At the beginning of the year and as a part of the month of Throwback Blogs in October, I published a blog entitled I Will Not Be Shaken. It was really a response to much of what I’ve noticed in Christianity; namely those voices who have been given a platform in the faith who are now walking back their beliefs and/or experiencing “deconstruction.” I fear that we are coming into a season where this will become more and more common. That we will see outright falling away accompanied by the subtle questioning of Scripture from many. Sadly, it will not shock or surprise us any longer. And that lack of shock or surprise is what concerns me (hence the aforementioned blog).
The concern I have with doubt is that I can experience it too. I can be too easily enamored with lesser truths and the desire to meet my own needs with an easy gospel. In that place, I’m often cut off from where I need to be in my relationship with Christ. Either life has gotten too busy and I’ve not safeguarded my time with Him or the flip side is true: life has gotten too easy and I’m simply complacent and the car is on auto-pilot. Either way, I believe doubt creeps in because we have lost the heart of our relationship with Christ. Indeed, we have lost the relationship itself and have become too fixed upon what the end benefit is for us.
I want to be careful today as I write. I want people to know I am not coming from a place of condemnation but of love. Simply put, I love you too much not to speak the truth. I love my own soul too much to not tell it and remind it of the truth. We serve a God who is patient with us and wants us to come to Him: The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 That I believe, is the Father’s heart. Even in our doubt, that is still His heart and desire for us.
I don’t view doubt as a bad thing in and of itself. I think it can stir up some good things in us when we pursue answers to our questions. But it’s easy to stop pursuing, to assume the doubts are real, and to find ourselves years down the road out of relationship and fellowship with our Savior. And that happens to hundreds and thousands of people on a daily, regular basis. We have the opportunity to speak truth into these lives that once burned bright for Him. If you are there today, doubting something about Jesus or God, this message is for you. All month long, we’ve been sitting at the feet of Jesus. We must return there again today.
1. Remain in prayer
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15:4
A very long blog series this year covered the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit (The Fruit). I say long because each week became a separate focus on an individual fruit. There are 9 fruits in all and with an introductory blog, we covered 10 weeks on the topic. Part of the reason this topic so intrigued me is because this year I began to ask “What are the evidences of a life lived for Christ?” I wanted to find markings. Things that a person could say help identify a Christian’s behavior — both publicly and behind closed doors. For me, Jesus’ words in John 15 are about how the fruit comes to bear. It only comes from a relationship with Him. I might be out on a limb here, but I’m willing to guess the prayer life of a doubter is probably not very vibrant. Again, just a hunch. For those who doubt, there is a natural tendency to close off from God. And that is exactly what Satan wants. He knows you are a threat to him when you are in prayer; when you are trusting God. If you leave that place, your lines of communication are compromised. You are cut off. Dear doubter, hear me out: a place you must return to, even in your wrestling, is a place of prayer. Take doubts to the feet of Jesus. Release them there. Allow Him to show you the answer. At the same time, be willing to accept even no response if one does not immediately come. But do not neglect prayer. It is vital. I believe He will reveal Himself to you in a real way.
2. Remain in the Word
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
There is such power in knowing God’s word; in understanding and applying Scripture. It’s a key tool that Christ used to overcome the temptations of Satan (see Rooted In Self-Control) and it is a tool for us as well. When we come into a place of doubt, we must examine the Bible. We must not consult it as an outside or secondary source, but as the source for our daily lives. When we read His Word, we see it is His love letter to us. If you have fallen out of relationship with Jesus, fall back in love with Him. Read the Gospel story. See His heart once again. And pray that He softens yours to what He is saying.
I will agree that there are difficult passages of Scripture. Difficult texts to read and interpretations to bear. But I do not believe Scripture contradicts itself. Rather, I do believe the Bible is timeless and still applicable to us today. Again, when we are not daily reading the word, we get cut-off from the voice of our Father. We start to make our own path and determine our own truth. Inevitably these truths do not align naturally with the Bible. This is the point where I believe deconstruction starts for so many who have backpedaled in their faith. I believe in most cases, these people got to a place where they stopped going deeper in their quest for truth. In addition, they gave up fighting for that regular, ongoing relationship. Into that context, their heart started to grow cold to all that they once held as vital and life-sustaining. We must remain in the Word.
3. Remain in fellowship
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25
In a world dominated by social media, it would seem like our connectedness should be at an all-time high. We should feel like we are the most integrated and communal society — ever! Sadly, this is not at all the case. We are fractured. We are a broken society. We spend more time lobbing bombs from our keyboards than we ever do making real relationships a priority. The church feels this weight as well as many see involvement as optional or somehow feeling spirituality is “an individual journey.”
Guys we need each other. The Lone Ranger Christian mentality does not work. And I believe we are seeing people reject their faith because they have fallen out of fellowship. Fellowship brings accountability. Yes it gets messy at times. Yes you have to be vulnerable and willing to open up and share. But out of that comes freedom. And out of that comes a spurring on of one another toward good works. It is easy to doubt in a vacuum. It’s hard to doubt when you are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses (both in Heaven and on Earth). Fight for fellowship. Be in a church that preaches the whole truth of Scripture. And get involved.
Out of all the “Letters…” this month, I think Dear Doubter is the hardest one to write. Much of it is because I cannot convince you to believe something. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. I think doubt often comes through a crisis moment. A point at which we were sailing along, things were going great and then the bottom fell out. We hit a point at which we started to question. And rather than that questioning pushing us closer to Christ, we withdrew and went to a place where we could control the answers. A place where we could set up the “god” we wanted to have.
Dear doubter: in closing, here are 2 things I’d ask of you and again, it’s covered in love:
First, be willing to investigate the truth claims of Christ again. Is He Who He says He is? If so, what are the implications? If He’s Lord, the implications are huge and it changes everything. The Jesus Dare book by Jay Payleitner and these blogs (Asking Big Questions, Sharing The Dare, and Ready To Jump) are a great resources to help.
Secondly, do not let the Enemy cause you to question in the dark, the things God has shown you plainly in the light. What I mean by this is, sometimes when we go through a difficult or dry season, we find ourselves questioning everything about our lives. Is God really real? Is He good? Do I really believe this Jesus stuff? Although sometimes our faith needs moments of reassurance, there are times in those dry spells in which Satan loves to whisper lies and half-truths. Go back to what you once knew. Reaffirm those things. If you underline things in Scripture, go back to them and meditate over them. What did they mean to you when you underlined or journaled about them? What do they mean to you today? If God was true then, He is still true now.
Guys I love you. I love walking the journey with you. Thanks for spending this month with me covering Letters To The Hurting. Please share and forward these messages on to anyone who might benefit. God bless!
Other blogs from the LETTERS TO THE HURTING series: