10 Jan 2019 Driven by Doubt
By Todd Fredrickson |
My biggest fear on the eve of my first global mission trip had nothing to do with safety or comfort. On the contrary, I am an adventurous traveler, and I was excited to experience a different culture and lifestyle. No, my biggest fear was that my doubts would be confirmed. My doubts about my faith.
I had always wondered to what extent my faith in Jesus was a product of my culture, of being born and raised in a Christian home and a largely Christian society. Was Jesus real to me because of the framework in which I grew up, the intellectual scaffolding that was embedded in my background?
Was Jesus real to me because of the framework in which I grew up, the intellectual scaffolding that was embedded in my background?
Or is he really King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the One who beckons people of every tribe, every tongue, and every nation? In other words, does Jesus make sense outside my culture?
There was a very real part of me—a small, dark, almost sinister whisper—that was afraid to find out, and in 2005 I embarked on my first cross-cultural mission trip with fear and trembling. What I definitively learned on that trip, and many others since, is that Jesus makes sense in every culture.
On three continents I have seen that what keeps people from joy is not bound by society, nor is it rooted in language, race, money, or tradition. What keeps us from joy is that the heart of people, wherever and however they live, is a dark place apart from God, something that requires repair, the kind of repair and nurture that only a genuine knowledge and love of God can provide. In short, our hearts require Jesus.
I am ashamed to say that I had to travel to become so sure of that. For most of my adult life, people have thought of me as a person of great faith, and I suppose there was some truth in that. But my faith was nothing then like it is now, and I hope I can honor the tradition of Thomas from the Bible. His doubts troubled him deeply until Jesus allowed him to test them in a most intimate way by allowing Thomas to touch His wounds.
In short, our hearts require Jesus.
Tradition holds that with his doubts behind him, a confident, driven, and inspired Thomas carried the gospel, the good news of the relationship we can have with Jesus, all the way from Jerusalem to India. Likewise, the Lord has planted in me a desire to see the gospel spread into people groups that are as yet unreached.
Several years after that first trip to Nicaragua, I took a class called Perspectives, a 15-week course that explores the story of God’s redemptive plan for humanity, starting from creation on through to the end of time.
Talk about a life changer. For the first time in my life, I saw the big picture, or perhaps I should say “the Big Picture.” I gained understanding and tools that gave wheels to my passion. All the doubts I once had about whether Jesus made sense around the world were not only long gone, I understood why I needed to work through them to become the follower of Christ that I want to be. The course was so powerful that I took it again three years later, and I helped run and lead it three years after that. Each time, I came to understand God’s love for us and plan for us better and deeper.
Northshore is hosting Perspectives in 2019, beginning January 17, and I’m involved again. I can’t stay away, and I recommend it for anybody who wants to know more about how much God loves us and what He is doing about it.
Even if—no, especially if—you have your doubts.
Perspectives class will be held at Northshore for 15 weeks on Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m. starting January 17. Click here to sign up.
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