While there are many illnesses we’d hate to contract, glaucoma is one disease that strikes a particular alarm. This incurable eye condition creeps in slowly over time until a person can no longer see. A slow development of glaucoma leads to vision problems initially and eventually to a total inability to see at all.

Doubt and the Christian faith can be a bit like this. Doubt is something of a “vision problem” in the life of the Christian that can happen slowly, over time, until one looks back and can’t quite describe how things got that far. However, when dealt with wisely, doubt can lead us to Christ, loving, trusting, and obeying Him all the more.

In this post, we’ll consider three questions: How should we think about doubt? How does doubt spring up? How should we approach our doubt?


God’s Purposes for Doubt

Doubt, like any physical ailment that can happen to any of us at any time, in and of itself is not something that should surprise us. Doubt is normal in the life of the believer, but we also don’t want to leave it undealt with. Further, to say that doubt is normal does not mean that it is neutral. Rather, we ought to take doubt seriously. We’ll get into the specifics of how to approach our doubt toward the end of this post, but for now let’s consider how God treats doubt in Scripture.

The typical way God uses doubt is not simply to leave those doubts unanswered but to respond in such a way that brings glory to Himself and reinforces relationship with his people. Matthew 14:22–33 recounts the true story of Peter’s doubt and Jesus’ response when Jesus beckons Peter to walk on the water in faith. Peter walks on the water but soon takes his eyes off of Jesus and begins to sink. In response, Jesus reaches out his hand, takes hold of Peter, and asks Peter why he doubted. The response from those in the boat was to worship Jesus.

Now take Luke 7:18–35 where John the Baptist sends messengers to Jesus to ask him whether or not he is truly the one they thought he was. In response, Jesus is not harsh or condemning, but He simply tells the messengers to remind John of miracles done by Jesus. Jesus also adds an encouragement about the one who believes: And blessed is the one who is not offended by me (Luke 7:23).

These two passages show God’s patience and mercy toward those who doubt Him. However merciful and patient God is toward doubters, we must recognize that doubt is different from unbelief. As Pastor Tim spoke about in a recent sermon, “Doubt wants to believe; unbelief wants not to believe.”

If you find yourself in a season of questioning God, ask yourself, “Why do I doubt?” Ask other wise believers around you to help sort through this question too. Getting at the heart of our questioning here means we have to distinguish questions that come from a place of belief and wanting to believe versus a place of unbelief and not wanting to believe.

A couple more litmus test questions here can help us: Am I asking questions in order to test God or in order to know, love, and obey God? Is the heart posture behind my questions coming from any root of sin in my life? Looking around us today, it is easy to see that there is doubt “out there” (culturally/socially) and doubt “in here” (inside of us). The environment we’re in, including what we read, listen to, and watch, all affect our proclivity to doubt.

Yet more subtle—and possibly more harmful because we are commonly blind to it—is the doubt that springs from inside of us, often emerging from sin or unaddressed idolatry in our lives. What sin may be lying at the root of doubt in your life? How might turning to Jesus to help in this sin area affect any doubting you currently experience?


Fertile Ground for Doubt

Like a snare waiting to be activated by unsuspecting prey, being formed by the world rather than Christ and His church creates fertile ground for doubt to spring up. When we are primarily formed by the world, we fail to see when a “vision problem” emerges. These vision problems cause our eyes to be foggy, our hearts to be groggy, and we become sleepy to the discernment and wisdom found in Christ alone. Secular ideas that sound nice but are contrary to a Christian worldview can begin to take us captive.

God has given many non-Christians knowledge and understanding that may reflect His truth and that we, as believers, can learn from and find some value in. Yet, we still have to filter what we see, hear, and learn through a Christian lens. If we are not being discipled in our homes and in our local church to know and follow Jesus, we are being discipled by something, someone, somewhere else. The question here is: What am I reading? Listening to? Learning? Practicing? Talking about?

One way to cling to Christ in an age of doubt is to love the Church. It can be a remarkably slow and subtle drift from following Jesus when we (sometimes unknowingly) begin to follow the teachers of the world more readily and willingly than following our Savior and Lord and loving the Church that is so precious to Him. When we love Christ and the Church, we commit to the fellowship and accountability of other believers, bringing our questions there, helping others wrestle with their questions, and continually pointing one another back to Jesus.


A Countercultural Approach to Doubt

So where are we to go with all of this? A countercultural approach to our doubts and the doubts of the people around us illuminates a pathway not only up and out of doubt but “further up” and “further in” to the “land we have been looking for all our lives” (C.S. Lewis).

Many of us will tend toward one of two extremes of either leaving no room for questions and shaming those who doubt or celebrating doubt as a desirable virtue. However, there is a third way that appropriately positions questions and doubts in the life of the believer.

Questions and yes, even doubt, can lead us to know, love, trust, and obey God more and more. More enjoyment of God is possible on the other side of our doubt. Let us not ask questions in our own minds alone, but bring other wise believers around us and bring our humble questions to the Lord who knows how to handle them.

At the same time, we must take our doubt seriously. So how do we “doubt our doubt”? A few things may be as helpful to you as they have been for me:

  1. Recognize that all of our thoughts are not truthful. Sin and fallenness has marred every aspect of our lives. Therefore, even our own thinking is impacted, and we must recognize that not everything we think is truthful.
  2. Remember that God made us to know things, including things about Him, things about ourselves, and things about the world he created. He made us able to know things with certainty. This means that, in most cases, there are real answers to our real questions and our real doubts.
  3. Study the Christian faith deeply.
    1. Regularly read the Bible.
    2. Be in fellowship and discipleship with other believers.
    3. Take Christian education classes offered.
    4. Ask for recommendations from wise leaders and friends on good Christian books.
  4. Press into the local church. Books and wise Christian leaders and authors are great, but they cannot replace wise counsel and fellowship found in the local body of believers.

Back to Matthew 14:31–33, here’s what Scripture tells us:

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

What do we notice here about Jesus’ response to Peter’s doubt?

  • Jesus’ response to Peter’s doubt is immediate. Jesus does not wait around before tending to the doubt of his disciple. Jesus is ready to respond to your doubt too.
  • Jesus’ response is to give his hand. Jesus offers real hope for your real doubts too.
  • With his hand he takes hold of Peter. Jesus is the one holding you in your doubt, like a father holding the hand of a child. Even if you wanted to let go, if you are in Christ, he will not let you go.
  • Jesus asks Peter why he doubted. While we might think this question indicates Jesus’ surprise, the question is actually for Peter. Jesus is not caught off guard by our doubt.
  • Those in the boat worshiped Jesus. Our doubt can be used by God to bring glory to himself.

Jesus is the one holding us. He can handle our doubts. Bring them to him, in faith.


A hallmark of the autumn season in the mid-Atlantic region is geese migration. If you look up into the sky on a crisp fall day, you’re likely to see a flock of geese flying in an arrow-like pattern toward the south. In this formation, most geese fall in behind a single goose at the head of the flock. The geese at the very back of the flock follow the geese right in front of them, who are following the singular leader at the front.

In a similar way, as disciples, we look to the leader of the flock, Jesus, as we follow Him and point others to follow Him as well.

A disciple, or a follower of Jesus, is someone who has been made alive by the grace of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Discipleship, then, means helping one another know and follow Jesus together. God has given us one another in the local church to link arms and march onward together in the same direction, toward our final and full rest and joy in Jesus forevermore.

In this post, we’ll consider a model for fruitful discipleship, discuss discipleship in a fallen world, and look together at the way forward for building discipling relationships in the local church. In fact, in the Bible, Paul illustrates for us a model of this type of edifying, God-glorifying discipleship in 1 Timothy.

What do we see there?

  1. Discipleship requires using words! Paul spares no words to explicitly teach Timothy throughout his two letters. Discipling relationships ought to consist of living life side by side, and not to consist of less than using our words to encourage, instruct, warn, and admonish one another.
  2. We must be people of the Word. Paul encourages Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:6 “If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith of the good doctrine that you have followed.” Knowing God’s word by regular reading and study, not only individually but in the context of Christian community, is vital for healthy discipleship to flourish in the local church.
  3. We ought to be – or become – comfortable with telling of the grace we have received in Christ. Paul tells of his salvation in Christ in 1 Timothy 1:12-17 as he plainly explains his own previous opposition to Christ, then of the mercy shown to him by the Lord and the purpose for this mercy being God’s glory and honor. Testifying to others of the Lord’s faithfulness to us, personally, displays His patience and kindness toward us, and gives Him the glory as we point others to the transforming, redeeming work He has done in and through our lives. At Citylight, participating in the Gospel for Life class (offered once a year usually in the fall) is one way to learn how to do this.
  4. Discipleship means boldly encouraging one another to keep on in the faith. Paul says to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:16, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” There are many trials and temptations along the walk of faith. But the encouragement of brothers and sisters in Christ helps us – and them – to hold on to Jesus to the end.
  5. Prayer is vital for our discipling relationships and necessary for the thriving of the local church. 1 Timothy 2:1-7 highlights the priority of prayer when Paul says regarding the local church, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” God gives us the means of prayer to commune with Him and to join in the work of what He is doing through prayer. James 5:16 encourages us here, saying, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
  6. We ought to love God’s good design for the local church, especially in regard to gender roles and God-given authority of leadership. Paul highlights the nature and order of gender roles and the overview of authority given to those in the church as he fleshes out in 1 Timothy 2:8-15:

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

As we read this passage humbly and with a desire to be shaped by the Spirit we can come to recognize that while modern cultural efforts would claim that the church must modernize or risk becoming obsolete, God’s design for the local church, and specifically for men and women, is to be highly desired and sought by believers. But why? Since Genesis, God has made his good plans for all things clear, including the flourishing of the church. Therefore, because we want what God wants, we want to love God’s good design for the local church.

Coming away from these six implications, some of us might find ourselves feeling incredibly emboldened to chart ahead. However, others of us might feel discouraged because this feels far from where we are. Here’s the hard but good news: In a fallen world, we all experience obstacles to discipling others. If discipling relationships feel foreign to you, you are not alone. If you feel ill-equipped for this calling, you are not alone. If it feels like you just need to “get it together” before you can disciple others, you are not alone.

The truth is there will never be a “right” time to make the commitment to invest in discipling relationships. Most of us feel very busy most of the time. Relationships can be messy. They are not efficient, and loving others is hard. We often feel unqualified. We feel like we need the investing in of others.

Here’s the really good news: In Christ, there is a way forward! Earlier we talked about God’s good design for the local body. That good design includes you, being made alive in Christ, having been placed here in the local church at this time, to be a critical and functioning member of the body. You are the femur that makes the leg walk; you are the phalange that makes the hand grip; you are the ligament that makes the joint hold together.

The bottom line is this: God’s people need you, no matter how messy, unqualified, or imperfect you feel. Most of us feel the same way about ourselves.

What’s more, getting started in a discipling relationship can actually be remarkably simple. Invite another believer in the local church to get together every other week, or even just once a month, and open up God’s word together. This can make a huge impact for the good of one another and have an eternally (literally!) positive impact. All that’s left from here is to take initiative and just do it! You can read more about discipleship at Citylight on our discipleship page.

Our God is with us, and so let’s be a flock of believers that moves toward one another out of the immeasurable love with which we have been loved in Christ. Having been made alive by the gospel of grace, let’s be a people who spur one another on to follow Jesus as the head of our flock until we reach our final home with God forever.


Many of us looking at our screens in front of us right now are wearing glasses or contacts. After getting used to them initially, over time you most likely became less conscious that you are looking through a lens to see the world around you. In other words, you don’t consciously think about seeing things this way anymore. In a similar way, everyone has a worldview or a lens through which they see, interpret, and respond to the world around them, but not everyone is aware of what theirs is. As Christians, we are called to develop a Christian worldview that sees, interprets, and responds to the world around us according to the one true reality of Christ.

Our worldview consists of things like our background assumptions about God, the origins and nature of the universe, human beginnings, life after death, and so on. All of these elements strongly influence how we interpret and react to things like the news, how we engage with friends, how we go about our work and life, and much more. Your worldview also largely determines your opinion on matters of ethics and politics, things like abortion, euthanasia, same-sex relationships, education, policy, military, environmentalism, animal rights – the list is endless!

Where does our worldview come from? How do we come to acquire this way of seeing the world around us? In short, our worldview is formed from the things that form us. It comes from how we were raised, what we have been taught, and the people and things that have influenced us. It comes from what we listen to and what we read. It comes from our natural inclinations, personality, tendencies, and even the sin that indwells us.

Everyone has a worldview, and your unique worldview plays a central role in your life, shaping what you believe, how you interpret and respond to your experiences, and how you relate to yourself, to others, and to God. One way to think of this is through the Iceberg Principle.


Our worldview, the foundational layer of the iceberg, shapes our values (our inner lives), which shapes our behavior (our outer lives).

Every person’s worldview addresses four main categories of questions:

  1. Origin, purpose, and meaning: Where did everything come from? Why are we here? What is a human? What are humans made for?
  2. The basic problem: What is wrong with the world and with us? Is there “right” and “wrong”? What is the purpose of pain and suffering?
  3. Main solution: How are the questions to the “basic problem” above solved or answered?
  4. Hope: Where does our hope lie? What do we have to look forward to in the future? What happens after we die? Where is history going?

As Christians who desire to see, interpret, and respond to the world around us in a God-glorifying way, we must consciously form a distinctly Christian worldview that can address the four main categories in a coherent way that shapes both our thinking and our living. We do this primarily by knowing and studying Scripture, especially in the context of the local church. So let’s map what the Bible says about God, about us, and about all things as we look at the four main question categories:

What is the origin, purpose and meaning of all things?

Creation: All things, including man, were created by God, the only uncreated one. He created all things to glorify Himself and created man to know God and to have eternal life in Christ (Genesis 1:1, 1:26-28, John 17:3).

What is the basic problem with us and the world around us?

The Fall: Original sin by Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden subjected all creation to futility, which includes humankind in the current day. As a result, every life and all of life are impacted by sin, brokenness, and frustration (Genesis 3, Romans 5:12, Romans 8:20-22, Ephesians 2:1-3).

What is the main solution to the basic problem with us and the world around us?

Redemption: God, in His love for us, sent His son to live the perfect life of obedience, die a sinner’s death on a cross, and be resurrected from death in bodily form, overcoming the power of sin and death once and for all. In doing so, God the Father made a way for those who would believe in Him to receive pardon for sin and receive everlasting life with Him (John 3:16, Romans 5:1, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Ephesians 2:4-10).

What is our hope, now and forever?

The New Creation: Those who believe in Christ are made into a new creation by the Spirit. One day, in the new heavens and new earth, every sad thing will be made untrue, every brokenness redeemed, and every tear wiped away (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 8:26-30, Revelation 21:1-5).


Some reading this will have no problem mapping any topic right onto each of the four areas above. Others will have thoughts such as “But what about…?” This is common, so do not be dismayed if this is you today. The question is: Are you a believer who is committed to developing a coherent Christian worldview out of a love for God and for what He has done for you in Christ? Are you invested in the local church, where godly brothers and sisters in Christ can help you sort through your questions?

Let’s put the framework we’ve outlined above to the test. We’ve all by now heard the phrase “live your truth”. But how do these seemingly innocent three words hold up when compared to a Christian worldview? Here’s our framework again, this time mapping on “live your truth” to answer the four worldview questions:

What is the origin, purpose and meaning of all things?

To say “Live your truth” asserts that where you think you came from is where you came from. You determine why you are here. Your purpose or meaning is to be the fullest expression of who you truly are.

What is the basic problem with us and the world around us?

“Live your truth” believes that the basic problem with humanity is that we cannot be our full and true selves apart from self-liberation and from freeing our beliefs from the expectations set upon us by others.

What is the main solution to the basic problem with us and the world around us?

You determine who or what your true self is and then express it to the fullest extent.

What is our hope, now and forever?

Individually, you will be happier in the future than you are today if you “live your truth”. 


Hopefully, it’s easy to spot some of the main departures from a Christian worldview in the example above. As believers, we derive our purpose and meaning from the God of the Bible, not from ourselves. The worldview assessment above, along with every alternative worldview, places the individual, a lived experience, or a different deity altogether at the center of meaning, rather than meaning and purpose coming from the one and only triune God.

No matter where you start today on the spectrum of agreement with a Christian worldview (“This seems crazy!” to “This is great!”), when we come to Jesus with a humble willingness to be formed to look more like Him, He is the one who helps each of us think more like Him day by day. However, we can’t do this in isolation. Through fellowship with other believers in the local church, including looking to God in His word together, we have an opportunity to flesh out the contours of our thoughts, feelings, and actions so that they increasingly reflect a Christ-exalting view of all things.


Father, you are the sovereign, holy God of the universe. You are the one who flung stars into the sky and who made all things. We want to see as you see and respond to everything that we see in a way that reflects the truth and that glorifies you. We confess that we often see things as we want to see them. Help us instead to see as you see, revealing to each of us ways of viewing the world that honor you, that we would be a light to a watching world in the way we interpret and respond to all things. Build up our church to be a people who think and act in ways that exalt Jesus over all things. Give us courage and boldness to do this in the areas of influence you have given us, in our homes, in our workplaces, in our families, in our hobbies, and in our own church. We ask this in Jesus’ name. 


For further application, consider the following questions and prompts. 

  • Is the worldview iceberg principle familiar to you already? If not, does the principle appear to offer a sensible view of how people form their inner thoughts and outer lives? 
  • Which of the four main question and answer categories according to a Christian worldview most encourages you?
  • Which of the four main question and answer categories according to a Christian worldview is most challenging to you? 
  • Summarize the four main question and answer categories in your own words, adding other Scripture that comes to your mind to support a Christian worldview. 
  • On a scale of no agreement to total agreement, where would you say you currently reside in terms of agreeing with the Christian worldview answers in response to the worldview questions posed (i.e. origin, problem, solution, hope)?

For further study, check out Citylight Institute’s “Forming a Christian Worldview” seminar recording and handout.