Friday, October 21, 2022

Help My Unbelief

We've spent the week talking about doubt and what the "post-evangelical" crowd likes to call "deconstruction" - the questions that we have about faith, about God, about grace, about life, about love, about ourselves in the image of God. 

What we've seen is that doubt is not sin, no matter how much the church sometimes preaches that message. But neither is it something we should champion and applaud as deconstruction, so that we encourage the weakening of the faith. Rather, doubt is a natural part of learning, of growing. It's who we are - we are questioners at hear. We want to know, and in fact, everything we know right now is both something that we once did not know and at the same time, may not know for sure in the future. This is the nature of knowledge and thus, doubt is a natural part of that.

And if you need more evidence that doubt is not sin, that it just is, look no further than Jesus. 

As I was writing one of the posts earlier this week, that well-known Gospel story came to mind where the man cries out to Jesus, "I believe! Help my unbelief!" 

What happens next is important. Or rather, what doesn't happen next. Jesus does not look at this guy and say, "Nope. Sorry. I can't help you. You don't believe? How dare you! Come back to Me when you figure it out and ask again." 

Jesus doesn't look at the guy and condemn him. "Well, then, you're obviously going to Hell because of your unbelief."

Jesus doesn't even call the guy a sinner. Or a hypocrite. Or anything at all negative. 

He just gives the guy the healing he's seeking (not for himself, but for someone he loves). 

Maybe you're thinking to yourself, "Now that you mention it, weren't there times Jesus did call persons out for their unbelief? For their lack of faith? I remember something about you faithless and unbelieving generation...."

You're right. He did. But not because they doubted. Jesus called those folks out because they ignored all of the evidence He'd already given Him and kept asking for the evidence they wanted to see. They were trying to shape Him in their image, and He wasn't about that. He also wanted to make it clear to them that that's not how faith works. Faith isn't supposed to give you the answers you seek, but respond to your actual questions - and these guys that kept asking for signs or failing to make faith "work" for them the way they thought it should weren't asking questions; they were trying to jump straight to their answers. Their own answers, which they really just wanted to hear come from Jesus's mouth. 

That's what He was upset with them about - not that they had questions, but that they weren't being honest about them. 

And you'll notice, if you read, that many (overwhelmingly many) of the questions they did ask Him were meant to trap Him and weren't honest questions, either. That, too, He chastised them for. 

But you never see Jesus chastise someone for an honest question. You never see Him scream at them for a moment of doubt. He doesn't condemn anyone for not having a better honest faith. At every turn, He answers. He helps. He guides. He responds.

And if Jesus doesn't condemn you for having questions, why should you condemn yourself? Why should anyone else? 

Doubt is not sin. It is not deconstruction. It (When it's honest.) 

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