Last night, before I arrived home to watch the waning minutes of the Bucs victory over the Arizona Cardinals, I had the opportunity to lead yet another discussion on the Nickel Creek’s “Doubting Thomas.” This time it was with Redeemer’s Jr. High.
Of course I made the mistake of not explaining what a “doubting Thomas” was (you just can’t assume biblical literacy, although I’m pretty sure Doubting Thomas is used as a secular term as well), and that was my fault. But once we got past that, discussion, along with the craziness of 15 middle-schoolers in a small room, flowed like the New River.
One thing I found very interesting with the Jr. High was their attention to detail with the song lyrics. They wanted to know what every line meant. I didn’t get that with the Sr. High’s.
But what I found most profound was their quick, without hesitation answer to my question, “So, what would you say are some of the things you doubt?” The Sr High didn’t say anything. The Jr. High kids said everything.
They were unashamed, as they should be, to admit doubting and having some questions about key doctrinal issues. Of course some of them weren’t really doubts, and many of the questions had legitimate answers with which we’ll follow up. Yet there were some serious doubts present.
But the cool thing is that their questions and doubts were brought before a community: to each other and to their leaders. Youth group had become a safe place. I had them read Jude 22, which is not your most commonly read verse in the world, but very apropos to doubts: “Have mercy on those who doubt.” They were already applying that verse, with of course, having no idea who the heck Jude was.
No one felt ashamed to admit he/she wondered about what heaven was like, if it is was real at all, and who all would be there.
I don’t tend to like the attention span of Jr Highers, but I do love their honesty. If they keep these doubts inside, we don’t have a clue they exist. Yet what freedom we have to bring our doubts to Jesus (Mark 9:23-24)-that’s where we ended the discussion. Doubts love to be alone and stay as far away from Jesus as possible because they know they can’t survive in Christ centered community.
While this seems the opposite of having “faith like a child,” which Jesus saw and praised in children, I think he would have also praised this honesty as well, saying, “doubt like a child.” After all a child like faith isn’t afraid to admit where it falls short.