Making Room for Believers

1_4_Hospitality

I’m a doubter. A serious doubter. I share a name with the brother of Peter, but if I’m a disciple I’m Thomas. Tell me God is at work in the world? Tell me Jesus is making all things new? I need to put my hands in the deep wounds of this world and feel the blood of Christ pulsing through it before I’ll believe it’s true.

Doubting ThomasAs a doubter, I often feel unsafe. Some of my Christian brothers and sisters are uncomfortable with doubts. Doubts seem to be the antithesis of faith, and faith is what we want more of, so obviously doubt gets in the way. Doubts can make us squeamish, uneasy. In some circles, doubts are a threat and are met with hostility.

I’ve been in countless conversations with believers who assume we’re on the same page because we’re both Christians. But we’re not on the same page. I’m not a believer, I’m a doubter. So I smile, I nod, I say little more than a polite ‘mmm,’ I search for pieces in the conversation that I can affirm, points of connection, all the while holding back my real self to avoid uncomfortable confrontations.

Because there are many unsafe spaces, I seize the opportunity to be myself in spaces that feel more safe – when someone genuinely wants to hear part of my story, when I can explain more fully the experiences that foster my doubt and those that give me hope, when it feels okay to be a little more candid.

The problem is, though, within my doubt is an inherent critique of faith. My doubts stem from a dissatisfaction with the answers, an objection to various doctrines others hold dear, a diversion of worldview. Is it possible, then, that honesty about my doubts could create an unsafe space for the believers? Does sharing my true self make believers feel self-conscious about their faith? In my candor, might they feel judgment?

My hope – as someone who hates feeling judged, who wants to be his true self to those around him, who has felt unsafe among too many believers – is to learn to be my true self and still foster a safe space for the believers. I want to be someone who invites others to share their experiences that fostered their faith and their belief, even as I affirm and resonate with those who doubt.

I don’t know how to do this well yet, but I am learning that room is best made for believers and doubters around the dinner table. It is around the table that threats of belief and doubt can give way to friendship.

photo credit: Lawrence OP via photopin cc


We are increasingly convinced that resisting violence in this world requires a lifestyle of radical hospitality. Our small acts of kindness beyond the borders of family, tribe, nation, religion, ethnicity, race, sexuality, gender, denomination, political affiliation, economic class are not only preparation for resisting more violent situations, but are also themselves the embodiment of love that create a more peaceful world. This September we are sharing a few of our own reflections, and those of our friends, on hospitality.

 

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