Wednesday, February 22, 2012


As I've been striving to build an authentic life on the foundation God laid with my decision in early January, I've been noticing something kind of alarming on my second trek through the Bible. I made it through pretty smoothly in ten or eleven months the first time, but I've been making much slower progress this time. All these passages keep jumping out and rubbing me the wrong way! Before was like cruising with an oiled bike on nice pavement, this time it feels like crawling through dense underbrush. Or thumbtacks. A month ago 2 Chronicles 18 (also 1 Kings 22) sent me into another faith crisis for a few days. When I found myself continuing to pray to a God who logically I no longer trusted to be truthful, I truly realized there was more to my faith than a set of facts I believed--it was intimate knowledge of the Person of God and trust that couldn't be broken nearly so easily. Rather than denounce God, I was willing to stay with Him and trust that there He really is good, and that there is more to Him than I will ever know.

I still don't have an answer about that passage, but it's not the most important thing to me anymore. It was good practice for more passages I keep running into lately. Who ever thought getting through the Psalms could be so hard? King David, pre-Bathsheba incident, is starting to seem like an arrogant, self-righteous prick (see Psalm 26 among others). Psalm 32 got me confused for a while when it seemed like David was preparing to lecture God, though it's more likely a case of missing quotation marks. Even the language, the figures of speech, the structure are strangely hard for me; I definitely can't just tear through it like I did the first time.

Yet somehow I'm not terribly troubled that there are all these parts of the Bible and Christianity that I'm having trouble accepting. Because there is a difference between rejecting something and wanting, but failing, to fully believe it. There's a difference between me wrestling with these tough passages and an atheist reading them for ammunition with which to mock Christians.

The New Testament almost always uses one word to mean doubt: διακρινω (diakrinō). It also means to decide, determine, or contend/struggle. This seems to describe what I'm going through pretty well. I'm fighting to believe in a way deeper than just saying "yes" to a list of things. I'm fighting to make my faith my own. And these doubts don't mean I'm going backwards. They are the manifestations of the parts of me that are still hostile to God and want nothing to do with Him. They have always been there, previously hidden, influencing me to interpret and distort Christianity through a lens so it avoiding touching them. Now they're out in the open and I'm willing to let God work with me to deal with them.

To expand on a thought I had at small group last night, God is helping me make the choice to fully believe in Him. I've already signed the (metaphorical) contract, made the commitment, but we're poring over the fine print. Looking at all the difficult truths of Christianity and accepting them in a shallow, too-easy way--"Oh, okay, praise Jesus!"--is not making this choice for yourself, but forfeiting it in exchange for surface-level obedience. Yet even as you seem to be living a fine and dandy Christian life, the rebellious part of you that creates all these doubts is still down there, at work beneath the surface, unworried by how holy you seem to the believers around you. Admitting I have a long way to go and dropping the facade is among the first steps to actually being holy. (This is starting to remind me of that crazy seeds-and-shells post I made the night all this craziness started happening)

Don't pretend everything is okay if it's not. God has a map for bringing you from where you're at to perfection in Him, but the terrain won't always be easy. On the voyage of belief, it's okay to have doubts.

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