Doubt: The Faithful and Doubting Community

March 27, 2021    Lent B: Sabbath of the Palms      Glendale City Church     Sermon 6 of 8


  • Stage 1: Simplicity.     Right vs. Wrong.  Good vs. Evil.  Safe vs. Dangerous.
  • Stage 2: Complexity.  How do I succeed?  How do I win?  
  • Stage 3: Perplexity.     What is true?  Who can I trust?  What is worth standing for?
  • Stage 4: Harmony.       Second simplicity—this time trusting in Mystery.  Make peace living with doubt.
  • Faith After Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What to Do About It, Brian D. McLaren, 2021

Hebrews 12.18-19, 22-24, 28-29              You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm;to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them….  But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel….  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

  • Touching Mystery
  • Faith cycles through times of certainty and times of doubt.  
  • Like Palm Sunday—it was the day where Jesus was publicly recognized as Savior and it was also the day that sealed his doom.  

Galatians 5.1, 4-6   It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope…. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

What Spirituality Boils Down To

  • The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.  
  • God Loves Us.  We Love Others.  God Is Loved through Our Love for Others.    

M. Scott Peck: Characteristics of Harmonious Community

  • Inclusive—keeps working at removing requirements for people to be in relationship with each other
  • Committed—consciously choosing to stay in community no matter what.  Stick-to-it-iveness.
  • Consensus—coming to agreement while continuing to respect differences
  • Realistic—recognizing the light and dark that is present within the group and each individual
  • Contemplative—it doesn’t assume it’s reached perfection; it continues to be reflective and humble
  • Safe—Vulnerability is celebrated and respected.  We don’t fix people. We let the safe space heal people. 

Life-Long Learning: How a Church Can Meet People at Each Stage

At Vallejo Drive, I tried something with the youth and young adult ministry.  I tried doing a Friday night gathering with options for stages 2-4.  I had labeled each of the four stages with a word that ended in “x:”

  • Stage 1: Basix – God loves us.  Let us love others. Obey God and parents…
  • Stage 2: Practix – Family, Marriage, Sex, Career, Bible Study, 12-Step Groups…
  • Stage 3: Heretix – Comparative Religion, Science & Scripture Compatibility, Grief Support Groups…
  • Stage 4: Mystix – Contemplation, Spiritual Disciplines, Justice Ministries…

Mission of Glendale City Church: Revealing Christ, Affirming All

Our mission is to reveal the love of Christ in all its tenderness and grandeur to the community in which we live. We desire to embrace the wonder of humanity in its complexity, diversity, and beauty—and to do so without precondition. In short, we yearn to reveal the splendor of Christ and to affirm the worth of all people.

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