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Faith and Doubt: Do We Really Have to Agree on Everything?

By Steve Austin | Best of Messy Grace

Sep 19

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Have you ever been cut off by a friend? I don’t mean moving away and slowly disconnecting. I am talking about a sharp, intentional separation, from friendship to…not. It’s happened to me three times in the past year.

Faith and Doubts: Do We Really Have to Agree on Everything?

I get it: I’ve become more vocal than ever in sharing honestly who I am, who I want to be, and what I believe. I am learning to be vulnerable, but that doesn’t make me invincible. The pain of losing a true friend cuts deep. In each situation, I lost a friend I had shared deep parts of my soul with– both past sins, current doubts, and future dreams. They were the kind of friends you’d lend money or drop everything to rescue from the side of the highway. Vacations with your families kind of friendships. And now they are over.

Why? One word I have grown to hate: theology. In each circumstance, these friendships ended because I’m willing to say I don’t know.

  • I don’t know what I believe about hell: does it even exist?
  • I don’t what I believe about the rapture: Will we really all fly away?
  • I don’t know what I believe about speaking in tongues. Sherodeinahonda.
  • And until six months ago, I wasn’t sure what I believed about LGBT Christians, but I have always been called to love.

If you have answers to each of the above questions, and are able to defend your faith to the fullest, I must admit I’m jealous of you. Those of you who have a black and white faith make me green with envy sometimes. I have studied the Bible, read books and articles, and listened to podcasts and sermons, desiring to truly know what I believe. The more I studied, the more I realized God is pretty mysterious. I also realized I am not in a place where I feel comfortable speaking on God’s behalf.

Through the years, I have grown awfully skeptical of those who are willing to say, “Thus saith the Lord,” because after two years of ministry school, a decade of service, and a lifetime of following Jesus, I still have days when I don’t know what the hell God is saying.

I love the wisdom a mentor can bring, if that’s what I have signed up for. I also love to sit under great teachers of the faith, if that’s what I am choosing. But what I do not appreciate are friends who make it their mission to save me simply because our theology doesn’t line up on all points. I don’t like the feeling of another Christian deciding I still need to be saved.

Disagreement can teach us a great deal, when it’s done in a respectful way. I am trying, daily, to cultivate a life that invites relationships with people different from me. What I want now is for others to extend that same grace to me. Grace to be wrong. Grace to be uncertain. Grace to say, I don’t know.

Do we really have to agree on every point to acknowledge the salvation of the other? Do I really need to be saved just because I have gay friends?

Losing friends over theology that none of us fully understand is disappointing and frustrating, but denying my belief in a grace that is greater than I could ever fathom is not something I am willing to do. There’s grace for dreamers like me. And there’s grace for the friends who have walked away, in favor of a religion that fits in their box. There’s even grace for those whose don’t recognize their need for it. I’m so glad grace doesn’t cut off any of us, no matter our theology.

*Originally published on Venn Magazine.


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About the Author

Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.

  • vlmrhm says:

    Steve, it does hurt when people leave you. Stay strong in Him… He has all the answers. Sometimes I think the world wants to make it a us against them war. Yet, I cannot speak Jesus to someone without His grace, without love. I have friends who are so lost, they have been hurt so deeply …. They know who I stand for and with…. But grace to love them, will bring them to Christ. Gosh, God didn’t say to me I had to clean myself up before I could come to Him. And I don’t wanna be white washed, either. I pray this all makes sense.

    • Steve Austin says:

      Does it make sense? Absolutely! I need his Grace to flow through me when I cannot find any of my own. What’s in my is pretty murky, but His living water is better than anything I could ever give, of myself.
      I’m thankful He takes us, just as we are, and loves us through it all.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • vlmrhm says:

    Steve, it does hurt when people leave you. Stay strong in Him… He has all the answers. Sometimes I think the world wants to make it a us against them war. Yet, I cannot speak Jesus to someone without His grace, without love. I have friends who are so lost, they have been hurt so deeply …. They know who I stand for and with…. But grace to love them, will bring them to Christ. Gosh, God didn’t say to me I had to clean myself up before I could come to Him. And I don’t wanna be white washed, either. I pray this all makes sense.

    • Steve Austin says:

      Does it make sense? Absolutely! I need his Grace to flow through me when I cannot find any of my own. What’s in my is pretty murky, but His living water is better than anything I could ever give, of myself.
      I’m thankful He takes us, just as we are, and loves us through it all.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • rtodd50 says:

    Reblogged this on God's Zone.

  • rtodd50 says:

    Reblogged this on God's Zone.

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