Since God speaks in His word, we believe that St. Paul was writing at the behest of the Spirit’s voice. Often people of faith feel that they have betrayed God or the Faith because they doubt or question what they believe. Certainly, there are good reasons for thinking this, but to feel this way without also knowing the good we do in our questioning is unfortunate. 2 Corinthians, one of Paul’s Epistles to the Christians in the Greek city of Corinth, was dealing with a body of believers who were growing in discord with St. Paul. There were false teachers and persons among them that were “poisoning the well,” creating doubt about St. Paul’s character, ability, and motivation. Paul then writes 2 Corinthians to this group with the hopes of reestablishing the rapport he once enjoyed so that these “untrue persons” causing trouble would not succeed in derailing the Corinthians from their faith in God. Near the close of this Epistle, St. Paul writes:
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test.”
Much could be said on these two verses, but I want to focus on the first two commands: “Examine yourselves . . .” and “Test yourselves.” To question yourself to see if you hold to the faith (. . . to see whether you are in the faith”) is fulfilling a biblical command or God’s command. The doubt we might feel or the questions we pose — which we could be shamed for in our communities of faith — should not be greeted by others as patently or clearly sinful or worrisome. Indeed, we may be fulfilling what God commands in 2 Corinthians 13:5 – 6 by this very questioning. It is a striking fact that failure to question one’s faith would be disobedience to this explicit biblical command. It is clear that someone’s doubt or questioning of the faith could evoke worry from us; and it is equally as clear that in some cases or in some ways it should. Nevertheless, it should evoke genuine joy in their fulfilling of God’s command. There is a careful balance that must be struck in communities of faith where persons are truly doubting and questioning. On the one hand, we must care for them in great concern to guide, help, and point to the “right” direction — assuming we have it ourselves. On the other hand, we should be inspired and glad for their questioning of their faith in accord with what God commands.
To question may be an indication of God’s activity in your life, not the absence of it.