I was recently asked by a godly young man if his struggles disqualified him from being a disciple maker. This man knows and loves the bible more than most of us. He loves the Lord and is more than capable of making disciples. His faith in the essentials of Christian orthodoxy are strong. He believes and affirms the deity of Christ, substitutionary atonement, inspiration of scripture and the second coming of Jesus. However he struggles with believing that the bible teaches that the earth is only 6 thousand years old. He struggles with some of the church teaching around homosexuality. He struggles with certain modern, conservative interpretations of what the bible literally says.
His current discipleship environment is quite dogmatically conservative and does not allow for much variety in viewpoints. He is fearful that he is a black sheep in our Christian community and that his views would bring disunity to our church body if he were to make disciples.
My heart is in pain when I think that this young man does not feel fully accepted in our community. I am disappointed that some of his experience of our church has made him feel like a leper because of the questions and struggles he has. I am angry that the devil has made him think he is unable to follow the command of his King to make disciples.
Surely maturity in Christ and knowledge of His word does not answer all our questions. Is the bible not mysterious about many non-essential topics? Should the author of Ecclesiastes be disqualified from discipleship because of his uncertainty about many things? Should knowledge puff us up to be superior about all we know or should true knowledge not make us more humble, living in the fear of the Lord at how little we know? Did God not name His chosen nation ‘Israel’ (which means ‘wrestles with God’) because He wanted them to keep struggling with Him to grow their faith? Was Yahweh rebuking His people with this name or affirming them? Does the unity described in the bible look like uniformity or is there more beauty in the diversity of every tribe and tongue being unified by Christ?
This man should continue his struggles with humility in the community of believers and he should invite less mature believers to journey with him, sharing his struggles with eyes fixed on Christ, making disciples united by the essentials of our faith.