Maybe you’re a lover of Jesus and when you read that subject line your stomach dropped a little bit because you choose not to go there in your mind out of fear. Maybe you’re a skeptic, and that subject line perfectly describes how you feel about Christianity. Or maybe you just don’t care.
Well, I’m a lover and follower of Jesus. But I, too, am also a skeptic at times. I haven’t always admitted it or had enough faith or courage to go to uncomfortable places and wrestle with my doubts. But recently I have. And I can honestly say it’s only by God’s grace that I’ve been able to do so.
Here’s the thing: I don’t doubt the resurrection of Jesus when I’m cozily worshipping alongside of hundreds of fellow believers on Sundays. I don’t doubt the resurrection of Jesus when I’m having loads of fun with my friends on the weekend doing fun Austiny things. I don’t doubt the resurrection when I’m enjoying my latte as I read Systematic Theology.
Here’s when I start to doubt the resurrection: when following Jesus gets costly.
When I read in His word that I must die to myself and my plans if I wish to follow Him.
When he tells me to Go and make disciples of all nations (whether that means sacrificially going to the nations or sacrificially sending people to the nations—that’s a whole ‘nother blog post which I won’t be writing about anytime soon)
When I read in Philippians that I must consider others more important than myself.
When Paul beckons the question “how can we who died to sin still live in it any longer?”
You see, I don’t doubt the resurrection when my comfortable Christian life in Austin, TX, U.S.A. isn’t challenged. I only begin to doubt the resurrection when His words make me uncomfortable. When they convict me of sin. When they reveal to me what I worship apart from Him and when they tell me that those things lead to destruction and that He is the only thing that leads to life.
Dying to myself and my plans in order to follow Jesus doesn’t always make me giddy. Though I trust that it will be worth it, it’s not an easy command to obey. And sometimes when I evaluate my heart and my life after reading commands like that, these are the kind of thoughts that cross my mind: “if I’m going to die to myself, I need to KNOW he’s really who he says he is. I need to KNOW he’s alive and has literally risen from the dead”
And here’s why that’s the case:
If Jesus did rise from the dead…if he is alive right now, sitting at the right hand of the Father and interceding for me and reminding the Father that I’m covered by his perfect blood for all of my wicked sin (even the sin of faithlesness and doubt)….if this is all true…then EVERY word he said is eternally important.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” -C.S. Lewis
If Jesus is Lord….if he is the Son of the living God…if he is God himself in the flesh…..and if he did rise from the dead after living a perfect life on my behalf and dying a terrible death in my place…..
if those things are true, then I must…WE must “fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God,” as Lewis put it. We must :
Die to ourselves and our plans and follow him; go and make disciples of all nations; consider others as more important than ourselves. We must count everything as loss compared to knowing Him.
About 6 months ago I started wrestling with my doubts. Still today, I wrestle with them. And one thing I know to be true: He is faithful. He continues to crush my doubts with his Word which is truth.
A female leader at my church recently posted a blog about doubting, and I remember sitting at my desk thinking “hooollly cow, this is for me…this is from: God, to: Leslie” and emailing my best friend/sister/roomie explaining to her how comforting the words I came across were. And these were the words I read that day:
“I’m weak when it comes to faith. Most days I‘m scared I’m going to wake up in ten years and not believe in God. Most days I wrestle with the suspicion that I’ve just made this whole thing up.
The hiccup for me on trusting God isn’t to do with His character or kindness, it’s to do with the deep dark fear that there’s no God at all.
When I tell people that, their eyes get really big and, no matter how they try to conceal it, I can see the panic spreading across their face.
They are terrified by my unbelief.
I’m so thankful that God is not.
In Tim Keller’s Reason for God He shares this illustration:
If someone falls off a cliff and on the way down sees a branch strong enough to hold them, they won’t be helped if they only note evidence of its sturdiness. They must grab onto it (commit) or they will fall. Even if they have only a small amount of faith in the branch’s ability to hold them, if they reach out and grab it, they will be saved. Only then can they move from probability to certainty. Weak faith in a strong object is infinitely better than strong faith in a weak object.
I have weak faith.
But I have weak faith in a strong object.
God does not fear my unbelief. He is mighty to save.
And just at the moment that I feel my fingers slipping off the branch, I can feel His hand on my wrist, firm and strong; reminding me that “it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” (Romans 9:16 ESV)”
Okay, so…pretty awesome, right? (And there’s way way more where that came from: http://www.fabsharford.com/trust-me/)
Let’s replay this part: God does not fear my unbelief.
GUYS. That’s big. Though my unbelief scares the mess out of me, it doesn’t scare God. He knows me infinitely more than I know myself. As we see in his word, he knows the number of hairs on my head (and if you’ve ever met me, that’s a lot of hair). And nothing about me surprises or scares Him.
One practical resource I’d recommend is a free eBook that was recently released by a local pastor. Its’ called “Raised? Doubting the resurrection” —> raisedbook.com. It talks about the plausibility of the resurrection and how we don’t have to just close our eyes and hope it’s true. It’s a short read and I’d encourage all to read it : believers and nonbelievers alike.
BOTTOM LINE: it’s okay to wrestle with your doubts. They might be scary to you, but they’re not scary to Him. So: GO THERE. Go there with God. Get on your face and ask him to help your unbelief.
He has helped me. and He continues to help me. Daily, he helps. Moment by moment, he helps.