Probably the biggest thing God did in my life this last year, and one of the most important in my life, was this: Doubt is an essential element in faith. This is going to be a common theme in my blogs in the future but I thought I would give it an introduction here.
For most of us the common reaction is “What?”. That was my reaction too, it seemed so counter-intuitive to everything that I had taught, but tantalisingly it offered some sweet medicine to my tired soul, tired of trusting for breakthrough’s that never came and then analysing what went wrong, the stock answer being “Well buddy you didn’t have enough faith..”
I had stubbornly white-knuckled it because I desperately needed that breakthrough, but it always led to nothing, which led to me blaming myself. I knew I couldn’t blame God because “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.” So I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Some people grow tired of blaming themselves and eventually get round to blaming God and writing him off, this wasn’t an option for me because I actually like him, but I didn’t have any answers (though I said I did).
One of my favourite authors put’s it this way “Having faith enough to doubt”. Now much of what I was taught was that faith is about certainty, in fact I believed that to be a Christian was to be certain, maybe not of everything but definitely certain of the most important things. In fact that was one of my tools I would use in witnessing, telling people that they could have more certainty in life by accepting Jesus into their lives. However one day I came across a phrase by Greg Boyd “we have made an idol of certainty”. That was like a depth charge in my life.
Obviously we have been shown what the Father is like in the face, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. However the cancer of certainty is that you never know if you have enough faith and when things don’t transpire the way you had envisioned, you get the confirmation of what you had feared. Your heart sinks.
This is the complete opposite of the relationship Jesus came to give us with the Father. As long as we make certainty the goal of our faith, we will never have a healthy relationship with God, it will always be sick and a little twisted. Rather Jesus invites us into the intimate relationship of Father to child and vice versa.It is in the gracious love and acceptance of a Father that we find some sense of security. It is only from that place that we can dare, dream, live and struggle while maintaining a healthy relationship with God that is based in reality and not wishful thinking.
Faith as certainty cannot give you this, it will actually erode your relationship, not allowing you to grow, the only way to cope with it is to deny reality or to reject him. However the security that a gracious and accepting love relationship gives, makes room for doubts as we face the reality of reality with all it’s questions, trials, victories and disappointments.
So I know that is not a very Christmasy message, but as we celebrate the God of faith and reality putting on skin and subversively entering our world as a baby all because he loves us, I wanted to give you a little gift of good news based on past reflection of this yea and also as way for things to be different, better as we look to the future.
May you have a blessed time with friends, family and our beautiful Messiah. Till next year
P.S. am more than happy to flesh out some of this stuff in the comments section or just chat about whatever.