Luke 24:36–49, Matthew 28:16–20, James 1:2–18, Jude 20–25
So, this guy you’ve been hanging out with for three years dies a brutal death. A few days later, he’s alive. He was dead and buried, and now alive. Must be a ghost…except they could touch the wounds and he ate. They doubted. After some more time, they meet Jesus on a mountain. They worshipped Jesus, yet they still doubted.
We all have doubts. Sadly, however, when verses such as James 1:6 are badly used, we can question our faith. Some even go so far as to lose their faith. People take such passages and twist them so that a person cannot question or be perceived to doubt. James’ warning is sound in so far as being about requesting things (such as wisdom) from God, but false expectations of God. In other words, don’t be surprised when God doesn’t answer your prayer and walk away from the faith.
The grave danger is that if we take James’ words without a large measure of grace and love, people will truly walk away. Jude’s words are to be gentle with doubters. Imagine a person who suffers with depression, and in the depths of depression doubts. Would you cast them out? What about a person in the midst of grief who is crying out to God? Will you shame them for doubt in the midst of their pain?
What about the person who was raised as a non-believer and/or strict secular scientist? If they struggle with believing as it conflicts with their growing up, will you shun them and tell them they are unbelievers and should disappear?
In our world, we should actually be encouraging doubt, or perhaps a better phrasing would be questioning. The world as it is needs a lot more questions asked. There may not be answers, but often when we ask questions aloud, the doubt and despair that can go with them loses much of its power.
Last, but not least, often those that seek to silence the doubt and questions of others are those who have the deepest fears. When those fears remain buried, faith, love, and hope can easily be lost in a flash.
1) Do you ever doubt or question your faith? Do you feel ashamed? Why?
2) What can other Christians do to support you when you question? What can you do when Christians voice their own doubts?
3) Jesus asked his followers about the why of their doubts but did not seem to diminish them because of it. Why does it appear that James does? How do you balance that with Jude?