Is doubt the opposite of faith? In this sermon, Greg points out how a strength-tester model of faith is idolatrous and counter productive to a life that follows Jesus.
In modern Christian circles, there is a tendency to have an all or nothing understanding of the Bible. This tendency looks like a person who believes that their faith is only as strong as much as they don’t doubt the Bible and what it says. But this type of thinking creates problems when things seem to contradict what is in the Bible. Holding the Bible and Jesus in their rightful places is important to a correct understanding of faith.
This type of thinking is like the strength tester game at a carnival. The strength tester game is also called the strong man game, where a person hits a target with a sledgehammer and tries to make the puck fly to the top and ring the bell on the game. A certainty attitude towards faith creates levels of “strong-ness.” If you can hit the proverbial puck halfway up the faith meter, you can possibly get good parking spots or other small miracles. If you can hit it to the top, then you can cure the cancer that afflicts your loved one. But this model of faith isn’t what Jesus asks us for in the Bible.
The strength tester model of faith can be and tends to be idolatrous. There is a time and place for certainty, which we’ll talk about in future weeks, but this model is idolatrous when we depend on it for our core life.
Our core life and worth should depend on Jesus and not certainty in our interpretation of the Bible. It’s good to diligently study scripture and find truth from it. But if we pull our life and worth from this study, we miss getting our life and worth from Jesus. The problem is not what we believe but rather how we believe. When we believe in our scripture and certainty of interpretation to get life, we commit idolatry. We replace Jesus with our beliefs in Scripture.
And often, what happens is the way we believe makes what we believe an anti-Christ obstacle to coming to Christ. Whereas our beliefs should point us to Christ, they instead replace Christ at the center of our faith.
You can’t be getting life from God if you only focus on what you believe about God. Orthodoxy is a good thing, unless it prohibits you from getting life from Christ, the one source of life. The one way to tell if you’re getting your life from anything but Christ is to “poke” at it. Ask questions that conflict with your beliefs. If your beliefs bite back and make you feel uncertain about your life and value, you might have a problem.
The strengths tester model of faith is a psychological model of faith, whereas our faith in Christ is covenantal. The best analogy to explain this is a marriage. We don’t marry our beliefs in the other person; rather, we marry the other person. We hold beliefs about that person, but they don’t define the covenant relationship. We aim for “confident-enough” to commit to a relationship. We don’t aim for “confident beyond a shadow of a doubt”.
Taking the risk of trusting a person instead of the beliefs pays dividends throughout eternity when that person is Jesus.
If your beliefs are overwhelming Christ’s place in your heart, take time to rejuvenate your faith in Christ and not your beliefs. Beliefs have a place, and it’s not a bad thing to have them. But don’t let them replace the one person that reconciles you to God.
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