My Struggles as a Christian
Is it normal for a Christian to doubt? I asked myself this all the time. I was raised part Lutheran and part Catholic. I have been going to church since I can remember. I have been in church leadership position since I was 12 years of age. Of course during my wildest and most rebellious time, I was too lazy to get up in the morning and to go to church after a Saturday night out dancing and drinking. But I came back. And for years I have been a faithful attendee and leader at Christian events and organizations even so my brain is full of doubt.
I was taught not to be a hypocrite. The fear that I am one of the biggest ones is driving me crazy. I want to say as I do and do as I say. Doing the “right” thing, at all costs, becomes increasingly difficult for me. It becomes progressively tougher to interact with my fellow Christian friends.
Finally, at 41 years of age I decided that I will not have a significant leadership position in any church/organization anymore until I have this Jesus “thing” all figured out. But what if God exists? What if the Bible is true? Will God forgive me?
The Story of Doubting Thomas
God has certainly the capability to forgive me as he forgave Thomas. Thomas was a part of Jesus’s inner circle. When Jesus appeared to the disciples after his death Thomas was not present. But the others told Thomas about the incredible resurrection. Thomas of course doubted. Who wouldn’t? He said unless he puts his hands in Jesus wounds he won’t believe. Jesus then appeared again and commanded Thomas to do just that. Thomas immediately replied: “My Lord and My God“. (John 20:24-28) From the little we know it seems to me that Thomas was a fact-driven fellow. Way earlier in the story Thomas asked Jesus for direction in which Jesus replied:” I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”(John 14:4-6) But he also was a loyal kind of guy. In Lazarus story Thomas encouraged the other disciples to go with Jesus, so they may die with him. (John 11:14-17) The most significant Bible entry about Thomas is, however, that he was also called Didymus. (John 11:15-17) The translation of “Thomas” and “Ditymus” both mean twin. Nobody knows Thomas twin. I agree with the academics and translations. Because, I suppose that I could be Thomas twin. My opinion is that Thomas acted quite reasonable. And, he was still in Jesus’s crew.
Fewer Blessings for Doubters
(John 20:29) “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus replied to Thomas. This statement would imply that blessings only come to people who believe. Peter walked on water. When he doubted in this ability he started to sink. (Matthew 14:31) According to Jesus a mountain will throw itself in the sea if I demand it with faith. It’s doubtful. And, a fig tree lost its power to produce fruit after Jesus commanded that he won’t bear fruit anymore. (Matthew 21:18-22) It seems if I believe long enough the truth will be given to me. (Mark 11:24) “Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” I can understand this in my role as a sales person a little bit. If I asked in confidence for the sale I get it. If I doubt I won’t. But how about the millions of faithful people who pray years after years for healing of their marriage, health and relationships with no response? Can we honestly assume that they don’t have faith enough? I think not.
Embracing the Doubter
(Jude 1:22) “Be merciful to those who doubt“. This is a direct quote from the Bible. Sadly, I don’t think this happens a lot. I have made my doubts public and yet I get belittled, berated, accused and laughed at by fellow Christians. I have prayed many times that the truth will reveal itself, but yet my doubts have gotten stronger and stronger the older I became. I understand the sentiment of Mahatma Gandhi:
“Jesus is ideal and wonderful, but you Christians – you are not like him.”
I rarely see the love of Christ on my Facebook timeline nor do I see it in the Christian groups I belong too. I don’t see it in the Christian news. I don’t see it in the way we treat people with different believes, sexual orientations, races, religions or cultures. I hardly see Christ anymore.
Calling it Quits
James described me so beautifully in James 1:6 “…because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind“.
That is exactly how I feel and how I have operated and led my women’s group in the past year. This behavior can’t be good for any type of Christian (servant) leadership. April 22, 2014 will be my last day as acting president of “Protestant Women of the Chapel” (PWOC) on Hill Air Force Base. My hypocrisy will be lifted.