Jan30TueSin, doubt, struggles and other things we shouldn’t ignore. January 30, 2018 by Captain Scott Strissel
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- Opinion & Critical Thought
Why don’t we talk about the things we don’t talk about? That sentence might sound funny, but there’s nothing funny about the silence of Christ-followers when it comes to certain areas of faith. Here are five things that need deeper conversations.
1. Doubt is normal.
I used to think there was something wrong with me because I struggled with doubt. I thought I was the only one until I met other Christians who were honest and allowed themselves to be vulnerable. Only then did I realize that the journey of faith frequently goes through places in which we experience doubt. Talking about it helped, and I began to realize I wasn’t the only one struggling with this.
2. Prayer isn’t always answered the way we want.
This might seem obvious, but I don’t think we talk about prayer, real prayer, enough. Prayer isn’t about communicating with some magical genie, or shaking a Magic 8-Ball until you get the desired answer. Sometimes prayer doesn’t turn out the way that we’d hoped. It doesn’t mean that God isn’t listening or doesn’t care; it just means that the answer could be “wait” or “no.” It might seem cliché, but our timing isn’t God’s timing. Truth be told, that’s tough to hear when a loved one is taken from us even after we prayed and prayed for them to be healed. So does prayer shape our faith, or work in tandem to it? Remember, just because our prayers aren’t answered, it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care or isn’t listening.
3. Not all “Christians” can be trusted.
Many of us learn the hard way that not all Christians actually care about you or will invest time in your life. Be mindful of this. I am not advocating that we shouldn’t trust other Christians, but be aware of who you confide in and use your common sense. Yes, we ought to be vulnerable, but if the “Christians” around you don’t share their lives with you, then perhaps you should be careful not to overshare. There might even be times when you should seek out other groups of Christians who might be more compassionate and attentive. Find Christ-followers who will build you up, challenge you and edify your walk with Christ. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23) applies to your mentors and peers, as well.
4. Real struggles aren’t shared in church … most of the time.
This goes hand in hand with the doubt and trust issues—no one wants to be seen as vulnerable or struggling in their faith, when in reality we all struggle from time to time. Why can’t we talk about real issues in church? I think we need to challenge the notion that we have to have everything together on Sunday (or any other day you go to church). In reality, life is messy. Why can’t we be honest about this? Until we stop wearing masks in church, we will never see growth.
I would like to call out the picture-perfect Christian who never struggles with anything and looks down their nose at anyone who does—stop! You aren’t helping anyone. In fact, you are preventing growth. Also, I’m calling out your lie—if you’re alive, you face struggles in life … so get over your prim and proper, pious self, help others in their faith, and stop pretending that you’ve got it all worked out.
5. The consequences of sin are real.
I need to tread carefully here. Why don’t we talk about sin? Is it because we don’t want to guilt people into making changes? Perhaps we don’t talk about it because it shouldn’t be our focal point, but to not talk about it is to all of our detriment. We can’t not talk about sin.
Even after confession, redemption and reconciliation, sin has consequences—similar to the long-term effects of smoking or excessive drinking on the body. It eventually catches up to us. We can’t stay silent on sin. If we love our church and the people in it, we must lovingly (emphasis on lovingly) talk about sin and its effects.
These are just five things about faith no one seems to talk about. I realize there are more, but this is just to start a conversation. What else should we talk more about?
Captain Scott Strissel is the corps officer at Evansville Corps and Community Center in Indiana. He is an active blogger and contributor for the purpose of encouraging and challenging the Salvation Army world. Read his blog at pastorsponderings.org.