Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dealing With Doubt

Dealing With Doubt Series

Belief and Unbelief

This past week at Fusion we started our series for this month on doubt. We looked at two stories in which doubt and faith were intermingled. The first was Mark9:14-27.
When they returned to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd surrounding them, and some teachers of religious law were arguing with them. When the crowd saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet him. "What is all this arguing about?" Jesus asked. One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, "Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won't let him talk. And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn't do it."Jesus said to them, "You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me." So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth. "How long has this been happening?" Jesus asked the boy's father. He replied, "Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him, Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.""What do you mean, 'If I can'?" Jesus asked. "Anything is possible if a person believes." The father instantly cried out, "I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!" When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. "Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak," he said. "I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!" Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, "He's dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.
Imagine being the father of this boy. You see your son constantly being tormented by these convulsions, throwing him into fire and water. You've tried everything available to you to try and heal this boy. Finally you hear of this man named Jesus who has done tons of healing miracles wherever he has gone. You go to find him but only see his disciples but you know they have done such healing works before and so you ask them. They try and fail. Brokenhearted you finally see Jesus coming along and ask him. Soon you son breaks into one of those convulsions, falling on the ground and writhing in pain. Desperate you ask Jesus to heal him but fresh in your memory is all the people you have asked that before and have failed. No question you will have a little doubt in the back of your mind and that comes out with 'if you can.' Jesus rebukes him and his response is completely honest "I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!" The truth is that even though we may love and believe in Jesus, we may still have experiences of doubt.

Biblical faith is honest and it is human. After all it was written by humans for humans. Take a look at this account in Matthew 14:22-33:
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o'clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, "It's a ghost!" But Jesus spoke to them at once. "Don't be afraid," he said. "Take courage. I am here!" Then Peter called to him, "Lord, if it's really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water." "Yes, come," Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. "Save me, Lord!" he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. "You have so little faith," Jesus said. "Why did you doubt me?" When they climbed back into the boat, the winds stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. "You really are the Son of God!" they exclaimed.
 Peter had enough faith to come out onto the water when Jesus called him and we often have faith to respond to Jesus' call on our lives initially. But then the wind and storm and waves around us kick up and doubt inevitably comes. We are human and we naturally have doubts but that does not mean we are complete failures. Even though the father had some doubt that Jesus could heal his son, Jesus still healed his son. Even though Peter soon doubted that he could stay a float, when he began to sink Jesus reached out and pulled him back up. These men and all who witnessed these miracles faith was strengthened through Jesus working in their doubt.

Here are some of the questions we discussed at Fusion in our small groups:

1. Do you find it easy or difficult to be honest with Jesus about doubts, questions, or lingering unbelief? Why or why not?
2. Do you find it easy or difficult to be honest with other Christians about doubts, questions, or lingering unbelief? Why or why not?
3. How can we make Fusion a safe place for people to talk honestly about their doubts and unbelief?

During the message we asked the youth to write down doubts they had anonymously so we could pray them through. Perhaps ask your youth some of the things they doubt and have a discussion about it.

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