Belief in Unbelief
I have discussed before about how doubt is okay in certain circumstances. I was recently reminded of this topic while listening to one of my favorite songs (Jason Gray, For the First Time Again, and today I refer to the verse mentioned in the song and will get back to this later!), and it also reminded me of a conversation I had with me own mum a few years ago.
The verse I refer to is Mark 9:24: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
The man who said this to Jesus believed that Jesus could help, but he struggled with doubt. He just handled it in the correct manner. He asked God.
What if our doubt has to do with whether or not God is involved?
The Bible deals with this.
John, in 1 John 4:1, says “Dear Friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Did you know we are not supposed to have a blind faith? Many in the Western Church have been raised to “just believe and not ask questions.” This verse seems to declare otherwise. (Another is 1 Thessalonians 5:21)
Some people send out and/or forward e-mails that sound very inspirational or seem to raise awareness of some injustice or cause. This is the very reason Snopes.com (atheistic, as far as I know, but still quite trustworthy if you are concerned) was founded, to discover which stories are true and false. (Something I found ironic, my mom raised me to study things, and when I e-mailed her a link to something cool she asked forgiveness for not trusting me and checking Snopes! I had already checked it myself! This is the conversation I mentioned above) It is more than okay to look into these e-mails and reports.
As we get into the presidential election, we are going to be hearing many things from the candidates and their supporters both for and against each candidate. We have seen some of these stretch the truth pretty far in the past. We should check everything we hear about a candidate before choosing what to believe about them. It is just smart and an all-around good idea. If you believe we can trust everything every politician says, you need a little more help than I can offer!
Every time we meet for church or to study the Bible or for a fellowship event (concert, Promise Keepers, Women of Faith, leadership/missionary conferences, etcetera) we should approach each teaching with sound reason and a healthy dose of skepticism. I am not saying we doubt everything that is said, nor I am saying we should discount our knowledge of what each speaker has said before. For example, if you have attended the same church with the same pastor for years with solid teaching, you should be able to trust what the pastor says this Sunday, too. However, as many of my pastor friends have said over the years, we should follow along in our Bibles with every teaching to make sure there is no mistake! This is not questioning everything that is said, rather it is confirming truth or revealing mis-truthes and mistakes.
Similarly, whenever a new teacher comes along, a new theologian theologizes, or science proclaims new evidence of something, we should test the statements and information for validity and trustworthiness both with Scripture and logic. I am sorry if your feelings are hurt, but outside of Christianity all religions do not pass most tests. Even some spheres of Christianity (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints [Mormons], Jehovah’s Witnesses, Westboro Baptist Church, some separate congregations within mainline churches, and many others) leave Scripture and logic behind. We must be careful.
This is why doubt is a good thing. This is why we can believe in God and His Church but show signs of disbelief. My mom sometimes regrets feeling like “a Doubting Thomas,” but when we are receiving teachings from a fallen world and those who may be false prophets (which can come from other religions and secular society) it can be wise to not believe everything.
If we continually seek our Lord, it becomes easier to know when it is Him speaking and when it is not. I teach the young men I mentor (and anyone else who listens) to test everything I say. They are not to accept everything I say as truth but make their faith their own. We do not always agree on every little thing, and that is okay. It is not okay when our unbelief gets in the way of our belief in God and our ability to love Him and other people.
Have some doubt, but as I said in the posts I referenced at the beginning of this one, make sure your doubt pushes you toward God and not away.