the lame walk, and the poor have good news preached to them.” At the hearing of this, John would automatically be reminded of all the Old Testament prophecies that talked about the Messiah coming and accomplishing great miracles. Sounds so simple right? It is, but think of comfort John must have felt knowing that the Messiah was here and now fulfilling the work He was called to do.
It is OK to doubt! There I said it! If the bible shows us a glimpse of the “greatest man born of women” doubting his faith. It is safe to say that we will experience moments of doubt. But what is the answer for it? How do we overcome the overwhelming feeling of doubt?
2. Remembering the works of the Christ
Even though John was in prison and had limited access to people, he somehow had contact with his disciples so he could send them to ask Jesus the question. He was able to tell them his doubts and they in turn were willing to seek answers for him while he wrestled with his doubts. The answers they found when they asked Jesus were directly rooted in the Scriptures. The Scriptures remind us of who our God is and what He has done for us. When we fall off the path we need a guide, a light to bring us back.
We need to have a community of believers in Christ that we feel safe around that will work with us when we wrestle with doubt. The fact that we believe in a guy that died on the cross, rose three days later, and was the Son of God is pretty crazy. I would be more surprised if a Christian never had a moment of doubt! The way we conquer over our doubts is first realizing that it is OK to do so. Then we need to feel comfortable and transparent enough to share our doubts with others.
With our doubts in the open and on the table, our community, friends, or family can remind us of what God has done in the past but also in this present time. Doubt is normal. Do not hide your doubts, they will only grow worse. The greatest opponent to conquering over our doubts is our fear to be real in a fake “everything is sunshine and rainbows” type of culture. So be real, share your doubts, and after that walk with those you feel safe around and who will help you find the answers.
Doubt isn’t sinful. It’s just a part of life.
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Our Next episode “We Just Got Out of Prison” comes out this Friday (9/30). We interviewed Pastors Doc Johnson and Chuck to discuss a real sacrificial prison ministry which is experiencing true revival.