Main Idea: Struggling with God is not an option for the Christian life. It is a necessity of the Christian life. And if you're not doing it, then you're not doing the Christian life.
When have you felt the most secure? The most safe?
Is Christianity radical? Is following Jesus radical?
The Bible says that God has come to make a home within you.
Jesus said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.” (Luke 13:20-21)
God’s plan is like this invisible ingredient that’s meant to spread through everything, the entire world. But before He can do that, God has intended to claim every acre of your life, brain, and soul. He has come to claim all of the territory.
But we don’t always want to give God that.
So on the one hand, we have the things that make us feel safe. And on the other hand, we have the things that make us feel scared and hesitant.
How do we reconcile these things? Mark 9:14-25.
And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” (Mark 9:14-25)
Father, help us to be brave enough to trust in You, to follow you. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
We’re really just preaching on one verse: “I believe; help my unbelief!”
If you’re like me, that’s the story of your Christian life. This could be my epitaph. This could go on my gravestone if I die today. “Lord, I believe! Help me with my unbelief.” And I’m betting that it probably sums up yours, too. This tension between believing in God and not believing in God.
We have our feet pointed in two directions. We’ve got our feet in two different worlds. We’ve got our feet pointed towards Jesus, and then we’ve got our feet pointed towards our safe preferences. Life at our own pace.
But when you’re divided like that, you’re not really going anywhere. And you’re not really living. We’re living life half-alive Christians. Zombie Christians, because we won’t go all in on God.
The most important sermons that preachers give are when you go back to the basics. That’s where revival is. That’s where repentance is. And that’s where we’re going today.
Some Christians define belief as wishful thinking. That is, like, the Cubs will win the series next year. Like things are going to be good just because we want them to be good.
Christianity is not wishful thinking. When the word belief is used in the Bible, that’s never what it means.
There’s a second type of belief that’s dangerous: that belief would become a classroom exercise. It’s an intellectual belief. When the Bible uses the word belief, it never merely means, “intellectually agreeing with.”
Have you ever noticed in the Bible that when Jesus asked people to follow Him, they just do it? Rabbis were so respected that it was the ambition of every young man to be called by a rabbi. But part of being called by a rabbi meant you lived with him. You followed him. It flowed not just from your head, not just your heart, but your entire life.
You have an enemy that wants to shut down your life and to make sure that it has no meaning and bears no fruit.
Jesus says, “I come to bring a sword.” He’s not playing around. He meant it.
In Revelation, God’s plan almost sounds like a secret mission where Jesus sneaks into enemy territory to try to do the impossible: to try to change the hearts of men.
John 10:10 say:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
That battle is going on in your life every single day. We have been born into a war but we’re not very aware of, and we don’t treat it like it’s actually true.
We struggle with our world, with our circumstances, and with our enemy, but we also have a good and necessary struggle, and that struggle is with God Himself.
Jacob wrestled with God and was given a new name: “He who wrestles with God.” Struggling with God is not an option for the Christian life. It is a necessity of the Christian life. And if you’re not doing it, then you’re not doing the Christian life.
So how do we combat unbelief?
Listen to Him. Obey Him. Give Him more territory in your life. When He asks you to step into the unknown, you step into the unknown.
Some of us have been dipping our toes into life with God for ten, twenty, thirty years. Dipping our toes to see how the water is for a long time.
Life is scary, whether you believe in Jesus or not. You are guaranteed to suffer. The death rate is 100%. None of us gets out of this alive. You are born into a unsafe world. But the only safe place in the entire galaxy is the place where beauty, truth, love and goodness cross.
And that crossroads is the cross, and is Jesus.