After decades of Biblical study, I continue to discover there is much deeper meaning than I had ever imagined.
Christ calls me to
-people I'd not expect;
-be politically active for justice;
-love without restriction;
-accept those from whom I would normally recoil;
-be a student of the Bible and also the society in which I live;
-see the economic, social, and spiritual struggles of others;
-be a prophetic voice for justice, mercy, compassion, grace, and love;
What about you?
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After Pentecost Devotional - Day 56
“They saw him and worshipped him, but some of them doubted.” Matthew 28:17
Doubts are a part of life. We are pretty good at doubts, and often as not they are good things. They serve to help us question what is before us and check the information we are given as to its validity. Doubts allow us to ponder, consider, and avoid jumping to conclusions on the basis of too little information or the vagaries of an emotional response. On the other hand, we don't want to remain in a position of doubting. It is not an appropriate destination, even while it can serve to guide us to the places we need to go.
We don't exactly know what led these disciples to doubt, nor what they were doubting. John gives us some hints, but he does not spell it out as clearly as we might want. There is some question of whether they recognized Jesus, as there are various passages of Jesus after the resurrection in which the disciples did not recognize him. It may be that they were still trying to wrap their minds around Jesus being resurrected. It may have been an issue of not understanding who Jesus was, of not accepting his divinity. Whatever the reason and definition of those doubts, the doubts existed.
While those doubts may have hindered the worship of the doubters, John offers no condemnation over those doubts. He simply points out the presence of doubt among some of the disciples. That matches up with what we see in Jesus' attitude in other related passages. He did not condemn those who doubted, while he did call them beyond the limitations of those doubts. He called them to press beyond to a place of growth and faith.
Doubts are not inimical to faith. They are not the opposite of faith. We need not fear them. Doubts are a necessary part of life. They may be a limiting factor in allowing faith its full range of life in the short term, but their presence does not cause faith to disappear. If anything, doubts serve to cause faith to grow. They force us to move beyond the limits of what faith has accepted. They prepare us to move forward into a deeper understanding and experience of faith. They challenge us to deal with issues we might otherwise ignore.
Where there are no doubts to accompany our faith, faith stagnates. It does not grow. It is not challenged. Where doubts are not allowed to exist, faith is kept from being able to grow, change, and respond with new understanding to circumstances for which we were not prepared.
For these disciples on the mountain with Jesus, accepting and understanding the resurrection meant taking a big leap forward. It was a necessary leap. It was a matter of great significance. The foundation for their grasp on Jesus as Messiah demanded this shift. They needed to rework so many of their assumptions about God. They needed to shift their paradigms to make room for Jesus as something more than a teacher and more than a military or political figure.
That transformation had to begin with doubts. They needed to doubt what they were seeing and what they had understood, in order to move forward with a new understanding that made sense of the Jesus before them. Doubts, after all, help us open doors of new understanding. They are pathways to growth, the start of something new.
Take the time to allow your doubts the room to challenge your own faith.
"Lord, keep me from suppressing doubts that I might allow you to grow my faith."
seminary days, I was considering that God was calling me into church
planting. Karen and I took the plunge in working on a church plant in
Michigan, then accepted a call to serve as church planter apprentices
in Mexico for two years. We then returned to the US and started a
Spanish-language church in Aiken, SC. That church is still going
strong after two decades of ministry. I studied church planting in a
compact seminary course and read a lot of the church growth
literature on the subject. I went to training sessions on church
planting offered by South Carolina Baptists. We then spent several
years on the mission field in Brazil watching the implementation of
those methods and hearing others talk about church planting and
church growth methodology. Along the way, I taught several aspects of
church planting in my seminary courses. I've also learned a few
things from my own experience, as well as reflecting on the successes
and failures of efforts to begin new churches.
like many of the praise and worship songs. I also like hymns. I like
some of the more classical pieces like Mozart and other formal works
like the John Rutter I sang in college choirs. Then again, that is
all beside the point. With
all the talk about praise and worship songs as a style of music, then
as the centerpiece of what it means to gather as the church, that is
where I start to feel a rub. What is wrong with praise and worship?
It is not they style of music, not that it focuses on praise or
worship. It is that is so often deflects and distracts us from what
it means to be believers and followers of Christ Jesus. There
is nothing wrong with raising your hand in the air as you sing along
with the band. There is nothing wrong with the theology presented in
many of the songs. It's actually more a question of what is not there
than what actually is. More
than anything, it is a question of depth. It is a question of
breadth. It is a question of content and of purpose. We
It's not about an empty tomb. It's not about a cross. It's not about an empty room. Nor yet reversing loss. His resurrection tore apart The grief and pain they felt. The jolt of joy within each heart Was not the purpose dealt. The reason that we celebrate Is not emotion's pow'r Nor history shall ever sate The meaning of the hour. The question we must ask again Is where does Christ abide? For Christ arose from death in vain Unless he lives inside. Without expression in our deeds, Our words do silent fall. Unless the hungry 'round us feed, Why celebrate at all? For Jesus rose to live again Not to be sung to sleep. Rehearsing history is vain Unless His will we keep. He's still within the darkened cave Unless our lives are spilled Of grace, compassion, neighbor love 'Til every tear be stilled So celebrate with hearty voice The resurrection tale And add to singing deeds of choice That Christ through us prevail…