I used to think Christians had to be perfect.
I think that hindered my coming to faith more than any other thing. For most of my life, I thought a person had to have this perfect life to know Jesus.
You had to be blissfully happy all the time.
You would never doubt God, or His will for your life.
You wouldn’t have marriage, family, or friendship troubles.
Even after coming to know Jesus, I would sometimes feel like I was posing, because there were times when I still felt down, or sad. There were times when it seemed God’s will for my life was not perfect at all, and that he might have even “had it in for me” in some way.
I never really had much luck in my relationships, either, until meeting my wife. Either before or after coming to belief.
And the truth of it all is that sometimes I still doubt God, even though my life is better now than it’s ever been.
I have an amazing family, and a wife that loves me in spite of all my stupid baggage.
I doubt when I see what the world has become, and the terrible things that happen in it—things that would break even the strongest heart.
I doubt sometimes. I am not perfect, and certainly not a perfect Christian.
I feel like if I didn’t doubt, if I didn’t question things from time to time, then I would be little more than a God automaton, wandering around praising the Lord in a monotone and handing out tracts at gas stations.
And here is the crux of it:
My doubts led me to thinking, and praying, and asking questions.
Asking, thinking and praying led me to scripture.
Scripture led me to truth.
Truth led me to Jesus, who was waiting for me.
And He is bigger than my doubts. He can and will handle my questions, and fears. He may not always give me the answer I want, and sometimes I’m still afraid, but that’s OK.
It’s OK because He is there with me, and always has been. And always will be.
What I want to say here is that I make no claim to having all the answers to your questions. I may not be able to assuage your doubt regarding God, and His will for your life.
What I want to tell you is don’t abandon your faith because of struggle, or because you doubt that a loving God exists.
Wrestle with God—Jacob did.
Ask Him questions. Ask your pastor, if you have one.
Delve into scripture with a disciple’s heart. Psalms in particular are filled with laments, and crying out to God with unimaginable pain.
MC Hammer may have been one of the cheesiest rappers of all time, but I think he had it right when he said “you’ve got to pray just to make it today.”
It’s true that we live in a fallen world, and faith is sometimes hard to come by.
So when I read about writers and speakers like Rob Bell who call people into a dialogue about things that may be controversial, I think maybe it’s a good thing. It sheds lights on subjects probably lots of people think about but don’t have the rocks to mention.
Because I believe everyone has doubts, and questions.
I think writers like Bell cause people to seek answers to those questions, and once again, I believe that’s a good thing.
I will say, though, that no writer, or pastor, or speaker can lay claim to knowing the mind of God other than how it is described in scripture, and when such men and women start putting words into the mouth of the almighty they will most likely run into a buzz saw of trouble.
I don’t know what Mr Bell says about Heaven or Hell in his new book, because I haven’t read it. I probably will read it, but with the foreknowledge that he is but a man trying to stir thought in people, and hopefully get them nearer to God. And he did stir people up—not just with this new book coming out.
In my opinion, if this or any book draws people to look into the bible, and seek knowledge about God, then it’s a good thing, because I don’t believe God’s truth can be denied when earnestly sought.
It wasn’t for me.
And if not automatically branding Bell and others like him as heretics (as so many in the blogosphere have) makes me one, too, then I guess I’ll just have to live with the label.
The only one who can make that distinction is God himself.
And that ain’t me.