Do You Have Doubts?
Doubt is still one of those taboo subjects and issues within the church today. We all have our doubts about something at sometime, even our faith.
What have you struggled with to believe?
At youth group one night, I got to spend some time with the young people. The topic we discussed was doubt. I loved hearing the teens’ heart for Jesus and how they try to show their friends the love of God through Jesus Christ even if their friends do not believe.
Think about how you came to believe, fully, that there is a God. Think about your life before following Jesus Christ and how your life is now. If we took time, everyone would tell a different story/version of how he or she came to faith. Each of us comes to faith in Christ in different ways.
If you are reading this today and haven’t fully believed, maybe you’ve been in church your whole life but still struggle with your faith. What’s stopping you? What’s holding you back? These questions are not meant to embarrass you in any way. Think about how you would like Jesus Christ to reveal Himself to you. That’s what the disciple Thomas did.
Our passage below begins with the evening of the resurrection and Jesus appearing to ten of His remaining disciples. His followers had paid attention to the crucifixion (one was actually present—John), and they knew what death was. They were also confident that people did not come back from the dead unless it was by the power of God.
The news of Jesus’ resurrection—being alive again—was a HUGE shock to the early followers (truthfully, many are still skeptical today), but when they witnessed Him and experienced Him living, they spread the news like wildfire. The world has never been the same.
READ JOHN 20:19–31
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
WHAT’S THE POINT?
Let’s go through this passage backwards. The point of this passage, really the entire book of John, is that you will believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah (the Savior and Redeemer), the Son of God (God in the flesh, walking and living this life as we walk and live it).
The reason John wrote this book was so the early followers, and now us, will believe and have LIFE in Jesus’ name.
Don’t we all think we have life figured out? That we know what we’re doing? But here is something to consider: IF we have real life, through Jesus Christ, we are going to be the people who are the kindest, hardest working, most compassionate, loving, peaceful people in the world. Why would we not want to experience life with so much joy and hope that no matter what is going on, we can still experience the full presence of God in our lives and in the world?
One of the reasons people claim they do not go to church, or follow Jesus, is because they say the church is full of hypocrites. This brings many people to a place of doubt and uncertainty in God. But the reality is that we are all hypocrites. We all say one thing and do another at times. This is what it’s like to live in a fallen world, marred by sin and death. This is the reality of being a fallen, imperfect human being. This is the reality, until we understand that Jesus Christ desires to work in us, to transform us to be His new creations to work with Him to transform and redeem all of creation.
If we say we believe in Jesus Christ and follow him, what does this mean? The word believe has really been over used in our culture and has been downgraded to basically mean opinion. This is why we hear people say things like, “I believe ________ will win the Super Bowl,” “I believe _______ is the best.”
Belief is so much more than just a simple opinion. Belief is resting the whole weight of who we are on the matter. Now, are we more willing to publically admit that believing strawberry jelly is better than grape jelly is on the same level and the same line of thinking as when we verbally admit and confess Jesus Christ is in control and is with us each and every day?
ASK THE QUESTIONS
If there is something we are still trying to understand BEFORE we come to a place of belief, always remember to ASK THE QUESTIONS.
Throughout the past couple thousand years, Thomas really has gotten the raw end of the deal. We see him asking for evidence of the risen Christ. This has been used to show that it is bad to have doubt because he could not see or didn’t see the evidence when everyone else did.
The reality is that Thomas did not lose his faith in God. He was grieving the human loss of one of his closest friends, his teacher, his Lord. Thomas knew Jesus had died and was buried in the tomb. It would be difficult to believe that He came back to life after that kind of death unless he personally saw the evidence. Doesn’t this sound like our culture? ASKING THE QUESTIONS is an important thing.
We often hear that we should not be a “doubting Thomas.” We hear that we should have faith to believe because “blessed are those who believe and have not seen.” Would we say a person is wrong when they ask for proof in a murder trial? No. The other disciples had their proof and Thomas was just asking for the same thing. He would not be satisfied until he got the proof he was wanting. Neither would we.
DOUBT LEADS TO UNDERSTANDING
Thomas shows us that when we ask the questions and seek the facts—seek the truth—DOUBT LEADS TO UNDERSTANDING.
This is important because doubting really can be okay. It is okay, even as a Christian, to express doubt. To be a follower of Jesus Christ does not mean that we are free from any doubt. It simply means that we are constantly seeking and watching for Jesus Christ to work in the world. When we see it, we are always amazed.
Children are fed. The paralyzed walk. Addicts become clean. Communities turn around for the better.
Having doubt does not make you or me any less of a Christian. Doubt is a way to express uncertainty.
When we ask the questions, and seek to allow our doubt to bring us to a place of understanding, we can begin to see what others are talking about and what they have experienced.
But, we should be careful to not allow our doubt, or any uncertainty we have, to bring us to a place of becoming cynical. Ask the questions, but patiently wait for the answers.
STAY CONNECTED WITH BELIEVERS
Jesus will make himself known to you in many ways. Reading the Bible is one way we can hear His words and allow His spirit to touch our lives.
We can experience the risen Christ through prayer, especially when we take time to listen as we pray.
We can study how God has worked in the world to see what we should be looking for.
We can experience the risen Christ through the people around us.
This is why it is so important to STAY CONNECTED WITH BELIEVERS.
Keep a close group of friends to share life with. We all need people to encourage us, to listen to us, to talk with us. Growing in our faith cannot be done individually without the support of fellow believers in Jesus Christ.
Staying connected with people who believe helps us see Christ in ways we never would have expected in the world, maybe even in our own homes.
When the future is uncertain or we doubt the direction of any organization, business, community, church, or relationship, it is even more important to stay in relationship with people who have faith in Jesus Christ. We do this, not just to hear what we want to hear, but to hear the grace and love of Jesus Christ transforming our lives so that we pay more attention to the bigger picture and keep our eyes on what God is doing.
If we focus more on the negative, we become more isolated and reclusive. We’ll stop seeing the good there is in the world, which can mean that we’re not doing the work that God is calling us to do.
Being part of a faith community gives us a chance to be real with each other. We all have times when we are battling internal conflicts, maybe conflict on some level with other people. These are times we need to be around people who have truly experienced the risen Christ in their lives. This is one of the ways we can experience the peace from God that is beyond understanding.
PEACE IS THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST
Remember this: PEACE IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF CONFLICT. PEACE IS THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST.
Jesus Christ will always come to us, especially when we notice His presence. He will give a peace that is beyond understanding, which eases the doubt. Notice how He will answer any questions we have. He will always find ways to give Himself to you and me.
We will all face times of doubt and uncertainty. This is okay. Life will hit us hard at times. Remember that we live in a fallen world. But most importantly, above all things, remember this:
CHRIST IS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE!
HE IS RISEN!
HE IS WITH YOU!
He is working in the world.
He will find ways to show you He is alive, now and always.
He will work in and through other people to help you in times of doubt or uncertainty.
He is always showing us that He is alive.
Do you believe?