Archives For faith

You know, we have a weird relationship with doubt. 

We talk a big game. We like to say that we are very accepting and open-minded toward others. But when it comes to talking about the things that are really important to us, we suddenly change our tune.

Look at how we talk about politics or faith for that matter. We are obsessed with figuring out who is in and who is out. As soon as we band together as believers, we feel the need for a new litmus test, a more stringent set of beliefs to determine who are the true believers and who are the imposters, the fakes, the frauds and saboteurs. When someone around us doubts, it feels like an attack. It makes us afraid, fearful that we might have to start doubting something that we have taken for granted. Maybe we become fearful that we have been duped. The result is that we are more polarized, divided and suspicious of one another than ever.

The truth is that doubt, the most important kinds of doubts about God, about life, about everything around us, are usually not at their heart an intellectual exercise.

Doubt is born of disappointment. 

We believed that life was this way, that God was that way, and then it turns out to not be true. We grieve the loss of this cherished belief. That is why doubt is traumatic and troubling. Our doubts about God do not usually come out of the clear blue sky. They come from some deep hurt that we are grieving. Often, people who are in doubt about their faith are not in attack mode. They are often in survival mode or defense mode.

I found a verse this weekend that I do not think I have ever paid any attention to. I wonder what would happen if we tried to live it this week.

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Some of the biggest seasons of doubt I ever experienced were the product of great loss and disappointment. What about you?

What if your church was infested?

After they burned Heretic Steve, the congregation enjoyed their monthly potluck dinner in peace.

After they burned Heretic Steve, the congregation enjoyed their monthly potluck dinner in peace.

Not infested with roaches or termites. What if your church was infested with heretics?

What if there were people who were actually inside your church, people who sat in church every Sunday, who pretended to be like you and me, but they were anything but? What if they were imposters who did not catch the “vision” of your church? What if someone was not so sure about some of the basic faith tenants that your pastor teaches?

Would you round them up?

Would you interrogate them?

Would you “bug bomb” your church to get rid of the heretics once and for all and keep the church pure and clean?

Well here’s the thing, people. Our churches are infested. And it’s up to us to decide what we are going to do about it.

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What is the point of being a Christian anyway?

Is this a picture of heaven, or a timeshare? Because the sales pitch is usually about the same.

Is this a picture of heaven, or a timeshare? Because the sales pitch is usually about the same.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately because it seems like we need a sales pitch to get people in the door. What will I get if I agree to this thing called Christianity?

Will Jesus make my life better?

Will I be a better person?

Will I get to go to heaven?

There are a myriad of promises that were made to us when we first accepted Jesus as our “personal” savior, a bunch of guarantees that we could be certain of. I don’t usually do this, but I love Micah Murray’s blog so much, if you haven’t read his Four Reasons I’m Not Going to Heavenyou should (right after you’re done here.) He’s done a great job and I’m not going to retread his points.

There are a lot of bait-and-switch jobs we do to get people to accept Jesus. They are the little Easter Eggs that we scatter around in the hopes of making Jesus more appealing. But I’ve got to think that the greatest trick that we have perpetrated, the biggest bait-and-switch of all time has got to be the certainty that if you accept Jesus, you get to go to heaven when you die.

Here’s what I mean.

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We Americans enjoy celebrating a lot of stuff.

There are literally millions of images like this on a Google search.

There are literally millions of images like this on a Google search.

Those of us who consider ourselves Christians like to talk about and celebrate God. That goes without saying.

We like to celebrate family too.

Some of us like to celebrate freedom.

Or even America itself. Many of us will celebrate America in just a couple of weeks…on Flag Day, the most important and widely celebrated holiday of national patriotism. Well, maybe not. Most of us will celebrate a lot of “American” stuff a couple of weeks after that. I don’t really know what Flag Day is for.

Here’s what’s happening though, and it might be something to think about the next time we come to a holiday or other celebration.

People can celebrate anything they want. Americans celebrate a lot of diverse values. But those of us who celebrate God, had better be extra careful.

Because God is sharing space with a lot of other things that seem to get equal billing.

Here’s what I mean.

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I always bristled at the phrase “God will never give you more than you can handle.”

Because, you know, it’s a fake Bible verse.

It’s not in the Bible. But people repeat it like it is in the Bible.

And it’s kind of ludicrous. You mean God will never give me more tragedy than I can handle? God will never let my heart be broken more times than I can handle? So God took everything away from Job because He knew Job could handle it?

It tends to make people ignore all the times in the Bible where God does give people more than they can handle, if only so people will learn to stop being self-sufficient and rely on Him.

But then I started thinking…

What if it was true?

What if we were just thinking about it all wrong and God actually does give us way more than we can handle, all the time?

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Three little words.

Three little words, spoken by Jesus at the very end of his life. I’ve been thinking about them all Easter weekend.

I imagine hardly anyone who was there that day even heard Jesus even speak these three little words. They may have been spoken just above a whisper. And only John records these words.

And even those people who did hear Jesus say it did not understand what he meant.

And ever since then, we have heard these three little words, but I’m not sure we have really believed them.

Because we know ourselves. How could those three little words be true…for us? 

So we keep working at it, trying to do things that humans have never been able to do. We try to make our redemption out of “the cross…and.” 

The cross…and baptism.

The cross…and Calvinism.

The cross…and church.

The cross…and me.

Yes, we make idols out of everything that is really good. We make idols out of everything when we place it next to the cross and say “This is why I’m saved,” or “This is what makes me a Christian.”

What if we really, really believed those three little words that Jesus spoke, three of his last words on the cross? We’d stop trying to do “the cross…and.” And we would start doing the things we were meant to do.

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By the way, this isn’t just a stock photo of a cross. My wife’s relative’s built it, overlooking a tiny town in Kansas and it’s pretty sweet. When it glows at night, it looks like a cross-shaped star in the sky.