“And have mercy on those who doubt” (Jude 22)
One of the things I consistently have to remind myself of is this: The church is not meant to be a place for moral people to showcase their righteousness. It’s for messed up people of all varieties to love Jesus with like-minded friends and, together, be changed by Him.
In short, it’s a place where it’s OK to not be OK.
And that’s not just for Christians who are struggling with such-and-such sin and need prayer support, encouragement, etc. It’s for people who aren’t even really sure they believe this anymore.
A church should be a safe place for doubters.
In John, Thomas doubts the resurrection of Jesus, but the Lord still appears to him. And that’s beautiful: Thomas isn’t buying this thing, and Jesus still makes the effort with him and wants to be around him. Thomas isn’t kicked out of the Twelve or demoted to being a second-rank apostle. He’s still loved even as he’s doubting the One who loves him.
We each need to foster this kind of environment where people’s questions can be voiced without fear of losing their friends or becoming the object of gossip or ill-intentioned “prayer requests”**.
Because someday, you and me might need our brothers and sisters to listen to our questions, too.
**By this, I mean the type of prayer request that someone shares in a group, but it’s really more about talking about someone behind their back than it is interceding before God on their behalf. “We need to pray for so-and-so, because they’re <add vice here>.” It’s really just a way to get around the biblical prohibition against gossip, but anyone who does this shouldn’t think for a moment that God is buying the act.