Last month, an American content creator who was well known in Christian circles for his poems and podcasts, posted on social media that he was no longer a Christian. I was angered and a bit confused by his post. I never foresaw the possibility of someone who was essential in the growth of my faith making such a statement.
However, after praying about my response to his post and having a conversation with a good friend about it, I realized that an Instagram post doesn’t tell the entire story. As a result, I was more compelled to pray for the person and trust God’s leading in their life than to go on a social media rant about it.
This situation, however, caused me to reflect upon how difficult it is to believe to the very end. That it doesn’t matter how well taught in doctrine or cultured in Christian living we are. Unbelief unaddressed can cause us to depart from the faith. Which suggests that we are “Unbelievable.”
Unbelief is a very difficult subject to comprehend as it challenges our understanding of God’s gift of salvation to mankind. How do we make sense of unbelief considering Jesus promises in his “I am” statements in the book of John? If they were truly with us (Jesus) surely this would never have happened to them?
As I have matured in the faith, I have realized that there is more to one’s story of unbelief. That the aftermath of unbelief is an accumulation of years of prayers rejected, the seemingly unrewarded nature of righteous living, the weariness of denying oneself, and conflicts within the body of Christ (church). Whether we give into unbelief or not, we confront these issues frequently.
I believe that we all have the capacity for unbelief. Unbelief is consistent with our need for evidence. I don’t believe that anyone desires to give in to unbelief; but they do. Why?
Unreasonable (Un-reason-able) gospel
Belief in the gospel is hard and cannot be comprehended with human understanding. The gospel justifiably imposes itself on the wisdom of man, promising life to those who believe in it. Yet, it doesn’t exempt us from the harshness of this world.
We are not exempted from the embarrassment of not knowing the answer to an unsaved colleague question about the bible (gospel). Nor the hostility of our environments (Home, work and sometimes church) plagued by perpetual violence, mistrust, and disrespect. Nor the pain of betrayals, heartbreaks (break-ups), and not having to do what is desirable concerning our sex life.
The Gospel demands a lot from us and if doubt has its way, it can cause us to yield to unbelief. Doubt nurtured makes unbelief more desirable than it should be. I believe that unbelief is the last resort for persons who just don’t believe in the gospels anymore. So how should unbelief be addressed?
Thomas was very honest about his unbelief (John Chapter 20 verses 24-29). He made it clear to the disciples that for him to believe in Christ resurrection certain criteria had to be met. The foreshadowing of Jesus death and resurrection and the disciples’ report of this happening was never enough for Thomas to believe.
There must be honesty when wrestling with unbelief. It matters little if you are a theologian or an average churchgoer, it is most prudent to confess your unbelief. Thomas story demonstrated to me that it’s only Jesus (Holy Spirit) who can rescue us from our unbelief.
I must commend the content creator for being honest with his fans about his headspace concerning Christianity. His honesty prevented some of his followers from being misled by his recent convictions pertaining to the faith. Although, the way he communicated his unbelief made me realize that honesty must be supplemented with humility in dealing with it.
Doubt may be the source of one’s unbelief, but it is matured and sustained by pride. Thomas in his pride was very determined that he wasn’t going to believe until his criteria were met. One would argue that unbelief should encourage us to be more intentional in searching for truth; but pride causes us to reject the truth that isn’t aligned with our convictions and reasoning (criteria).
Pride propels us to be impatient in our wrestle with unbelief. Our need for answers now and our dissatisfaction with the truths that we do know, has the tendency to make the words of other doubters and false prophets seem wiser than they should. However, humility offers more help with our unbelief than we give it credit for.
Humility encourages patience in our search for truth. Humility propels us to be genuine in living out our faith while wrestling with unbelief. It communicates to those looking out that though I may not know the answers, I am willing to believe in the trustworthiness of God’s word while I search.
I will admit that this is difficult for one to do alone. For this reason, the body (church) is needed. The church is needed to help, pray for, show mercy to, and if necessary, rebuke those who wrestle with unbelief.
The struggle with unbelief will get frustrating; but it’s deceptive to think giving into it offers more peace. Jesus cares about your unbelief. Cast it all on him, for he promised to guide us into all truths by his Spirit (John chapter 16 verse 13).
Akeel Henry (West Indies) enjoys sharing the hope of Jesus Christ with all individuals. He is currently a trained Biochemist who aspires to become a physician and a pastor. If you wish to share feedback concerning his articles, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be reached on facebook, Instagram (Akeel Henry) and on twitter (@A155_thevine).