People of Faith Don’t Have Everything Figured Out
To open up to others either privately or openly regarding concepts, doctrines, or beliefs with which one has a struggle can be dangerous. It takes a lot of courage to “come out” as one who grapples with this or that when so many others believe that a Christian ought to have particular, such matters settled in concrete.
Do you love your faith so little that you have never battled a single fear lest your faith should not be true? Where there are no doubts, no questions, no perplexities, there can be no growth … We have to wrestle with doubt to arrive at real faith … Real faith is not afraid of doubt, but the faux faith of certitude is afraid of its own shadow. —Brian Zahnd, Water to Wine
Yet, the Bible has plenty of examples of people who’ve wrestled with their faith, and one, in particular, did it literally.
Genesis 32 is the story of when Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord. At the end of this struggle, Jacob is named “Israel”—a name that means “to fight or wrestle with God.” The entire nation after that was known as the people who struggled with God. Some of these struggles are notable in the Hebrew Bible. One need only to look at the many Jews who, in their circumstances, seemed to struggle. From Job to Ruth, Jacob to Moses, the Judges to Esther, and Habakkuk, as well as a host of others, we see that they didn’t have it all figured out and struggled with faith during seasons of their lives.
A father once asked Christ to help his unbelief (Mark 9:24), and the apostles asked Christ to increase their faith (Luke 17:5). While many things have been disclosed since the early days of our faith, there still remain Christians who, in their journey home, haven’t figured it all out. Rather than ridicule them, why not help them?
John Mark once left Paul and Barnabas while on a missionary journey. Paul had no use for him when Barnabas wanted to take him with them as they returned to strengthen those churches. Paul and Barnabas, at the end of Acts 15, we read, split from one another and went their separate ways. Yet, John Mark is highlighted in 2 Timothy 4:11 as useful to Paul. Had Barnabas not taken Mark under his wing, it may have not ever ended that way. We can understand Paul not wanting to take Mark along after he had abandoned him, but there’s a necessity in what Barnabas did too.
In a perfect world, the church would be a place where Christians can express their doubts and not have their motives questioned. Why is it that we people of faith often give this courtesy to non-believers while denying it to our brethren? So many brethren fear speaking out about their doubts for fear that they’ll be chastised by brethren. Let us as Christ’s church see us, not as an ivory tower of knowledge, but as a hostel for seekers of truth. Grace & Peace.