Last week Allen had a great post regarding doubt that resounded with parts of my story as a minister and as a follower of Christ. Because, the common response of Christians to the doubter isn’t always effective or even warranted.
Just look at the response of Christ to his beloved disciple, Thomas:
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.” John 20:27
For Thomas to really believe, he had to experience Jesus as he was where he was. That is, experiencing Christ at that moment meant dealing with his wounds, and the reality that he meant everything he ever said.
So for Thomas he had to accept at that moment that in the resurrection, Christ now reigned and demanded his whole self.
That meant for Thomas he had to do as Jesus did:
– hang out with sinners
– love the rejected
– hack off the religious establishment
– stand up for the marginalized
When Jesus said “stop doubting and believe”, I think he was saying “believing in me means following me, not just talking about how to do it.” My theory is for Thomas to overcome his doubt he would have to really live out what Jesus said, experience what it meant to die and live again.
And, isn’t that just the way we avoid when we deal with doubting friends? At the first sign of doubt or unbelief we go into crisis mode and try to “fix” our friends. Instead, what if we let Jesus do the talking instead of engaging in rationalization?
Because, I can’t believe that anyone would have convinced Thomas Jesus was alive by apologetics. He had to experience Jesus, see what he looked like, and actually go so far as to stick his hand in his side to be convinced.
So, if it takes that much for someone who doubts to believe, do we think that good logic or condescending conversation will change a person and their belief system?
May I suggest another way:
Recently I was led to a post by Justin Zoradi (Executive Director of These Names have Faces) about what to do during seasons of doubt. He reflected about a story from St. Christopher (cool guy, I’m sure).
An excerpt of his story: (please read the whole post, though)
Despite his gifts, he found it hard to believe in God. This, however, did not prevent him from using his gifts to serve others. He became a ferry-boat operator, spending his life helping to carry people across a dangerous river.
One night, during a storm, the ferry-boat capsized and Christopher dove into the dark waters to rescue a young child. Carrying that child to the shore, he gazed upon the child and saw there the face of Christ.
For Zoradi, a clear path back to God is to serve. Or to put in in another frame maybe we just go to the places where Christ spent his life: serving and loving the most vulnerable.
Because, like Thomas, Christ is asking us to experience him in a very real and visceral way. We get our hands dirty and gain a rugged belief by finding ways to be close to the action. We serve.
This post helped me because during my own times of disbelief, if I am being really honest, did not end because of some great philosophical revelation. It ended because God showed up in those places. When I dedicated myself to serving those he really cared about he showed up.
What do you think about this? Does this idea resonate?