Our Christian world we live in is not a make-believe world where there are no questions or no problems. It is a world we walk out every day by faith and yet doubt sits on our shoulder looking for any opening to pounce and shake us loose from our moorings. Our faith is being attacked on every level and it seems the only stance that is not acceptable in our culture is being a Christian. And the problem worsens because we feel so inept and feel our intellectual deficiencies are only highlighted by our weak response to these assaults...and doubt digs in a little deeper.
No wonder, at times, we falter as believers in the midst of this disbelieving age. The cultural situation we are facing today, with Christian beliefs and values being mocked and ridiculed, has provoked the serious problem of doubt for many Christians. I believe what has been most damaging is not the fact that Christians doubt, but the lack of honesty regarding our personal struggles with doubt. It is beneficial to have a healthy understanding of doubt because testing comes to us all.
“Faith,” as one author suggests, “is a radical reliance on God.” It's not faith in our faith, or faith in our friends, or faith in our culture, or faith even in our Bible knowledge; these are all substitutes and they will come up short if we rely on these during our times of struggle, and/or testing. “...what is doubt but faith suffering from mistreatment or malnutrition?” -Os Guinness
Doubt is not the opposite of faith, unbelief is. To believe is to be of one mind, to disbelieve is to be of another mind, and to doubt is to be in between...doubt then is a half way stage but if not checked can move on into unbelief. Doubt is not always fatal but it is always serious. Again, left unchecked or unchallenged doubt can neutralize our hold on faith and can be the prelude or origin of unbelief. Too many Christians find their life of faith a boring, joyless affair. Why? Because there has been a subtle mixing of Christian and non-Christian ideas that have slipped into our way of life. We find ourselves halfhearted because we're double-minded. We try to find the best in both worlds, but we ultimately find the best of neither and end up with the worst of each.
What and why we believe is not blind faith. Our faith is not blind, rather it sees the invisible. Take the story of Abraham and the conflict of the promised heir, Isaac, and God's new command to now go and sacrifice him. Abraham wasn't acting on blind faith, he was trusting in a God that he already knew. He couldn't see the outcome but he trusted in the One who knew the outcome…"he knew why he trusted God who knew why.”
“Unless each of us wrestles with the truth of our own faith, we will end up with opinions rather than convictions. No conviction is truly our own unless we are prepared to hold it even if the rest of the world is against it.”
Martin Luther, defending himself before the Roman Emperor closes his appeal with these words: “My conscience is taken captive by God's word, I cannot and will not recant anything. On this I take my stand. I can do no other. So help me God.”
Let's not doubt God...let's rather doubt our doubt.
The aforementioned quotes were taken from God in the Dark by Os Guinness.
Susan Bozarth is the Co-Founder and President of World Missions Advance. To read more blog entries by Susan, please click here.