I love it when people have questions about God, faith and life. Not because the answers are easy to find, but because it generally means people care. They are really thinking. I was talking with a young guy this week about questions. He said since he started "seeking" and coming to church he has had questions about the exclusivism of the Gospel (see my post here). He told me he was praying about it, reading and thinking, but was still struggling. I told him that was a good place to be! Wrestling with these issues honestly is a learning exercise. But I should have saidmore, and I intend to in a few days.
I should have explained that his struggle should expand. More than wrestling with the doctrine, he should see this as a wrestling with God. Beyond questioning the Bible (scary enough for some), he should go on to question God directly. I think the church is usually afraid of such thoughts, and advice like this might sound dangerous to many. In fact it is dangerous. It can lead to more questions, but it can also lead to answers. For those truly seeking I believe it is the latter that typically is the result. But many Christians aren't encouraged to ask, question or struggle. We are told to know our lines, remember our verses. Just agree with the leaders and everything will be okay. It's as if we would rather Christians just take the word of another, benefit from another's struggle and be satisfied with that. But real growth and faith are found in the struggle. Sure it's dangerous. But at least it's real and connects a man to God, instead of a talking point. By the way, it's also biblical.
Abraham bargained (argued?) with God over the condemnation of Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of his loved ones. Jacob wrestled with God until he received a blessing. Moses questioned God's wisdom in choosing a weak speaker like himself to be a leader. Judas, son of James, questioned Jesus about the issue of exclusivism. And Jesus Himself brought his question to the Father when he was in agony over his approaching affliction. Do you see the process? They all encountered God, had some real concerns, doubts, and questions and they unashamedly questioned him. In so doing, each of them was brought closer to God. He condescended to interact with them, to teach them.
So, questioning God is not the path of unbelief. It is not a move away from the truth. Athol Dickson wrote,
It takes more faith to ask than it takes to fear the asking. It takes faith to be ready for whatever answer comes, and faith to persevere with more questions if the answer is not understood. Asking an honest question means being ready to change in response to the answer, and short of martyrdom, change may be the ultimate act of faith.
The Gospel According to Moses (pg. 19)
"Asking is not doubting. It is trusting." he wrote. Questioning is not an act of arrogance, but is an admittance of our own ignorance. Our questions, when brought to God himself, bring us into an encounter with him. One that changes us.
To my friend who is questioning - stay at it. Keep praying, reading, thinking and struggling. Talk about it. That is part of what will make your faith real and strong.