Friday, February 12, 2016

Dealing With Doubt Series

Doubt as a Pathway of Discipleship

Last night at Small Groups we continued our series on dealing with doubt by looking at how doubt can either stunt faith or grow faith. We did this by looking at "doubting" Thomas in John 20:24-29
One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he replied, "I won't believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side." Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. "Peace be with you," he said. Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don't be faithless any longer. Believe!" "My Lord and my God!" Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, "You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me."
When we say the verb "doubt" we can mean many different things because there are many ways to approach doubts. We can be closed-minded or open minded; have blind faith or be healthy skeptical or antagonistically skeptical; we could just ignore the tough questions and accept the unknown.

Thomas was honest about his faith. He voiced that he needed to be convinced, after all we are talking about someone rising from the dead! We could view his doubt as a healthy skepticism. He did not want to live with the faith of someone else, he wanted his own experience of Jesus. However, doubt can keep us from developing faith. If we are close-minded then we really aren't doubting cause we have made up our mind to not believe. If we have blind faith then we have a flimsy facade of faith that lacks depth or our own personal experiences. But if our faith, like Thomas', is open-minded and seeking truth, then our doubt can actually strengthen our faith.  

We all face difficult questions, tough issues, or seasons of doubt. Rather then letting this become a brick wall in our faith we can be honest with Jesus and pray the words that the father spoke to Jesus in Mark 9:24 "Help me with my unbelief!"

The questions we discussed this week were:
1.     What is your initial reaction to this passage?
2.     How would you define or describe the following approaches to doubt and belief?
a.     Close-minded unbelief
b.     Open-minded questioning
c.      Blind faith
d.     Healthy skepticism
e.     Antagonistic skepticism
f.      Accepting the unknown
g.     Ignoring tough questions
3.     How would you describe Thomas’ doubt? Is it lack of faith? Healthy skepticism? Something else? Explain.
4.     If Thomas had believed based on others’ experience rather than being convinced himself, what kind of faith would he have had? Why?
5.     What choices, actions, or mindset make a difference between letting doubts be a roadblock or using doubts as a faith-building journey?
6.     How can journeying through doubt or difficult questions lead to deepened faith? When have you experienced this in your own life?

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