For ages, Christian scholars and even believers have argued about whether or not the Bible is literally the transcribed word of God or if it is merely inspired by Him. WCCO discussed this issue in one of the their “Good Question” segments.
4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
The key to peace is presenting all over our concerns, the major and minor, to God through constantly speaking to and thinking about Him. It is only when our hearts and our minds are solely on Him that we are able to reach a place of perfect peace, regardless of life’s circumstances, that transcends all understanding.
Now if I could just always remember this then life would be a “piece” of cake..
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
In a seemingly postmodern society in which the world and its bigots constantly redefine the measure and distinction of truth it is no wonder that Christians struggle today with doubt. We live in an unique age in which reason adheres to the fundamental elements of Romanticism while at the same time it holds fast to the principles of the 18th Century Enlightenment. This particular paradigm however is not the most advertent threat to the Church in the 21st Century. It is the misunderstanding and neglection of doubt that has left the Body of Christ so confused.
Doubt means simply “to lack confidence in”. Archaically it means “fear” or “suspect”. From an etymological sense the word doubt comes from the Greek word “diakrinō“. This particular Greek word was used to mean the following:
1) to separate, make a distinction, discriminate, to prefer
2) to learn by discrimination, to try, decide
a) to determine, give judgment, decide a dispute
3) to withdraw from one, desert
4) to separate one’s self in a hostile spirit, to oppose, strive with dispute,
5) to be at variance with one’s self, hesitate, doubt
In conclusion it is also important to note that the English verbs “judge”, “discern”, “contend”, and “waver” are linked to this particular Greek word.
The church still prides itself in laying down the law in the hearts and minds of children at an early age by clarifying to them the “do’s” and “don’ts” of Christianity. The missing piece in this particular puzzle is that the Church rarely takes the time to explain “why” we are called to do these particular things. If we don’t understand why we are doing the things that we do in regards to our Christian faith then why are we even doing them!?!? The Pharisees were known for executing their religious rituals and self proclamation but they had no idea in their heart why they were doing them. Jesus condemned misdirected religion as did Luther when he nailed his 95 theses on the door of the Catholic church. He is noted for saying, “Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying.”
We as believers need to start coming to an understanding of why we believe what we do and why we do the things that we do in relation to our Christian faith. This process however will most definitely require and involve the necessary means of doubt.
Why is it so hard for us as believers to doubt? Why is it necessary for us to doubt?
In response to the latter of the two questions- it is particularly hard for any believer to doubt anything pertaining to the Church and God these days because of the expectation to not do so. Just as most Christian children associate the sins of lying, cheating, and stealing as acts that get one to hell the majority of Christians associate doubting as a means of doing something ungodly. A distinction now needs to be made in regards to the different types of doubt that exist. In the passage above from James it says, ” But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. ”
The word “doubt” in this particular verse is not how you and I know it to mean today. The context of this term reflects that it is more accurately and appropriately associated with the concept of wavering. Hence the reason why an analogy is made in regards to the waves of the sea. What else is more wavering than the waves of the sea? The author of this particular passage is not saying, “Hey Christians if you ever ask God for anything and have the slightest doubt don’t expect it to happen.” If this were truly the case then no person in history would have had any of their prayers answered. Take Abraham for example, he most certainly had his doubts in regards to whether or not he was truly going to the father of many nations. He had his doubts but kept His faith in the Lord and did not waver. On the flip side take the repeated example of the nation of Israel into consideration. This nation, like us at times, found themselves in a sea of doubts that undoubtedly led them to waver and as a result lead them into a sea of consequences. So ultimately there is a type of doubt that leads to increased faith and a brand that leads to wavering (decreased faith).
Os Guinness in his book “God in the Dark” gives two reasons why it is necessary for us as believers to doubt. Firstly he suggests that understanding doubt serves as a safe guard for believers to battle against the possible breakdowns of faith. Guinness suggests that admitting our doubts instead of hiding them allows Christians to learn how to resolve them and turn them into something that constructively builds up one’s faith (15). Doubting in a practical sense is like spiritual manure that contains the necessary ingredients to cultivate a stronger crop of faith in a believers life. Faith without works is dead, works without faith is dead, and faith without doubt is dead (unauthentic).
Secondly, Guinness suggests that doubt “helps us prepare for the years of testing.. that are to come”. He suggests, as does Scripture (James 1:2-4, and 1 Peter 1:6-9), that every trial/test serves as a means to construct and strengthen us. In this same light doubt often times comes to show us that our “attachment to Christian friends or a particular lifestyle or culture is stronger than our attachment to God Himself” (16-17). Doubt in practical senses often times serves as an infrared light that detects what and where we as Christians are putting our self reliance into. In God we trust or is it in America and the Church we trust? Doubt is like a leveling tool that helps believers determine whether or not their trust/faith in aligned closely to the perfect measure of Christ. If it’s not the walls of a Christian’s faith will crumble with trouble and adversity strike.
Saying this, should a believer doubt everything that they see, hear, and know pertaining to their understanding and relationship with Christ? Absolutely not! But we as Christians should not just adhere to the Church’s teaching or our own understanding of God out of fear of coming to a place of doubt. Colossians 2:8 clearly says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” The only thing that is deserving of our fear is God and fortunately He is greater than all of our doubts/fears. He is greater than our hearts. (1 John 3:18-20). Dare to doubt! But always give God freely your doubts so that He can take them and turn them into the necessary ingredients that are needed to strengthen and produce your faith. Only He can cultivate our faith. The last thing this world needs is undiscerning Christians. Know why you believe what you believe, dare to know and do the right things for the right reasons.
Continue to contend your faith brothers and sisters..
“And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”
-1 Kings 19:11-12
The average human ear every day hears over hundreds of different sounds. From the first sounds of the alarm clock to the clicking off sound of the light switch and everything in between. So many things get the attention of our ears but rarely do we as believers allow the voice of God get the attention of our hearts. We ask God to speak of us all the time but rarely do we really listen. We far too often expect and look for neon signs and listen for blaring trumpets to declare the way of the Lord.
The voice of God is distinguishable to the human ear, but our means of interpreting and truly noticing its presence creates difficulty. God reminds us that “His ways are not our ways” the same is true in the way in which He communicates to us. God had to whisper Samuels name three times in order to get his hearts full attention. When the Lord was about to speak to Elijah and appear before him he sent a windstorm, an earthquake, and a raging fire his way. Each time the Lord sent one of these things his way Scripture says that the Lord was NOT in these things. It wasn’t until after all these things occurred that God appeared and spoke to him through a gentle whisper.
The main culprit of not being able to notice and hear the voice of God is a hardened heart. Far too many of us are like Pharaoh whose hearts are hardened because of our unwillingness to just believe and have faith in who God says He is. The next time you wish to hear God’s voice don’t look for neon signs and lighting bolts. “Be still and know He is God…” Don’t expect or look for howling wind, earthquakes, or raging fires when wishing to hear the voice of God. Look to the silence and listen for His whispers.
Several months ago Sarah and I a cheesy movie on TV about a public school teacher with turret syndrome.
Surprisingly the teacher ended up winning a teacher of the year award and at the banquet that was held in honnor of his accomplishments he got up to speak and thank the people that helped him get to point where he was. He had a handful of the typical responses to thank ie. mother, father, family, girlfriend, and his students. But the thing that stood out to me the most was the fact that he said that the person/thing he had to thank the most was his turret syndrome. Sounds cliche, cheesey, and simple I know..
He said this because it was his terret syndrom that taught him to never give up and to keep moving forward no matter what anyone else ever thought or told him.
Recently I have been taking a look back at my own life and all of my victories and all my defeats. I have come to realize that my defeats have been a means for most of my lifes accomplishments and victories. Despite my own failures and lack of sufficiency, the Lord’s grace has been sufficient and he has used my losses to challenge and remind me to never give up and to keep moving forward. Needless to say I believe that our defeats and our own flaws can teach us a lot about how to be victorious and they can pave away for the victories to come.