Have you ever doubted God? I have always felt guilty for those times when I’ve asked myself, ‘is there really a God?’ Somehow I thought that to wonder and think through some of the deeper things attributed to, or said by God was treason to my faith. But was it?
I’ve since come to a different conclusion about doubting God, and that it is a good thing because it is what makes us think. I have, and I’m sure you have as well, run across too many Christians who passively take everything on blind faith. However nice that seems, just saying, “I believe” doesn’t cut it for many people struggling with whether or not Christianity can be real in their lives.
Timothy Keller, in his book The Reason For God makes a great point. “Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts-not only their own but their friends’ and neighbors’. It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them. Only if you struggle long and hard with objections to your faith will you be able to provide grounds for your beliefs to skeptics, including yourself, that are plausible rather than ridiculous or offensive.” p. xvii
This is the major problem that Christians face in their spiritual journey—whether or not they are willing to put effort into knowing God. For many, and I mean many, Christians it is easy to receive spiritual food off of watching television evangelists, never witness regarding faith, and avoid any discussion that stretches them spiritually. To these Christians the best way to avoid doubt is to never have any interaction that could possibly cause them to think and study.
We are surrounded by a society that is becoming more and more secular and there are fewer and fewer Christians willing to confront these secular suppositions and provide well thought out and intellectually sound arguments for why Jesus matters. I know doing Apologetics, studying, and having the courage to discuss faith with non-believers is hard work and a bit daunting in its scope. But what is the alternative?
Is it that we entrench around the hope that our children will carry on the faith and trust that someone else will do the heavy lifting for us when it comes to sharing Christ? Or is there a touch of sympathy for the atheist and agnostic view that if we leave them alone they will leave us alone. Or is it possible that we have become so infected with our culture’s values that we are simply more concerned with our own welfare than that of those around us. In other words, as long as I get into heaven it doesn’t really concern me what happens to everyone else.
We all need a wake up call to shake ourselves out of the stupor of believing that the Gospel is all about our own prosperity and get back to the great commission. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Matthew 28: 19-20
If you and I don’t take this great commission seriously then who should? Now we come to another hindrance to sharing our faith and that is a belief that apologetics, confrontation with non-believers, and in depth Bible study is the domain of professional Christians and over zealous laity. But look at what Paul tells the young man Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
I started this post by talking about doubts and I want to come back to that now. Whether or not we want to admit it we all have doubts from time to time. An innocent baby dies, a storm kills hundreds, the nice lady down the street drops dead at 43 from a heart attack while our deadbeat uncle lives to be 100 and the list goes on. What we do with that doubt determines who we are on our spiritual journey.
We either work through these storms and heartaches by uncovering and discovering more and more about the ways of God in the lives of humans or we allow these fears, doubts, and discouragements to fester within us until one day we just walk away from God and give up.
Over the life of the beggar danced I’ve heard from numerous people who have given up on their faith. For most of these people they never worked through, in their own minds, their own doubts and fears so they allowed those doubts to conquer their trust in God.
So the bottom line is how do we respond to critics of Christianity? First of all no matter how much we prepare to share the Gospel someone will always come up with a question we are unable or are unprepared to answer. But there are many things we can answer truthfully and honestly that can make a difference in the life of a non-believer.
With a little study we should be able to defend the historical reality that Jesus lived and died. There are numerous sources outside of Christianity that attest to His life and death. Some of these sources are not favorable but they prove His existence and the people’s expectations concerning Him.
We should be able to discuss the resurrection with some authority and have the ability to articulate the arguments in favor of Jesus’ resurrection in light of the long discredited arguments against the resurrection. We should have a good grip on where the Bible came from, how it was put together and the reliability of Scripture.
Most of all, however, is we need to have love in our hearts for those people we long to share our faith with. It is important for us to remember that they are lost and their lives are going to come to a screeching halt someday and then it will be too late for them. Without Christ family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances are going to be lost regardless of our hopes and dreams to the contrary.
When Paul told Timothy to study we were all included in that. The Living Bible translation of 1 Peter 3:15 hits the point, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.”
Let me close by meddling a bit. How many of us know more about Hockey, Baseball, and Basketball than we do about the Gospel commission? How many of us are more interested in our own prosperity than the spiritual prosperity of our loved ones? How many of us spend our time watching television instead of studying to show ourselves approved? How many of us dream of our vacation time instead of praying for God to redeem our children and friends?
I’m not trying to lay guilt on anyone. I’m simply trying to be honest and I can tell you I don’t answer all those questions the way that I should be able to answer. But I can say it is time we began to flex our intellectual mussels and become able to give an answer for the hope that is within us. The only way our doubts are going to disappear is if we take the time to unpack them and sort them through. There are answers, and good answers, to so many questions that we have and our culture has concerning God. We just need to have the determination to cultivate the desire to seek out those answers and present them when called upon by the Holy Spirit.