Wednesday, June 23, 2010

doubt and mercy

"Be merciful to those who doubt."
Jude 22 (NIV)

When I read those words the other day they just seemed to jump off the page at me. Six simple words, but I think they contain a lot of challenge for followers of Christ today.

How do we usually handle those who doubt? Are we merciful towards them? Or do we judge them for their doubts? Does it make a difference if they have claimed to be a follower of Christ in the past and now are confessing to having doubts? Do we have more patience for those with doubts who have never called themselves a follower of Christ?

How do you want someone to treat us when you are struggling with doubt? Would you tell another follower of Christ that you are struggling with doubt? Or would you just keep quiet and hope to avoid any lectures on "just have faith anyways"? How have your doubts been handled by others in the past? Have you ever told anyone of doubts before?

These are just some of the many questions in my mind since I read that verse: "Be merciful to those who doubt." (Jude 22). I think this verse caught my eye because it goes against the way many of us - followers of Christ - have treated those who doubt in the past. I know many people who have felt more judgment than mercy from people for having doubts. Granted, it is not a guarantee that we do not treat people with doubt well. I could also tell stories of times when people who doubt have been treated with mercy.

The writer of the short book of Jude included some very helpful word in these few words. Really, if we are honest these few words depict how we would like to be treated when we express doubt. When we are struggling with doubt, we do not need to be told that we just have to have more faith or that we are not a good Christian because we have doubt. So, why would we think that someone else wanted to hear that when they express their doubt to us?

Ultimately the most helpful way we can respond is with mercy as the author of Jude says. When we respond that way we give people an opportunity to grow deeper in their relationship with God in the midst of their doubt, rather than push them away. Doubt can be a huge opportunity for growth, but we need to treat doubt in a way that builds up and draws people closer, rather tears down and pushes them away.

"Be merciful to those who doubt."
Jude 22

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