Doubting Christians

Life Notes—April 12, 2012

“But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’”  John 20:25b

Many of us feel guilty for our doubts.  “Have a little faith,” we’re told.  But still we worry.  When my children were younger, they would say, “Trust me, daddy, I know what I am doing.”  Either I had little faith and doubted they actually knew what they were doing, or I had faith that they did not know what they were doing.  Either way I doubted and felt it my place to keep a watchful eye on them. 

Jesus told his followers if they had faith the size of a mustard seed they could move mountains.  Given the size of a mustard seed that probably wasn’t a compliment.  So we know faith, properly exercised, can be a powerful force. Most of us have a lot of faith in some things, like the sun rising in the east.  And most of us have very little faith in other things, like winning big in the lottery.  It is in the area between the extremes where our faith differences become more pronounced.  I saw a sign in a store once that read, “In God we trust, all others pay cash.”  I remember former President Reagan saying, with regard to relations with theSoviet Union, “Trust, but verify.”  Surely, there are times that doubting is perfectly appropriate.  In fact, it is often our doubts that inform and develop our faith.  If we do not question what we are told, how are we to learn?  For me, memorization is a poor teacher.  I learn much better from wrestling with something. 

Some religions teach trusting God entirely for healing, shunning the health system altogether.  Others believe God blesses us with knowledgeable and competent healthcare workers who should be utilized in times of need.  God works through physicians and nurses and other professionals and to not access those resources is akin to ignoring any other vital resource God provides for our needs.  Who is exercising greater faith?  Perhaps it is not so much a question of faith as a question of degree.  How much do we trust God to work through others, as opposed to how much do we trust God to act alone? 

I do not believe having reasonable doubts conflicts with Christianity.  In fact, I believe it is very Christian to doubt and search for answers.  In the passage above, one of Jesus’ original, personally-selected disciples refused to believe Christ had risen from the grave until he could feel the marks of the nails on Jesus’ body.  Thomas needed tangible proof.  And sometimes we do, too.  I think God understands.  Sometimes, it is the search for answers that draws us closest to God. 

Tom’s sermon downtown is “We Believe in Jesus Christ,” based on John 20:19-31.  Life worship begins at 10:00 AM in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  Mitch preaches at the west campus where worship at 9:00 and 11:00. 

Come home to church this Sunday.  Bring your doubts to the altar of Christ.

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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