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Doubt as a Companion to Faith
A true and living faith is never a destination; it’s a journey. And to move forward on this journey we need doubt. Faith is not based on certainty. Think of it this way. We often cling to certainty-seeking faith like one might a map as if the map itself is actually the territory. But our “map” of God is never the complete and fully truthful reflection of the territory. We can only be genuinely open to going deeper with God if we hold our maps in a flexible way.
This kind of openness recognizes the benefit of doubt. This kind of doubt makes room for us to struggle on the inside of our relationship with Jesus because our faith is not found in how certain we are, but in the faithfulness of Christ.
Exploring the doubts we might have inside this relationship allows us to be honest, open, and as objective as possible as we work through issues without fear that the faithful love of Christ for us hangs in the balance. And the freedom to explore these kinds of doubts makes us adept at remaining humble as we remember that our maps are always limited and tentative, whether we are talking about our relationship with God or other people. The map is not the territory.
With our confidence in the faithful love of the self-sacrificial character that Jesus displayed on the cross, exploring doubts can free us to honestly explore our map for ourselves. Knowing how easy it is to be self-deceived, this kind of doubt allows us to explore whether we really believe what we say we believe.
More importantly, it empowers us to better relate to God, whose perspective is always further beyond our own than the stars are beyond us. Doubts that you explore within your relationship with Jesus can give you the space to wrestle toward an ever-deepening, increasingly intimate relationship with another. Doubt is not the enemy of faith. It’s a much-needed companion.
If you’re among those who have felt the need to try to avoid doubt and strive for certainty, if you are among those whose security has been wrapped up in a commitment you made at some point in the past that you thought “sealed the deal” between you and God, or if you are one of those many who embraced the idea that faith is an invisible thing that has no necessary connection to how you live, day in and day out, maybe it’s time you consider a reframe. Maybe it’s time to let go of the certainty of your map and embrace the relationship.
—Adapted from Benefit of the Doubt, pages 150-152
Image by Alex Siale via Unsplash
Faith, Doubt and Agnosticism
Hartwig HKD via Compfight Greg was recently interviewed by Premier Radio in the UK for the program Unbelievable? along with Andrew Whyte (an agnostic) on the topic of faith and doubt. They discuss their personal journeys of doubt and how this led them on vastly different paths. You can find the interview by clicking here. You…
Honesty, However Ugly
For last week’s sermon at Woodland Hills Church, Greg spoke about the importance of being honest with God about our struggles and doubts. This is part of what it means to be in a genuine relationship with God, and the Bible is full of characters who demonstrate this for us. Is it difficult for you…
Everybody’s Got A Hungry Heart [Sermon, 7/1/12]
Check out Greg’s latest sermon!
Description from WHC website:
Paul wrote the Colossians to confront a false religion of invoking angels. These invocations were being done because people thought Jesus wasn’t enough. This same type of thought pervades our own society, where people with hungry hearts are searching for more than what Jesus offers. In this sermon, Greg talks about the fullness that Jesus brings.
The Lord of Legend and Love
However secularized a person may be, if they have any sense at all that life has a meaning, they know it must have something to do with love. Indeed, one could argue that all of our intuitions about morality and the meaning of life are at root an intuition about the supremacy of love. At…
Part Three of Greg’s Interview with David D. Flowers
Here’s the final interview that Greg did with David D. Flowers in which he discusses his upcoming book Benefit of the Doubt: Dismantling the Idol of Certainty. Check it out! From the interview: Faith in Scripture isn’t about striving for certainty: it’s about being willing to commit to a course of action — to a way…
Stephen Mattson is a follower of ReKnew and a member of Woodland Hills Church who posted a piece on Sojourners titled Christians: It’s NOT a Sin to Change Your Beliefs. He points out that doubt and questions are a natural and needed part of any Christian’s life, and our community needs to change the ways we…