When Seeing (Still) Isn’t Believing




“I’m afraid that I am me and I have no say in it. I dare to be self-aware when ignorance is bliss.” 

-Showbread




I have a confession to make.

Perhaps it’s a natural byproduct of depression, but I’m a doubter. I doubt other people’s abilities to follow through on their promises and my ability to follow through on my own. I doubt the truth and sincerity of things people say. I doubt my resolve in following Christ and the persistence of His love for me. I doubt the things I’ve studied for three years. I doubt the so-called relentless “grace” that the evangelical Christian subculture often seems to over-hype. I cock my head and raise an eyebrow when someone justifies a choice or an action by saying, “I felt peace about it.” 

I’ve seen enough experiential “evidence” in my own life to justify my longing to have faith in God but often question my reasons for believing. I find myself trembling on the edge of disbelief more often than not, “searching” more than “certain,” asking for answers that I’ll probably never receive in this lifetime. I sometimes avoid talking to certain people simply because they talk so arrogantly about their beliefs and why they “know” that they’re right. Sometimes my stomach just can’t handle another debate about creation vs. evolution, free will vs. predestination, cessation vs. continuation, or any of the numerous other topics that people dance in circles around. Because when it comes down to it, I’m skeptical by nature and cannot hide it anymore.

I’m skeptical.

I grow tired of people assuming they know me when their presumptions regarding my faith and resolve are probably wrong. The truth is, I don’t believe in a God who satisfies the emotions or the intellect. I don’t believe in a God who fits into a box of understanding. I can’t justify it when there are so many Christians with so many different conclusions that they come to by the same word. Each will claim to have the (or a) correct interpretation of scripture, but it only leaves me skeptical. Who, if anyone, is right? Augustine? Luther? Calvin? Piper? Wright? Lewis? Sproul? Moody? Chan? Cottrell? Driscoll? Reese? Moore? I shake my head and walk away from the table.

I grow tired of sitting in chapel and listening to the same words repeated over and over. I grow tired of being asked to agree to lifestyle guidelines that I don’t agree with. When I see content and formatting being changed to satisfy the donors who fund this college, my mind flashes to Galatians 1:10 and I question the motives of those on the board of directors. And when I’m urged not to question but to “simply trust”, I question the person urging me. Perhaps life was just easier when I was more naive, but I cannot pretend as though I can’t see what’s going on. 

I question everything around me.

I’m not one to intentionally step on toes, but I’m not here to please anybody. I can’t pretend that just because I’m a bible college senior I have it all together. The truth is, I don’t. I don’t have the passionate zeal that I used to and half the time I wonder why I follow Jesus at all. Just as much as I question why I follow Jesus, I question the Jesus I’m following. Am I following the real Jesus, or am I following some 21st century idea of Jesus diluted by two millennia of theologians, polluted by postmodern philosophical ideals and catered to those with the funds to line the preacher’s pockets and fill the institution’s coffers? More importantly, how am I to know the difference?

I’ve abandoned the Jesus I was handed in youth groups under the conclusion that what I was given was really just a fluffy idea under the label of Jesus designed for the purpose of behavior modification. I’ve left the image-obsessed tabernacle of name-it-and-claim-it, feel-good preaching designed solely for the purpose of keeping the business of the church economically stable. I grew tired of seeing demonic activity passed off as workings of the Holy Spirit. I grew tired of false teachers forcing and coercing false phenomena and passing them off as genuine miracles.

I grew tired of this so-called “Christianity.”

But ultimately I’m concerned. There is a longing inside every person for something more, and I’m no exception. I want to follow Christ, but I’m afraid of subscribing to yet another idea that will only lead me to live again by what I see. If I am to walk by faith and not by sight, am I to trust that what I see is not what is? Or am I to have faith that what is is not what will be? Too often I forget that the hope Jesus promised to his followers is not for this life. I find myself looking for an anesthetic when Jesus promised that this life will bring troubles and pain. 

Perhaps I’m too self-aware for my own good, delving deep into parts of my mind that I suspect may be best left untouched. But what I’ve discovered is that once something is known, it cannot be un-known. Each new thing I discover affects the rest of my being in ways that I can’t entirely explain. It leaves me trying to reconcile fact with faith and once in a while I come up short. Sometimes I need to question and re-assess things I had previously accepted as true in hopes that I’m not just believing blindly. Sometimes, I find myself doubting, trembling on the edge of disbelief, searching, asking for answers that I’ll probably never receive in this lifetime. Sometimes, I find it hard to believe.

I’m not afraid to admit that.

 
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