When I think of John the Baptist I think of a bold, fearless, leader who had it all together. This man had one of the most important callings to serve God than anyone before his time. If anyone needed to be sure of who Jesus was, it was John the Baptist; that was his sole purpose in life. Yet after being wrongfully imprisoned John began to have doubts about Jesus. In Matthew 11:3 John asks, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Sometimes it can be tempting to say, “Come on John get it together, you of all people aren’t supposed to question who Jesus is!” Or perhaps you are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Perhaps you are thinking that John the Baptist sounds a lot like you feel. A lot of times Christians are either standing in judgment of those who doubt their faith, or instead of having faith that moves mountains, their faith is being crushed by a mountain called Doubt.
For both types of Christians the problem is a misunderstanding of the meaning of faith and doubt. Doubt can be intellectual, this type of doubt might need answers regarding the historical evidence for Jesus or whether or not the Bible is reliable. However, most doubt is emotional, this is where you keep revisiting and agonizing over doubt even after you have all the questions answered. Jesus says a very interesting thing about faith in Matthew 17:20, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” It seems that Jesus really wanted his disciples to catch the meaning here because he says it again in Luke 17:6 after his disciples pleaded with him to increase their faith. Now, I don’t know if you have ever seen a mustard seed but they are pretty tiny. It seems to me that any one that has teeny, tiny, super puny faith (like a mustard seed) will also probably have a lot of doubt. So the point of this passage is that even if your faith is really teeny, tiny, and super puny you have enough faith.
When we are born, we are born with a certain amount of muscles. It is the same with our faith. When we are born again as Christians we are born with a certain amount of faith. Now as we grow physically we don’t gain another bicep or tricep. As an adult I do not have more muscles than my children, my muscles have grown stronger with use. It is the same with my faith. Now, Jesus gives all of us a measure of faith and it seems that he expects that we will have doubts. However, he doesn’t want us to remain with mustard seed faith, but he wants that faith to strengthen. How do we strengthen our faith? Well, through the power of the Holy Spirit, through applying what the Bible tells us to do, through walking through various trials, and through doubt. Doubt??? Yes doubt can help us strengthen our faith. When doubt drags our faith muscle down, we have the opportunity of pulling our faith muscle back up. It is like spiritual weight lifting. Many of the greatest Christian scholars have used their doubt to find answers and the answers they have found not only strengthened their faith but the faith of countless others. We don’t want to wallow in our doubt but use our doubt to go to Jesus for help, and find answers. Yes, by all means ask questions and research the answers. The answers will strengthen your faith. When you have emotional doubt it is vital to take your thoughts captive. However, realize that there is a spiritual component to doubt. Strengthening your faith is a spiritual battle and must be fought spiritually as well.
Doubt needs to be understood as a human condition and not a Christian condition. You will doubt everything in life. Did I marry the right person; find the right job? Did I eat the best thing for lunch? Did I say the right thing? Does so-and-so like me? It goes on and on. Our fallen condition as humans makes us doubters. I want to encourage you with Romans 14:1, “Accept him whose faith is weak.” And again in Romans 15:1, 7, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak. . .Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” For Christians who are quick to judge remember to accept him whose faith is weak and help bear their burdens (Gal. 6:2), and allow them to ask questions. For those who doubt, Jesus still loves you and accepts you.
Erin Herbst gave her life to Jesus Christ around the age of eight and has been joyfully serving the Lord since that time. Erin is happily married and has two young children with another on the way. She has been ministering to college students since 2004, with Master Plan Ministries. As well as being a wife, mother, and minister to college students she has also earned a Master’s degree at Liberty University and is in the process of starting a Great Commission Training Center with her husband.
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