Although the issue of faith and doubt has been a primary theme of my blog, I actually have not written about it in awhile. I pick up books very inexpensively in various ways. For example, at the Goodwill “by the pound” store I can get books for as little as 5 to 20 cents each! For such a small amount, I am willing to take a risk on a book. A recent one was “Holy Curiosity, Encountering Jesus’ Provocative Questions” by Winn Collier. In each chapter of the book, the author looks at a question Jesus asked. Jesus often used questions very skillfully to get to the heart of a matter, to reveal motives, to challenge people. I’d honestly only give this book a mediocre review, but 2 of the chapters really resonated with me and made it worthwhile! One was entitled “Are you confused? The gift of disorientation” and the other “Why do you doubt? Faith’s odd friend.” In two posts, I thought I’d share some quotes and thoughts from these 2 chapters.
I’ll start with the chapter on the gift of confusion. In the Gospels we sometimes find the disciples off to the side, discussing amongst themselves, trying to figure out what in the world Jesus had meant by something! They were confused! The author refers to a specific incident in John chapter 16. In verse 19, Jesus let them know he was aware of their confusion by asking them “Are you asking yourselves what I meant?”
Questions and confusion are clearly not a bad thing, and there is a time for them! The author states, in reference to the incident in John 16:
“Jesus used hard-to-understand words and perplexing notions to unsettle his disciples…There is a time for answers and clarity, and then there is a time when the only appropriate state is confusion…The plan for redemption would be unfolded later. But now, in this moment, if they [the disciples] weren’t at least a bit confused, if questions weren’t bubbling to the surface, it was a signal that they weren’t paying attention.”
However, the author also makes the point that there is nothing inherently good in confusion. We don’t want to remain muddled! God is not out to befuddle us! Yet, we need to accept that our Christian life will include times of confusion, and that is totally normal. The author states:
“Do we really think it is possible to follow the ways of God without having our world turned over? Do we really expect to follow a God we always understand, who always conforms to our expectations? Could confusion (at times) be a sign that we have actually heard God correctly? Disorientation shouldn’t be disdained; it is inevitable. If the Jesus we hear never finishes a sentence differently that we imagine he would, if the Jesus we claim to follow never offers an ideology in direct contradiction to what we have grown comfortable with, if the Jesus we envision never loves people we would never expect him to embrace, we might need to revisit the Gospels. We might need to be reintroduced to the biblical Jesus.”
Confusion can (at times) be a sign that we are on the right track! Jesus is challenging us to follow him, and the way of the cross is often contrary to our natural inclinations. Confusion can also be a gracious warning that we are on the wrong track and need to make a change. Out of confusion can spring clarity about our beliefs and the purpose God has for our lives!
Thanks to the author Winn Collier for sharing these and other thoughts in this chapter.