Bring it Home (May 2022)

I Have Doubts

Have you or your student ever used the phrase,  “The GOAT.” GOAT is an acronym for “greatest of all time.” In our culture we like to argue who is the GOAT in many areas, but none more than in sports. We debate over whether Michael Jordan or Lebron James is the GOAT in the NBA, or if Tom Brady or Joe Montana is the GOAT of quarterbacks in the NFL.  Are you aware that Jesus called someone the GOAT? And no, He did not claim to be the GOAT himself.
Check out what Jesus says in Matthew 11:11:
“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
Jesus calls John the Baptist the GOAT, the greatest born of woman. We have spent the last several weeks in our Wednesday gathering studying why Jesus has called John the Baptist the GOAT. What is interesting though, is that if you read earlier in the passage John the Baptist, the one Jesus calls the GOAT had doubts about his faith. Check out Matthew 11:2-3:
“And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?"
If John the Baptist(JTB as I’ll call him moving forward), the GOAT, had doubts, then should we not expect to have doubts ourselves? Having doubts and questions is not a bad thing, and it does not make us any less of a Christian. I can remember one of my Sunday School teachers telling me when I was younger that if I had doubts I wasn’t a good Christian, but this is simply not true. 

Having doubts is not bad, it’s what you do with them that is most important. We have seen many people who claim to follow Jesus leave the faith because they didn’t handle their doubts properly. Through the story of John the Baptist’s doubts I shared with the students what we can do with our doubts, and I thought it would be wise to share them here as well, so that you may continue to disciple your student as well.
Point 1- It’s Ok to Have Doubts
How many of you have ever had doubts or questions about what you believe? I have. I have moments where I lay up at night thinking is everything I’ve been taught about God really possible? When I go through something tough I start to wonder, man is it real, is it worth it? Have you ever felt that? You’re not alone, and it’s ok!

I just shared with you that JTB, later in this chapter, is called the GOAT by Jesus. Yet, here JTB is, sitting in prison and he has doubts. He’s questioning what he knew and what he had been taught. Why? Because things weren’t quite going the way he thought they would. JTB is sitting in prison, he’s going through something tough. 

What is it about going through something tough that causes us to doubt? It is super easy to believe when things are going well right. Like we can believe that God is good and that He’ll keep His promises when everything is going the way it should be, but the moment something turns and doesn’t go the way we think it should go we begin to question Him, His goodness, His plan, and even His existence. 

Consider for a moment Peter. If you read deeper into Matthew 14, after JTB is arrested, you’ll come to the story where Peter walks on water. Peter and the disciples saw Jesus walk on water, and Peter said if it is you Jesus, command me to come to you and I will. Jesus said come, and Peter got out of the boat and began walking on water. All of a sudden the storm that was raging caught Peter’s attention, and he began to fear, and he sank into the water. In that moment, when things got tough, Peter doubted, just like I did, just like JTB did, but Peter also cried out to Jesus and said Lord help me. Jesus rescued him. You see when Peter doubted Jesus for a moment when it got tough, but he also cried out to Jesus in his doubts.
Point 2- When You Doubt, Seek Jesus
When Peter doubted, he sought Jesus and Jesus rescued him. If you look at our passage, JTB, when he had his doubts, also sought Jesus. Read Matt 11:2 again. JTB had his doubts, but instead of letting his doubts lead him away from what he believed, he went straight to the master, straight to God, and said hey, I’m struggling, is what I believe true? 

Too often in our culture, and in our time, if you have doubts about something, whether it’s God, your job, or whatever, you walk away from it. There is a movement going through Christian circles called deconstruction. Deconstruction, as I have come to understand it, is when someone who has doubts begins to question what they believe. They start to break down every little thing they believe. In many cases those that are going through deconstruction don’t want to reconstruct, meaning they don’t actually want the answers, they just want to walk away.  I think some of this is because for many in my generation and generations before me, we were told if you had doubts you aren’t really a Christian. Because of this many walk away.
Tim Keller in his book The Reason for God  says this, “A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection. Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts.”
Doubts are not bad, in fact they help us to become more healthy Christians. It’s what we do with those doubts that are important. We need to follow the example of the GOAT, and take those doubts and questions to God, to Jesus.
Point 3- Wait for Jesus’ answers- Look around
As we close this story, we see that when John had those doubts, Jesus doesn’t berate or put JTB down. Instead, He answers John’s question. It may not be the answer JTB wanted, I think JTB wanted a yes or a no answer. Instead Jesus says this. Take a look at  Matthew 11:4-6:
“And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3 and said to Him, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: "[The] blind see and [the] lame walk; [the] lepers are cleansed and [the] deaf hear; [the] dead are raised up and [the] poor have the gospel preached to them."And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me."
Jesus tells John to look at what he knows about the Messiah, and what he has seen Jesus do. He does this by quoting scripture. 

When we doubt, and when we take those doubts to Jesus, we need to listen for His answer. We need to understand that that answer will come from Scripture, and it will get us to look at what God has done. When I went through my doubts two three years ago, God did the same thing to me that He did with JTB. He pointed me to His word, and showed me what He had done. He reminded me of what He had brought me through, and through His word what He had promised me. Even though things were hard at the time, and I still struggled, it gave me peace. And unlike those who have deconstructed and walked away, I was able to reconstruct what had been torn down by my doubts. 

I believe JTB had the same experience. If you jump ahead to chapter 14 in Matthew you’ll see that eventually JTB was beheaded. The story we’ve studied today occurred not too long before JTB died. I believe that JTB felt his faith in Jesus strengthened and went to his death with peace. 


To conclude this month’s post, I want to encourage you, and your student to understand that it’s ok to have doubts and questions. Let your student ask you questions about their faith, it’s an opportunity to share your faith with them. If you don’t know the answer it’s ok, direct them to ask me, Pastor Ken, or one of the youth leaders. You can also seek to find the answer by studying the Bible together. But remember these three things, it’s ok to have doubts, when you doubt ask Jesus, then wait for His answer. He will answer!

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