Thursday, February 7, 2013

When We Doubt

My father-in-law had a saying that served him well: "Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see."  He knew the danger of being naive and gullible in a world where deception is a finely-honed art form.  Jesus told us in Matthew 16:10, Behold, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves, so be as wise as snakes, and as innocent as doves.  God may love childlike faith, but He knows that naivete about the things of this world can be deadly.  Sometimes, doubt can be a healthy thing.

But what about when we doubt the things God Himself tells us?  It’s our job as ambassadors for Christ to represent Him well in a non-Christian culture.  And sometimes we ourselves doubt the very message we’re supposed to be communicating.  For some of us, this happens when tragedy or hardship strikes: A loved one who we fervently prayed for dies anyway.  Or a job we desperately wanted goes instead to a person who is not a believer.  At moments like that, we doubt God’s power or His love.  “Lord,” we think to ourselves, “either you’re not as strong as your Word says, or you don’t really care about me.  Otherwise, this wouldn’t have happened.”  Others doubt God’s mercy.  We’ve done things that fill us with so much shame.  Even though intellectually we understand the Gospel, and we have heard about His forgiveness and grace, deep down inside we just don’t see how He can love us.  Still others begin to doubt God’s very existence.  In your study of Christianity, you’ve come across Bible stories that don’t seem to make sense, details that don’t seem to square with science, or teachings that are difficult to accept.  Or in light of the arguments of unbelievers who you respect, faith in Christ suddenly seems like a belief in dragons, fairies or unicorns.  You’re wondering how long you can hang on to this faith, or if it’s even worth it. 
            Chances are, some of you right now are wondering how I knew that about you.  You’re wondering if I am reading your emails, your journal, or even your mind, and am preaching this sermon just for you.   I assure you that’s not the case.  What if I told you that you’re not alone?  I would be willing to bet that almost every one of us has experienced some sort of doubt at some point in their walk with Christ.  What if I told you that one of the greatest, most courageous followers of Jesus once doubted whether He was really the Messiah?  This Sunday, we’ll look at that story.  We’ll learn two important, life-changing truths about doubt.

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