Do you have doubts? Or do you know someone who doubts? If you do, this blog post is written for you.
A Christian Leader Who Doubts
Today I was reading about a Christian leader who has doubts. It’s inherent in his personality. He second guesses himself about everything, even small things. It’s his nature to want to get everything right. He likes to avoid mistakes. So he has this part of him that wells up inside and questions. He has even doubted his faith in Jesus. That’s kind of amazing because he’s a big player in Christian circles, yet he’s struggled with serious doubts about his faith.
In our series on the book of John we’re at the place in John chapter eleven when Thomas has a part in the story. A really amazing part. And (Lord willing) we’re going to look at that in our next post on the book of John. But today I’d like to share with you some insights from Michael Licona. He’s the Christian leader who’s struggled with doubt and he offers four insights he found to be helpful when he found himself doubting.
Doubting Is Normal, Even For God’s Great Ones
Licona points out that even some of God’s greatest and most favored men doubted. When Abraham perceived his life could be in danger because the Egyptians might want to kill him for his wife, his emotion overwhelmed him and he told Sarah to say she was his sister. He didn’t trust God to protect him, so he lied. Pharaoh wound up taking Sarah into his harem and God had to intervene to protect her and Abraham both. That’s recorded in Genesis 12, and then later in Genesis 20 Abraham finds himself in a similar situation, but, now he trusts God to protect him, right? Wrong. He tries to use the same scheme and it produces the same results. And then there’s that whole thing with Hagar. Yet Abraham is called the father of faith. And he’s honored for his faith in what some scholars call the hall of faith, Hebrews chapter 11. God showed great grace and mercy to Abraham. (Romans 4:16, Hebrews 11:8-19)
When John the Baptist was in prison he sent messengers to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” Jesus gave the messengers an answer to take back to John and then proceeded to tell the crowd what a great man John the Baptist was. “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.” Jesus didn’t rebuke John but responded to John’s doubt with understanding and grace. (Matthew 11:2-11)
So doubt is normal, even for God’s greats like Abraham and John the Baptist. If it’s normal for them, how much more normal is it for you, and for me.
I learned recently that virtually all scholars, both secular and Christian, believe that Jesus was crucified on the cross by Pontius Pilate, and that Jesus appeared (somehow and in some form) to his disciples, and that Jesus appeared to Paul. That blew my mind. Even secular historians believe these events to be true.
The evidence for Christ and his teachings isn’t indisputable but that’s the case for any worldview. And the evidence for Christianity compares favorably to other world-views.
Today I read about an astrophysicist named Stuart Clark who wrote a book called The Unknown Universe: What We Don’t Know About Time and Space in Ten Chapters. It’s a book about what we don’t know. Very often scientists are unable to provide a high level of certainty about the events they investigate. The truth is, there’s a lot we don’t know about a lot of things, big things, major things.
What we know about Jesus isn’t indisputable but it’s credible.
The Unattainability Of Absolute Certainty
It’s human nature to want to know–for sure, with absolute certainty. But we can’t. When we choose a career and invest in preparation for that career, we can’t have absolute certainty that it’s the right one. When we marry someone we can’t have absolute certainty about the future of our relationship with our spouse. They could change (they will change). Or you could change (you will too). We can’t have absolute certainty about our health. Most of life is made up of choices about which we have no absolute certainty.
Your choice to follow Jesus is no different.
Help My Unbelief
I love the story about the man who came to Jesus because he needed him to heal his son. Jesus said to the man, “All things are possible for one who believes.”
The man cried out to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
This guy was by no means a shining example of faith. But Jesus healed his son.
If a bear is chasing you through the woods and you see a tree with an assortment of branches that might hold you, you might have doubts about the strength of the branch you choose. But that doesn’t matter. What matters isn’t your doubt or your level of certainty. What matters is that you choose the right branch.
Faith goes way beyond what you’re feeling. Faith is a choice. Faith is a commitment.
Choose the right branch and you live.
Choose the right savior and you’re saved.
In our next post we’ll look at Thomas, the one who some would call the most famous doubter of all.
These ideas aren’t my own, although I tried to put them into my own words. They came from an article called I’m A Doubting Thomas by Mike Licona on his website Risen Jesus. Much of what he wrote came from one of his mentors Gary R. Habermas. Liconas recommends Habermas’s book, The Thomas Factor: Using Your Doubts To Draw Closer To God. Click on the link. It’s free.