Things Which Challenge My Faith

By | July 5, 2012

I normally speak here as though I have Christianity all figured out. In reality I have a lot of good theory which I believe fits with the bible and what I’ve heard from certain other followers of Christ. But I can’t vouch for everything from personal experience. I’ve heard debates on whether or not doubt is good or not. In either case, I have doubts and I thought it would be good to share them. So I came up with a list of things off the top of my head which challenge my faith:

  • The fact that my prayers seem to make such little difference. I say that I believe God can do things, I just often don’t believe that he will, because he so often doesn’t seem to do anything.
  • The fact that I don’t feel like I hear much from God or experience much of God.
  • The fact that, though I’ve grown up with Christianity and have been wanting and trying to follow God all this time, I feel like I know a lot of theory but haven’t really experienced it being true. Many others similarly want to seek God but don’t find him. If God wants to be known, why does it seem so difficult to get to know him personally?
  • The fact that the bible is difficult to understand.
  • The fact that Christians say all kinds of things which someone thought up based loosely on the bible but which don’t seem to correspond to reality. (I’m guilty of this too.)
  • The fact that it seems like so many things people attribute to God can be easily explained by other means. And it seems like some believe that Christianity is just believing it was God even when it doesn’t seem to be. In other words, it’s more like a mind trick—changing what you say you believe and/or your perspective—more than there actually being anything of substance to it.
  • My friend who graduated with a degree in youth ministry but whom has only found about 18 months of part time employment in this field in over ten years of trying to find steady work in ministry.
  • My friend who married later in life, whose wife divorced him after only about a year and a half.
  • My friend who has been having serious health issues for over a year, as well as all my other friends with serious chronic health problems.
  • The people who want to be married and/or have kids but aren’t/don’t.
  • The fact that the bible seems to prohibit homosexuality, while it’s clear that most homosexuals can’t choose to change their orientation.
  • The fact that so many people don’t believe.
  • The fact that many people who aren’t following Christ are getting along okay in life, and even doing a lot of good for others and genuinely caring for them.

What about you?

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  • Bruce

    First, it is important to remember some things about God. While He is concerned about what happens to us in the next hour, day or month, He is more concerned about what happens to us and everyone else long term. He can see how what happens today impacts people 500 or a 1000 years from now and He is just as concerned about that as he is about what happens to you and me today.

    That can partly explain why we don’t see our prayers answered the way we might expect. God is looking at the very BIG picture. We see only a very tiny piece of the picture. Also, over the years I have learned some things about the kind of prayers that are more likely to be answered. In the model prayer Jesus taught us to ask for 2 things for our selves, daily bread for today (not tomorrow or next week) and forgiveness. If we ask for other things for ourselves, especially things for our pleasure and enjoyment, we will likely get a negative response. Asking God to help us earn a million dollars to give to the poor is a lot more likely to be answered positively than asking God for a million dollars. Asking according to God’s will greatly improves the chance of a positive answer. However, the answer may be a long time in coming. We like instance or at least quick answers. If we ask God for a friend to become a Jesus follower (Christian) he will not violate their free will to convert them today or next week. It may be years or even decades before there is a positive answer. Of course, having 2 or more agree in prayer significantly improves the probability of a positive response. the more God is glorified by an answer the more likely there will be a positive response to a request. If only a few Christians will ever know about a positive answer the prayer is less likely to receive a positive answer than if God’s reputation is on the line before a group of non-believers. A public prayer by a missionary in a group of non-believers for someone to be healed is likely to get a quick positive response.

    I was at least in my 40’s and probably my 50’s before I began to believe God’s Holy Spirit living in me was regularly putting thoughts in my mind. Some of these were more or less major church/Kingdom growth ideas and other were very ordinary every day things. I have found that when I follow thru on those ideas things tend to work out better than when I don’t follow thru. Pay attention to thoughts/ideas you have. Are they from God?

    God wants people to love him. but love only has meaning if it freely chosen. If God made his existence, etc. so obvious that people almost had to love Him, He would gain nothing from that.

    All the essentials in the Bible are easy to understand. Sometimes in trying to make them fit what we (Christians thru the ages) want we make them hard to understand. God didn’t command us to know but to love. The New Testament defines loving God in terms of obeying Him, keeping His commandments.

    How much God intervenes and how much He lets things run their natural course is impossible to know. My view is that He allows a lot of freedom but keeps things within His predetermined limits. He may intervene in one case and not in a very similar case. As mentioned above, I believe God gives us ideas which, when we follow thru on them result in His will being done.

    God grants people (and Satan) a large amount of freedom, partly so we can chose to love and follow Him or chose to not do so. When people (or Satan) fail to follow God bad things often happen. God’s primary interest is our long term good. He doesn’t cause bad things to happen but He allows them to happen and He can work them for our and others long term good. A parent allows a doctor to hurt their child because the parent knows that it is for the child’s long term good. We need to remember that compared to eternity our total lifespan is like less than a nanosecond compared to a million years.

    In marriage most people, including many Christians, are selfish, thinking what can I get out of this. This is what our culture says we should be concerned about. However, it is almost always true that we are happier when we try to make someone else happy than when we try to make our self happy. When Paul tells husbands to love their wives he uses the word “agape” which is not about feelings but about how a person behaves toward another person. If married couples would try to always follow Jesus’ commands to love your neighbor (spouse) as you love your self and treat others (spouse) the way you want to be treated, there would rarely be serious problems.

    Dan Davis’ testimony last Sunday is a big part of the answer to couples who want kids but can’t. It is also not unusual for a couple that has been unable to have children to have a biological child of their own soon after adopting. When a person stops focusing on themselves and starts “agape” loving other people their chance of finding a good marriage partner goes up.

    The Bible condemns sex outside a man, woman marriage, whether heterosexual or homosexual. I don’t know of any place where it talks about homosexual feelings. We can control our behavior. We also have a fair amount of control over our thinking. by controlling our behavior and our thinking we can even have a fair amount of control of our long term feelings. Neither alcoholics nor drug addicts can stop their addictions unless they really want to do so and often even then they need a support group like AA. Unfortunately there aren’t many support groups for recovering homosexuals. Should churches start such groups? Several years ago I read about a pastor who was working with a woman in an affair. She said she couldn’t stop it. He told her the next time you go to meet the man, take Jesus with you. That is what she did and it ended the affair. Just today I was reading about a life coach who was coaching a man with a marijuana addiction. While the man said he wanted to quit, the coach realized that deep down he didn’t really want to quit. So he told the man the next time he lit up a joint, before he inhaled, he was to text the coach that he had lit the joint and was about to smoke marijuana again. The next day the coach received the text message that the man was about to smoke the joint. Two minutes later the coach received another text. The man said it was no longer pleasurable and tasted horrible. Homosexuals can control their behavior. They can also follow Paul’s advise to fill “your minds and meditat[e] on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious–the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” Phil. 8:8 The Message. It won’t be easy but with God’s help regularly doing these things long term can make a big change.

    Someone has said that most people don’t have an intellectual problem with Christianity. They have a relational problem. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor and our enemy. Far too many Christians do a poor job of loving their neighbor and never think about loving their enemy.

    A lot of times the non Jesus followers that appear to have it all together and are doing many good works deep down inside know they are missing something but most of the time they deny it and try to ignore it.