By: Jennie Scott
My faith looks like a drama in three parts.
Act 1: Questions.
Does God see me? Can he hear me? How could he possibly love me? Am I really going to heaven? Is the rapture going to happen tonight? I think I sinned again — am I going to hell now? What happens to people in countries who don’t know about Jesus? Can I listen to music that isn’t Christian? Does God want me to be a teacher? Does God love women as much as men? Does God tune me out when I repeat my prayers? Do I have to understand everything in the Bible? Am I a bad person if I don’t read my Bible every day?
Act 2: Certainty. (A short-lived phase.)
God sees me. He knows me. He loves me. Yes, I’m going to heaven. No, we don’t know when the rapture is happening. No, I’m not going to hell because I sinned again. Yes, I can listen to music that isn’t Christian. God wants me to love him more than he wants me to focus on one singular career path. Yes, God loves women as much as men. No, he doesn’t tune me out when I repeat prayers. No, I don’t have to understand everything in the Bible. No, I’m not a bad person if I don’t read the Bible every day.
Act 3: More Questions. (My current phase, and one I hope I’ll never leave.)
How can we reconcile a loving God with one who not only allowed but ordered the deaths of firstborn children during the Passover? Are people in other parts of the world going to hell because they had the misfortune of being born in non-Christian areas? If so, how much of the responsibility for their damnation is mine? Is it God or only Paul who doesn’t want women to preach? Can I love God and not love certain parts of Scripture? How can evangelical Christians ignore the reprehensible words and actions of politicians who claim to follow Jesus? Should Christian writers and speakers discuss politics in public forums? How can we live in a country where men and women still aren’t paid equally for doing the same work? Where did we get the impression that following Jesus would simplify our lives and eliminate our struggles? If I’m not currently experiencing persecution, am I not doing enough for Christ? How does God feel about homosexuality? Should every Christian foster or adopt children? What does it look like to follow Jesus and have his heart for the refugees flooding into the United States? Why is it still so hard, sometimes, to pray? Why do I still feel, sometimes, like God couldn’t possibly love me? Why am I still tempted, sometimes, to try to earn God’s approval? Why is it that the longer I follow Jesus, the less I know for certain?
I’m convinced that a faith full of certainty and void of doubt is a dishonest faith. How can we, as limited human beings, fully understand the mysterious God and have no questions about what he has said and done?
It’s just not possible.
A person who says she understands all of Scripture and has no questions is a person who hasn’t done much thinking. Faith doesn’t exclude reason. It doesn’t prohibit questions. It doesn’t ask you to leave your brain at the altar.
I have learned that I can be a person full of love for God and with a desire to follow Jesus who still questions what that looks like. I can simultaneously trust God and not understand all he says. I can believe in his goodness and still question why he asked Abraham to kill his own son.
The minute we stop having questions for our God and about our faith is the minute we choose to become deaf and dumb. The culture around us has questions, too, and if we don’t wrestle with our own, we can never engage with them in theirs. If we become to deaf to their questions, we become numb to their need. If we haven’t wrestled to find answers to our questions, our mouths become dumb to help provide answers for other questioners.
We question to know God better. We wrestle to receive his blessing. We engage in our faith so it becomes true.
Lord, increase my questions if it means you will also increase my faith.
Article supplied with thanks to Jennie Scott.
About the Author: Jennie is married with two children who shares lessons from her own unexpected journeys and encouragement you might need for yours.