I follow your ten thousand posts a day and want to first say thank you for shining a light. You do an excellent job of answering questions according to the Bible and also out of your informed wisdom. A man like you is needed in this generation. Ps. John I was wondering, if the disciples got to see Jesus, and walk with Him and know Him so closely and yet still struggled so much in their faith, what hope do I ever have of kicking my doubts and truly igniting my flame for Christ? I feel stuck.
Hey my dear friend, thank you so much for your kindness, and please allow me to point you here:
You know, you’re exactly right on when you say the disciples struggled in their faith — and that’s a huge clue to our faith journey today. While I would never promote anything less than a vibrant, robust, thriving sort of faith, I also know that God has room for the doubters and strugglers and up-and-down travelers. I’m talking about people like Peter and David and Moses and Esther and Martha, who didn’t get it right every time and had very open frustrations about God.
One of the most important convictions I ever had was knowing that the disciples doubted the divinity of Jesus all the way to the very end. At times they had a fleeting grip on who Jesus was, but when he was crucified, they all fled and hid in their homes and denied ever knowing him. It’s understandable. They didn’t expect Jesus to end up crucified, and they didn’t want to be crucified with him either. None of his disciples were waiting around the tomb expecting the resurrection, and even when Mary first saw the empty tomb, she only asked, “Where did they take the body?”
I don’t know if we can completely lift the struggle of the disciples as a blueprint for today, because certainly we’re not called to follow the “examples” of anyone in the Bible except Jesus (to those who want to “be like David,” I guess you need to cheat on your neighbor’s wife and kill her husband to cover up the pregnancy). Yet I’m encouraged, not by the failure of the disciples, but by the grace that Jesus had for them in their failure.
Jesus specifically wants Peter to know about his resurrection (Mark 16:7), because Peter had failed so hard. Jesus shows up to Thomas and exhorts him to see he has really risen. Jesus grants a guy like Peter to be the first megachurch pastor and a murderer like Saul to become Paul, a tireless missionary and author of half the New Testament.
The Scriptures have a clear theme that our doubts never disqualify us from embracing Christ and flexing out His mission. Instead it’s very possible that our idea of “on-fire-for-God” has been skewed by the perpetual weekly rock-show of Sunday emotionalism, and so we feel guilty when we haven’t topped ourselves from last week’s hype. I sympathize with churches that want us to connect this way because it’s a legitimate facet of our faith, but I don’t think our faith is supposed to be on-fire the way we’ve defined it today.
I think a faith that keeps serving amidst trials and temptations and severe dry seasons is so much more attractive than the loudest voice in the front pew. And maybe we don’t have to measure ourselves on the amount of our faith, as if we are filling a bucket every week, but rather measure ourselves on the one who is constantly pouring out His grace for us.