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Honesty However Ugly

• Greg Boyd

The Bible is full of characters that are dealing with significant issues of faith and doubt. In this sermon, Greg takes a look at the model of strength tester faith and shows how God doesn’t want a people who won’t be honest with him

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The topic of faith and doubt is everyone every Christian should revisit from time to time. There is a common view of faith that we believe is wrong. We call this view of faith the strength-tester model of faith. It resembles the carnival game where a person swings the sledgehammer and hits the target to make the puck fly towards the top and ring a bell.

We call it this type of faith because it is all about certainty. The stronger you feel in your certainty will raise the faith puck towards your goal. If your goal is being healed, you had better swing that certainty hammer as hard as you can. Two weeks ago, Greg argued that this view was idolatrous, putting certainty of beliefs at the center of faith instead of Jesus. Today, he presented two more arguments against this view, and next week, he will give the last.

The first argument is that this view is irrational. To actually believe in something, we must wrestle with whether it is true or not. We don’t simply hear something and hold it with 100% certainty as true. For instance, when you go and buy a car, the salesman will tell you that the car runs great with nothing wrong with it. This may be true, but you would be wise to test his statement. If you’re good with cars, you can check all the machinery to see if it runs properly. If you’re like Greg, you can hire someone to check all the parts of the car out for you. Yet, in some Christian circles, questioning your faith is unheard of and blasphemous.

The second argument against this view is that it presupposes a non-Christ like picture of God. As Greg shared, he was in a prayer meeting where a woman shared two verses about being certain about what you prayer for and it will be yours. They were praying for healing for their friend who was sick. Greg got a picture of God who was holding this sick person as ransom. Either these people needed to pray with 100% certainty or God would let the person die. This has caused a ton of problems for people in this world, because if their friends/family are not healed then it is either their fault for not being certain or God’s fault for not following through on his promise. This picture is not what we see of Jesus.

Jesus did not walk around in his lifetime giving people a theological test. Instead, Jesus met people where they were and wrestled with how they were feeling about God. And God did the exact same thing throughout the Old Testament. Jacob wrestled, Abraham pushed back as did Moses, and many other prophets and faith filled people of the Old Testament pushed back on God. They questioned their faith, and God did not punish them for it. Rather, he blessed them because of their willingness to wrestle with Him.

Biblical faith isn’t about trying to make ourselves certain of things that we can’t be certain of. We are not called to look pious, sound pious, engage in holy behaviors, or have all the right answers. Instead, we are called to a commitment to be faithful in spite of uncertainty, and the foundation of faithfulness is honesty. God wants us to be truthful with Him and at all costs.

True faith isn’t trying to convince yourself you’re right. It isn’t avoiding hard facts, tough questions or suppressing doubts. It’s being real about the ugliness of what is real and letting God know how you feel about it. It’s of wrestling with God, not just piously resigning yourself to whatever you think God is doing.

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Topics: Defense of Christian Faith, Faith, Fear

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6 thoughts on “Honesty However Ugly

  1. Joann says:

    Ok so after listening to this, I would like to know what is “faith”, bling faith”, “leap of faith” and “beliefs? I would like some feedback…thanks

  2. Joann says:

    Sorry, I meant blind faith…

  3. Michelle says:

    Thank you so much. Tonight I will sleep a little sooner & a little better 🙂

  4. Russ VanHeel says:

    I have finally found a church that I feel accepted and worthy to be a part of, and it’s because of messages exactly like this one in which God speaks his word through Greg that he loves and accepts us and is willing to work with us from the places we are at in our lives. There have been invaluable blessings in my life since I’ve been attending Woodland Hills, and God has been answering my prayers. I’m just so grateful to God for bringing me to this church, and grateful to Greg for his sermons and the messages God speaks through them. I’ve fallen deep and hard throughout my life, but now I am finally beginning to realize that God loves and forgives me and has truthfully never abandoned me. Thank you.

  5. Laura says:

    I so love Greg’s story about cursing God out and and Romans8:1… Are there any video clips of just that story??

  6. Scott Schneider says:

    Another great curser of God was Jeremiah, my personal fav. Chapters 12 and 20 are two of the heaviest. In chapter 20 Jeremiah says that God deceived him and overpowered him. Walter Bruggeman says that it would not be a wrong translation to read, “God you raped me!” The language is that strong. He also cursed his birth etc. God never gets on him for lashing out at God.

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"Thank you all the way from Oregon. I deeply appreciate being shepherded by Pastor Greg and everyone else on the panels. You are a rare find in the church nowadays. Tackling tough questions with humility and a kingdom perspective. It has been life changing for me in such tumultuous times."

– Heather, from Oregon