Over the last few weeks, the evangelical world has seen notable people like Josh Harris (author “I Kissed Dating Goodbye) and Marty Sampson (songwriter with Hillsong) declare they have walked away from their faith. There has been a wide range of emotions in response to these people. One of the more helpful comments were made by John Cooper – lead singer for Skillet. For me, it was a sobering reminder of how people who seem to be strong and faithful on the outside may be battling doubts and questions on the inside. I completely understand this reality. There have been many times over the years when I have doubted my faith.
Why I Have Doubted
- When I see so many people who face painful and difficult circumstances over and over again, I have wondered why God allows it to happen and why He doesn’t seem to answer prayer to “fix” those problems.
- When people who claim to be followers of Jesus act the opposite of the way Jesus would respond, I have wondered where the power of God is to change someone’s life.
- When obeying Jesus seems to be so much more difficult than another path – I have doubted whether it is worth it to follow Him.
- When I see miserable, joyless Christians and compare them with others who don’t follow Jesus but yet seem to have so much joy – I have doubted whether Jesus came to bring life and life more abundantly.
Why I Don’t Leave
I fully recognize how easy it would be to become the next Josh Harris or Marty Sampson, but I have never been able to come to that point. Why? The bottom line is God Himself.
The problem with every doubt listed above is that people are the centre of the story. However, if people are the centre of the story, then people are god. If people are god, then it’s no wonder why humanity is in such a mess. Each person is ultimately seeking their happiness. This pursuit for our own happiness is not true love; it is 7 billion gods all in competition with each other in some way, shape, or form. The Christian story says we are made in the image of God. In part, this means we are to reflect Him. He is the centre and point of the whole story, not us. He has brought us into His story, not the other way around.
I am fully aware of how weak I am when it comes to faith. It is God who keeps bringing me back to who He is, who I am, and who we are in relationship with each other. Jeremiah 32:38-41 gives us a glimpse of how this works. God has done something in my heart that won’t allow me to turn away from Him.
Embracing the Path of Doubt
I have learned that doubts about faith are a normal part of being human. As Christians, we often feel shame about our doubts. However, we need to talk about them more. More importantly, we need to speak with God about them more.
Mark 9:24 tells the story of a man talking to Jesus. The man says these famous words, “I believe, help my unbelief.” It’s a fascinating prayer because his statement of unbelief is really a statement of belief. He believes that Jesus can help his doubts.
If Jesus is whom He says He is, then He is not only big enough to handle when we doubt, He is also big enough to help give clarity and perspective to our doubts.
I’m not mad about these “famous” people who have walked away from their faith – I’m sad. I’m also very aware of the temptation to make people the centre of the story instead of God Himself. My doubts are real, but God is greater. By His grace, I will keep my eyes and mind focused on Him.