Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8
Why Do I Doubt?
In our last post, Doubt, Faith, and Reason, we looked at how a firefighter decided to risk his own life and crawl through a window into a burning building to save three children. And we saw how his decision making process is related to our choosing to believe (or not believe) in the gospel accounts.
In today’s post we’ll look at one of the reasons why we doubt.
Getting to Know a Firefighter
Yesterday a candidate for a firefighter position at Medford Fire-Rescue contacted me asking for advice about how to get hired. Before I started writing full time, I was involved in the hiring process for the fire department. I’m pretty sure we have the most thorough process in the state. We start with an application screening and end with a background check that’s incredibly thorough. Before we hire someone we know them just about as well as you can know someone without living with them. Which is important because firefighters have a unique schedule, and because of their unique schedule they live with each other almost a third of their lifetime during their career. It’s also important because once he or she is hired, the department and the community will probably be stuck with this person, for better or for worse, for thirty years or so.
But here’s the thing, no matter how thorough our process, and no matter how deep we go with our background investigation, we don’t really get to know the candidate until he’s been with us for a few years. There have been a few backgrounds that sounded promising but after living with the person for a time it became apparent we chose the wrong man. Conversely there have been a few background investigations that left us on the fence, but after living with the person for a few years we found him or her to be spectacular.
I have found that it’s the same with Jesus Christ.
Getting to Know Christ
What I mean by that is this. I’m not a blind faith person. It’s important to me to research the question of whether or not Jesus is real. But as important as that is, just the same as a new firefighter, I can’t really know him until I live with him for a couple of years.
I think today there are many who were raised in a church going family and were exposed to Christianity through the filter of their parents. I’m not even addressing whether their parents did a good job of sharing their faith or not. What I am saying is that they learned information about Jesus from their mom and dad, and from their youth pastor, and from their senior pastor. Maybe also from teachers at a Christian school if their parents went that route.
As adults they may have even researched the Christian faith in books or on Reddit or through their college professors, and that’s good. But they’ve never engaged Jesus Christ personally, as an adult. They did their background investigation but they don’t really know him. They’ve never lived with him for a few years.
Intimacy and Doubt
Think it through. Ask yourself, “Did I just go through the motions, the same motions my parents went through? Did I really do everything I could to draw close to Christ? Did I really seek him?”
I’m doing research right now for a book I’m writing and I’m reading about the lives of some of the giants of the faith: St. Augustine, E.M. Bounds, Oswald Chambers, F.B. Meyer, Dwight L. Moody, G. Campbell Morgan, Andrew Murray, Ruth Paxson, Hannah Whitall Smith, and Charles Spurgeon, to name a few. And I’m struck by the determination and perseverance of these people, to seek intimacy with Jesus Christ. This is a common denominator among all of these giants of the faith.
In my own life I have found the stronger my desire to seek Jesus, the more real he becomes. The stronger my desire for intimacy with Christ the stronger my faith becomes, and the weaker my doubts become.
Typically we’re filled with desire to draw close to Christ after a crisis of some kind: a divorce, or we’re devastated physically, or we’re financially crushed. It happens when we’re desperate. It happens when we’re hurt. It happens when we’re humbled. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can do this. Like Augustine, Smith, or Spurgeon you can make it your mission to draw close to Jesus Christ. And why wouldn’t you? We put all that time, energy, and money into hiring a firefighter because we’ll be stuck with him, for better or for worse, for thirty years. The question of Christ has consequences that don’t last thirty years but are eternal. So why wouldn’t you do whatever it takes to get to know him? Does it make sense to invest more time in your music, or your fantasy sports team, or your video game than seeking intimacy with God’s Son?
You’ve done the investigation. Now see what he’s really like. Live with him for a few years.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
You might also like:
Timothy Keller Podcast, Doubt: What should I do with my doubts?
[Image via dory kornfeld – Creative Commons]