As followers of Christ we are called to live out the gospel message in a way that is fulfilling to our understanding of the way God interacts with the world and with humanity. If we were raised in the church we were taught the stories of Bible, Noah’s Ark, Daniel and the lion’s den and Jesus’ ministry. As we grow and mature in age we begin to look at the world differently. We have different life experiences which shape our overall viewpoint. Things that once were clear are now a bit hazy, the truth we once believed does not seem to be plausible anymore. In any person’s faith journey there will inevitably be a section(s) where doubt has set in.
We have all been there…Doubt the very faith we have been raised in or believed for most of our life. We question the validity of the stories, the interpretation of the text and the practices of the church. Many Christians have left the faith all together because the level of doubt was too great. Others have simply changed denominations or changed their beliefs about certain issues like women in ministry, baptism and even homosexuality. All of these changes have come out of period of doubt.
Doubt is not necessarily a bad thing. Doubt makes us question, reexamine and reflect on even the most basic of held beliefs. Minister Brian McLaren wrote “sometimes doubt is absolutely essential. Doubt is like pain: it tells us something nearby or within us is dangerous. It calls for attention and action.”
I agree with McLaren, doubt does call us to action. Church communities are supposed to be places where our doubts can be shared, where our struggles can be brought forth, a place to say “I don’t know about this Trinity thing.” The Disciples of Christ pride ourselves on being open and accepting of a variety of belief systems and structures but too often our churches do not reflect that.
Our church today faces some grave challenges and it will be easy to doubt that anything can be done. This, my friends, is the wrong mindset. While doubt is healthy in one sense, it is completely destructive in another. I am not advocating for looking at the world through “rose colored glasses” but I am saying that through this time of doubt we can renew our faith in God. We can take this time of discontent and make it in a time of renewal and rebirth. Let us journey with God together.
Where were the times in your life when doubt set it? What did you do to ‘overcome?’ Let’s reflect on these questions in the weeks ahead.