Can I really ask that....
Can I ask that & What do you think?
As our amazing team of volunteer youth leader work with with our students here at Shepherd of the Hills it has become increasing clear that although student culture and student values are constantly changing the questions that they are asking about faith are not. Do you really believe that? Did Jesus really do that? What about those people, does God really love those people too? Ultimately, I believe that they are are asking. Can I ask that? The questions they asking the leader are honestly about them and for them. They ask “Am I really allowed to doubt”. How big is God’s love and is there room for my faith and my doubt to exist at the same time?
Parents call me pretty regularly to let me know that their little Timmy is doubting God and what should they do? It often goes like this their son/daughter comes home from a friends house (whose family practice a different brand Christianity) and so Timmy starts asking Mom and Dad some pretty pointed questions about what you believe (hopefully someday they will believe too) but Timmy’s parents do not feel they have strong answer for these “dangerous questions” you need to talk to Pastor Mike. I love talking and listening to students as they grow into and develop a lasting faith. Timmy’s parents send them to me to “answer their questions”. In reality all I do is to help them make room in their faith for doubts and questions that may never get satisfactory answers. I say I don’t know a lot and often reflect the questions back to student with a playful What do you think?
As adults I want you to remember that you also have had seasons of doubt growing up too and still have portions of those doubt with you. Doubt is not a threat to faith. I know too many people feel that if they ever expressed their doubts they would excommunicated from the church of their family. I want to let you know that honest doubt is often a sign post along the path to a much deeper faith. Scripture is full of stories about doubt Look at the Psalm 88, Look at James 1, look at the story of Thomas. All struggled with with questions. Doubt is real but doubt does not always need answers to be satisfied. Doubt often just wants presence. Doubt often just needs to know that they are not alone. People doubting want to know that you are with them and that you still love them even if you do not have the “right theological answer” to the questions they are asking.
I remember Mark and Cheryl Eschof who spoke into my life during a particularly doubty (is that even a word?) and violent patch in my upbringing. I asked them how could a God of “Love” allow so many awful things to be happening in my home... Now Mark and Cheryl are two of the most Christ centered and biblicaly literate people I have ever been blessed enough to know as a teen. I thank God for them and the true love of Christ they brought into my life. As I poured out my heart and doubts to them hoping for an answer that would make it all make sense and be better..... the answer they gave me was oddly comforting.
They said “I don’t know” and I’m glad you asked.... They did not give me some new theology, they did not give me lecture on God’s design for suffering in our world. Their answer was honest and allowed them to enter into my world of doubt and concern and journey with me. It was like like they knew that doubt does not always need an answer but needs companion who has traveled that road before.
So when your students start asking you the harder questions of faith ( and they will ask you harder questions of faith soon) be confident with your “I do not know” and ask them "what do they think" and begin a journey with them. You will be glad you took this trip with them.
True Student Ministries
True exists to help students find and grow in their faith in Jesus Christ