This is the introduction to a series of articles asking and processing through hard questions. I would love for you to join me as I process and discuss questions I have wrestled with. Please feel free to ask any questions of your own either in the comments below or on the Discussion side of the website.
The Rebelution is where teenagers rebel against low expectations, dreaming and pursing the impossible with all of our abilities, right? So if we can do hard things then we for sure can think and process hard things. If you don’t believe this, check out the discussion side of the website to witness teenagers currently asking and discussing hard questions.
Over the next several weeks or months, I would like to ask a few hard questions of my own.
As anyone who has grown up in a conservative Christian setting, there are many issues — doctrines, beliefs, practices — I have struggled to accept or want.
On some of the issues, I have come to a few conclusions, but not for all of them. I am okay with this, because I think life is as much about the wrestling and struggling journey as it is about the destination.
I think that is why Jesus rarely gave pat answers. Instead, He gave His points through stories, illustrations, and day-to-day relationship. After all, He did say Eternal life was knowing the Father and His Son (John 17:3).
I believe we will always have unanswered questions and desires as long as we live because we are still in the journey. It is as if our time on earth were “engagement” to Jesus and eternity the marriage. Engagement is better than courtship, but unsatisfactory. What we really long for will only come after the marriage — Heaven.
I will share my journey and questions, hoping it can benefit you as you also face life and its tough questions.
Some of what I write might be pretty raw. I welcome any discussion it provokes, but I plead with you not to argue. As Christians, we ought to be able to discuss hard questions without petty name-calling or stereotyping. Please don’t put people in boxes because of the questions they ask. Don’t be threatened by new ideas. What good will come of it?
Keep an open mind, take it to God, search Scripture, and be willing to change, even if it is hard.
Realize that no matter how much you shake it, Truth will always remain standing. While in the meantime, all the extra dust and accessories will have been shaken off. Therefore, do not be afraid to consider new perspectives—you can always revert back to the old one.
Like Timothy Keller said, after encouraging both skeptics and believers to wrestle through doubts: “At the end of each process, even if you remain the skeptic or believer you have been, you will hold your own position with both greater clarity and greater humility” (The Reason for God, xix).
Let me begin by giving you a little perspective of where I’ll be coming from:
Like many of you, I come from a conservative Christian background. Our church circles generally believe in non-resistance, some even pacifism; we value modesty both in dress and spirit and practice the woman’s prayer or headship veiling. We tend to put more emphasis on practical living (the way) than on knowledge or charisma (the truth and life), and community (brotherhood) is very important to us.
Of course, like every denomination or sect, we have our issues. We have progressives and legalists, and even some hipsters. We have lots of church splits over both big and little issues. Every conference practices each issue slightly different—to such a degree, in fact, that I get embarrassed when trying to explain the nuances which make each conference distinct. At the end of the day, we all follow Jesus.
And, like everyone else, we have our sharp disagreements about how to do church, what music to use, and how leaders should behave. Like the rest of Christianity, our leaders and laymen alike are terribly flawed; and like the rest of Christianity, some people can’t get over that fact.
This is the background I most closely associate with; however, my parents were very social people, therefore giving me a broad range of exposure even at a young age. My Dad was a pastor and general contractor in a small community and interacted with a lot of different people.
Growing up, my siblings and I interacted with not only conservatives, but also with mainstream evangelicals, charismatics, and many people of no faith at all. We were homeschooled but also involved with other activities outside the home, such as sports and music.
My parents were very open with us, allowing us to see some of their own struggles with their distinctive beliefs, each other, God, culture, and other things. They were upfront about their convictions and boundaries, but cared more about teaching us through lifestyle than through rules.
One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me as I grew older was the freedom to make my own choices and decide my own convictions, rather than wrenching them onto me. They allowed us to analyze and challenge the theological status quo rather than taking it as a threat and grasping to control us.
If controlled, a person will either give up and resign or fight and run; either way will only be a reaction, not a deliberate choice. Jesus is not interested in manipulated resignation, but proactive choices to love Him.
I say all this to help you understand why I will ask the questions I ask. My challenge to you is not to argue, but to go deeper in faith and thought. Don’t run from hard questions but struggle through them. There may be questions that are brand new to you and it may be tempting to immediately react with an answer. Don’t assume that your answer is the right one.
We need to be willing not to just try harder, but to also make drastic core-belief changes. Even if you never make a 180, at least be willing to, because Jesus will, at times, ask you to make radical changes of direction.
Do not assume your “Bible-believing” church teaches every doctrine biblically, even if they are prospering. God blesses people and churches not so much because they have all their doctrine correct, but because they have hearts surrendered to Him through which He can move. And just because they have hearts surrendered to Him, does not mean they have arrived at perfection (remember David?).
At the same time, remember that no church has perfect doctrine, and, to a degree, that is okay, because life is just as much about the journey as the destination. God could easily perfect someone in a moment, but He always chooses to mold someone through a lifetime of experiences.
Our goal should not be to arrive at perfect answers, but to journey with Jesus through the hard questions.
Shall we begin?