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Pete Enns & The Bible for Normal People

On My Doubts as a Pastor

The Bible for Normal People

Jared Byas, M.A.

As a former teaching pastor and professor of philosophy and biblical studies, he speaks regularly on the Bible, truth, creativity, wisdom, and the Christian faith. Tweets at @jbyas

by Jared ByasJared Byas

It was about ten years ago when those doubts first came.

“Maybe God’s not real.”

Like any unwelcome intruder, they were shoved immediately out of my mind. With my back still against the door, they knocked again. The knocks became a rattling doorknob and the rattling became thrusts to come back in.

And this door, it had no locks. If you’ve ever tried to keep someone out of a door with no lock, you know, it’s exhausting.

Eventually I stopped trying. I caved. I welcomed them in, told them to make themselves at home, and asked if they wanted anything to drink.

As my doubts settled in and made themselves comfortable, my discomfort with my current job grew. Sometimes preaching the same sermon 4 times in a weekend to a congregation with around 3,000 members, what felt like double-mindedness became maddening. The inner voices, you know, the ones that say “fraud,” and “fake,” “unfaithful” and “coward,” they started getting louder.

There was one group I was particularly close with. It was the smallest service. It met on Saturday nights and I preached at it almost every week. And one week, as I introduced communion, something profound happened to me. A truth that I never understood now made sense.

And in that moment, I decided I would let this group of about 200 people into that room in my mind where I kept the doubts.

“As we take communion tonight, I have a confession to make,” I said, with my voice trembling.

“Sometimes I don’t believe. Sometimes I don’t believe God exists. Sometimes I’m not so sure about Jesus either. Sometimes I don’t know what to do with the Bible. And sometimes I have more questions than answers.”

That felt good.

“But that’s okay,” I said. “It’s okay because that’s why you’re here tonight. That’s why I show up week after week after week. Because when I can’t believe, you believe on my behalf. You believe for me. And when I can believe, I’ll bear your unbelief. That’s what it means to be the Body of Christ.”

And when not one person batted an eye or tossed a judgmental glare, that’s when Christianity became real to me. That’s when the Church became my home.

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