The Idol of Certainty
They call faith "faith" for a reason. God calls us into a covenantal faith that embraces doubt and uncertainty in the context of a love relationship. Finding our life in “Jesus Christ and Him Crucified” is radically different from a certainty-seeking, doubt-shunning faith.
“Faith is a free surrender and a joyous wager on the unseen, unknown, untested goodness of God.” - Martin Luther
“I do believe; help me with my unbelief!” - Mark 9v24
- How do you define “faith”?
- What event or events in your life have increased your faith? When has God “made himself known to you” in ways powerful enough to steady you in the darker times?
- If you had to name one “tenet of the faith” that you struggle to really agree with, what would it be? How willing easy or difficult is it to admit that struggle to another Christian?
Read Genesis 32v22-30
- What questions and comments do you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
- Why do you think Jacob wanted to be alone?
- How is the identity of the mysterious wrestler slowly revealed throughout the story? What are the pieces of evidence?
- Who won the wrestling match? Make a case from the passage for the thesis that the wrestler won. Make a case from the passage that Jacob won.
- Someone has said that this is both a defeat and a victory for both parties. How does each party win through losing? Where do we see the ultimate example of triumph through defeat?
- What does Jacob receive from God? How are they analogous to what all Christians receive from their saving encounter with God?
“Those who believe they believe in God but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself.” Madeleine L’Engle
- What do your doubts teach you? How has wrestling with doubt helped, hindered, deepened, or bruised your faith?
- When you think about times when you have wrestled with God, what seems to be your most common response?
- List out some healthy ways of wrestling with God. Which of these could you try the next time that you are confronted with a problem that doesn’t make sense?
- Come up with a plan of action for wrestling with God in the New Year. Who can you trust in your life to help hold you accountable in asking honest questions about God?
“Faith is not simply holding beliefs. Many people, when they consider faith, think, I believe that God exists, or Scripture is accurate, or Love is the greatest virtue. But at its core, faith is not simply the belief in a statement; it puts trust in a person.” - John Ortberg
Almighty God, my heavenly Father, we have sinned against you, through our own fault in thought, and word, and deed, in what we have done and what we have left undone. For the sake of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, forgive us all of our offenses; and grant that we may serve you in the newness of life, to the glory of your Name. Amen.
Deny yourself the ability to experience the presence of others. Spend an extended period of time [10 minutes, 1 hour, several hours] in solitude each day this week, reflecting on your dependence upon God.
Give your presence to friends or family members you have lost contact with. Call or text someone each day this week and offer your presence, encouragement, and love.