Doubting your faith?
What to do when you're unsure about the truth of Christianity.
You may be asking ...
- Is the Bible really God's Word?
- Did Jesus really rise again?
- Does Heaven really exist?
- What if Christianity is wrong?
If you're like me, you've probably asked yourself one of these questions (or something similar) at some point. And when you begin to doubt the truth of what you believe, it's scary. You worry that you're just deceiving yourself about God, Jesus and the Bible. And you feel like your world may just fall apart if none of it is true.
I've asked every question you can think of over the last 20 years of being a Christian. It took me a while to get all the answers, but I eventually realised that it is all true. God does exist, the Bible is reliable and Jesus really did rise from the dead! But because I know doubting is tough to go through, I want to help you with four actions from author Mike Licona that will help you examine your doubts and come out with an even stronger faith.
Action 1: Recognize that doubting is normal
Abraham was a doubter. John the Baptist was a doubter. Moses was a doubter. And so were many more people in the Bible!
If Abraham and John the Baptist can experience doubt while enjoying God's favor, then it appears that God understands our emotional makeup and is patient with us. Many Christians never experience doubt. However, for those of us who do, it is comforting to know we are in good company with others like Abraham and John the Baptist. Doubters are not second class citizens in God's kingdom!
"Dude! That may work for those who heard from God and who saw Jesus' miracles. But it doesn't help me much, since I didn't see His miracles." I understand. All I've said thus far is the first action in dealing with doubt: Recognize that doubting is normal.
Action 2: Recognize that good evidence exists supporting the truth of Christianity
Although we can't climb into a time machine, travel back in time, and witness Jesus' miracles, we have very strong historical evidence that the greatest of His miracles actually occurred: His resurrection.
Now, if Jesus rose from the dead, Christianity is certainly true. "But," you may think, "His resurrection is reported in the Bible. How can I know the Bible is true? Must I just accept it purely on faith?" Gary Habermas knows more on this subject than anyone. He gave me a brief tour of the historical evidence for Jesus' resurrection. I was comforted to know there was actual evidence. In fact, Jesus' resurrection is unparalleled in terms of strong evidence for confirming any other religion or worldview.
Action 3: Recognize that absolute certainty is an unreasonable expectation
Some Christians live with faith without ever doubting. That's great. But some of us are so wired that we are incapable of that. A few years ago, I had one of those "Ah-ha!" moments that has been life-changing. I realized that my faith is just one of many things I second-guess. I doubt many decisions lonnnnngggg after I've made them. This is something I've done from childhood, and I hate it. We're not just talking about important decisions, such as whom I married. I sometimes find myself reconsidering, re-reconsidering, and re-re-reconsidering unimportant decisions, such as items I've purchased: a watch, a car, a bottle of cologne. This recognition alone has been a tremendous help to me in understanding why I doubt: It's the way I'm wired. For me, absolute certainty is an unreasonable expectation. So, I'm learning to live contently with reasonable certainty.
Action 4: Recognize that faith is more than a feeling or being without doubt
It's a commitment. A man once came to Jesus and asked Him to heal his son who was demon-possessed. He believed (after all, he came to Jesus for help) but asked Jesus to help him with his unbelief (Mark 9:24). He was relying on Jesus to heal his son. Peter walked on water and began sinking when he became frightened by the waves and doubted (Matthew 14:28-31). Yet, it was Peter who was out of the boat while the others watched from inside it.
For the Christian, faith is entrusting oneself to Christ alone for salvation. There's no hedging the bet by also being a Muslim and a Hindu. Being a Christ follower means that when I'm faced with a moral decision, I choose the route taught by Jesus. I know that I could take the other route if Christ was not raised. But I obey Jesus because I believe Him. I may still have lingering doubts. But the faith I have wins and determines my behavior in the life of faith.