Summary: How to handle those times when you struggle with doubts.
Surviving Your Bout With Doubt 9-10-06
Intro. Last week we affirmed the truth that there’s nothing like the church when the church is working right. But we all know that there are times when the church isn’t working right. Sometimes we make wrong choices and other times we make poor decisions. Let’s go ahead and admit it, the church makes its share of mistakes. But when we do, then we need to own up to it and correct the problem as soon as possible. So that’s what I want us to do this morning. I want us to correct a problem that’s plagued the church for years. It’s the problem that surrounds the issue of doubt. Now hear me well – doubt is not the problem. The real problem is how the church handles doubt.
So how do most churches handle doubt? Believe it or not, we normally do it by addressing doubt with bumper sticker theology. Have you ever seen this one? “The bible says it, I believe it and that settles it!” Now that may sound good to church people, but it frustrates the stew out of doubters. It frustrates them because they know Christians just like you and me have some of the same questions and same doubts they’re struggling with. Honest doubters are looking for answers, so when they’re confronted with that “take or leave it” mentality from xians, then they’re normally turned off to the church and they rarely come back.
This morning I want you to hear that our church is a safe place to deal with your doubts. I think Lee Stroble had it right when he said there are 3 kinds of people in the church. Those who are struggling with doubt right now, those who have no doubts now but will struggle with them in the future. And those who have no doubts and will never have any doubts because they are basically brain dead. If you are serious about your faith then there’s going to come a time you’ve got unanswered questions about your circumstances, about the world situation or maybe why God no longer fits neatly into your little man-made box. Doubt doesn’t mean you’ve lost your faith, it simply means you’re trying to figure out how your faith works in this chaotic and sinful world. So instead of being afraid of doubt, why don’t we let God use our doubt as a means of making us stronger in our faith and drawing us closer to Himself.
James Dobson tells the story about a lady who was watching a butterfly as it struggled to work its way of the cocoon. After a while the lady began to feel sorry for the butterfly, so she got a tiny little knife and carefully cut the cocoon just enough to help the butterfly work its way out. And sure enough, the beautiful butterfly got out and stretched out its wings and began to flutter for just a second. Then w/o any reason at all it fell to the ground and was soon dead. This lady discovered too late that the struggle to get out of the cocoon is what makes a butterfly’s wings strong enough to fly. So w/o the struggle the butterfly has no life. I’ve got a feeling that God uses doubt in many of our lives like that cocoon. He forces us to struggle with the realities of our faith, not because he wants us to fail but because he wants us to spread our wings and fly.
This may sound paradoxical but I believe its true. The one place where doubters ought to feel the most secure and comfortable is in the church. Let me show you why I say that. The bible says in Jude 1:22 “Be merciful to those who doubt.” In other words, don’t kick me when I’m down. Help me up and point me in the right direction so I can find the answers I’m looking for. That’s what we’re going to do today. I’m going to give you 3 steps to help you survive your bout with doubt.
I. Acknowledge your doubts
If you’ve grown up in the church then you may have felt the pressure to ignore your doubts or pretend that they’ve not there or at least keep them hidden in some secret place so nobody else finds out about them. But if you do that long enough those doubts will come back to bite you. They’ll always be a weak spot in your faith. So you’ve got to deal with your doubts!
I know that some of you feel like acknowledging your doubts would automatically disqualify you from God’s service or at the very least it would make you a little less spiritual than other xians. But that’s simply not the truth. Raising questions and having some doubts is never the sign of a weak faith…but rather it’s the sign of a growing faith. Did you know there was a time in Billy Graham’s life when he questioned the truthfulness of the Bible? His faith was shaken and he began to have some doubts. So what did he do? He acknowledged his doubts, he got some help, he trusted God and of course the rest is history.