I'll never forget the night I was asked to host a "Q & A" panel for an Atheist Convention in downtown Springfield. I was a Junior in college at the time wondering what my options were for dinner that night in the Cafeteria. I knew whatever was about to be served my heart was set on cereal. I'm still hoping one day to own a food truck that serves specialty one of a kind cereal with those fancy spoons that changes colors or maybe a bendy straw attached to the bowl. How cool would I look yelling orders across a downtown park for customers to pick up their limited edition "Chris Todd's famous Captain Lucky Pebbles" all while wearing an almond milk stained apron and skinny jeans sponsored by Kellogs.
Aside from my long derailed dream of cereal goal setting, I remember being approached by an older gentlemen who introduced himself as once being a Christian but was told too stop asking too many questions about God and the bible. After too many unanswered questions he began to walk a journey full of doubt which then lead to the abandonment of his faith altogether. After several years spent writing books on why Christianity cannot be the key to the life, he now travels all over as an atheist encouraging people to question everything and leave no room for God. After explaining his background he quickly stated how he saw a sign that read "Baptist Bible College" and was curious if we were considered Christians. I've never had such an interesting dinner conversation before in my life. "Well I have no idea what your plans are for tomorrow morning but I would greatly appreciate it if you all considered speaking at an atheist convention known as Skepticon. We would want for you guys to host a question and answer panel to find out more about what you believe and why." he spoke as he exited to his car clarifying how no one would slam us or make fun of us for what we believe.
Upon making a decision to skip classes the next day just to attend "Skepticon: the largest atheist convention in the Midwest" I began to study and research some of people's biggest questions about God. I planted the seed of doubt myself as I had more questions than answers the deeper and deeper I rooted myself in studying. "God what if I can't answer their questions? Why is your word unclear at times on big issues? Why are there so many people who have turned their backs on believing in you altogether from not having their questions answered?" I began to doubt myself.
The word doubt comes from the Latin "dubitare" which means to hesitate, question, or waiver in opinion with a sense of "of two minds, undecided between two things". Whenever we doubt we are presented with a word picture of stumbling through an icy field slipping back and forth between two paths. We become confused and frustrated while at the same time being in an open position of indecision.
As a Christian is it a sin to have doubts? Short answer for this question is no. Doubt is an experience common to all people. Even those we read about in the Bible that had faith in God struggled with doubt on occasion. Doubt is not something we as Christians should be greatly hindered by or an obstacle to overcome but rather doubt gets to be used as a springboard launching us to growth and seeking God more! Questions only harm us if we choose not seek out truth (John 8:32). In choosing a path to seek out answers we come to find a God who is ultimately bigger than your questions.
So as a Christian what do I do with Doubt? Whenever I struggle with doubt and unanswered questions I love to follow the Mark 9:24 method. In Mark 9:17-27 we come across an incredible story of Jesus bringing out an unclean spirit from a sick young boy. As the father approaches Jesus in desperation he cries out "I believe; 'help my unbelief!” when Jesus told him to have faith. Here we see that doubt has great potential for a Christian to grow deeper in their faith with God when they are honest about their doubts and confess them to God. Just like the father approaching the true source of life knowing Jesus had all the answers, we in the same way must not only confess to God our doubts but run towards Him with our questions. God gives us the opportunity to seek out answers in His living true word and guides us as we commit to do the homework. The last important detail is to make sure we are doubting out loud. Just like the father in the story cried out to the disciples who then lead him to Jesus, we too need people in our lives that we can surround ourselves with that lead us to Jesus.
1. Confront- Approach God about your doubts through prayer
2. Commit- Spend time researching the homework through God's word
3. Community- Doubt out loud with people who can help point you to Jesus
Feed your faith, doubt your doubts and embrace the struggle. You are never more closer to someone than when you are wrestling with them. The same is true with God, in our wrestling we come to find a patient loving father who is waiting for us to put our faith into action and choose the path that leads to truth and life.
True saving faith always perseveres to the end
1 Peter 1:8-9
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.