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."
The Bible on Homosexuality
The Bible is not arranged topically to address the issues that arise in our lives or in the consciousness of any culture or society. It is not a book we can easily run to in order to find neat answers to the concerns raised by people living far removed from the circumstances of the Ancient Near East of First Century Palestine. That is just not how it was designed.
Life's issues are generally much more complex than what we might dig from the Bible by quickly looking up a few words in a concordance or web search. Some themes are treated throughout the texts that compose the Bible. Others are hardly present at all. What one text may seem to say another might spin differently, challenging us to take a closer look at the first passage and the second, as well.
When it comes to a topic like homosexuality, we are dealing with a short list of passages that may or may not have anything to do with what we understand as homosexuality. To further complicate matters, …
Almighty Gun, we worship you. It is in you we place our trust and hope for our security. Where fifty-eight or more lie dead, We pass legislation for more of your presence. We hope you will protect us from our fears, Our fear of the "Other," the immigrant, the stranger, the colored ones. We fear our lives might be taken by those marketing terror. All the while, we are the ones in terror. We are the ones who instill, promote, and extend our own terror. We live in fear. We pack heat to make us feel stronger, more virulent, more protected. We return to the world of make-believe, in which we are the heroes standing up to the enemies all around us. We pray you will provide the energy and the aim we need. We pray you will protect us from our fears of unknown enemies. Then one of us takes a last stand, firing rounds from automatic weapons. "No, the guns are not to blame!" If only there were more gun worshippers present to stop the hail of lead! If only there were one more gun to halt the a…
We often have difficulties in dealing with psychological disorders. We are so used to thinking that we can be in control of ourselves, our actions, our speech, and our decisions that it is very hard to grasp that a psychological disorder is just as much an infirmity as appendicitis, cancer, pneumonia, or gout. It makes it harder for us to deal with something like clinical depression along the same lines as we deal with the flu, diabetes, or acid reflux. It is hard enough for us to understand dementia or Alzheimer's in a way that does not attribute shame or guilt on the victims of these conditions. With mental illnesses like depression, we tend to treat them as moral failures instead of health conditions which can be treated by a physician. Why is it so hard for us to treat people with love and acceptance instead of casting shame and condemnation for things beyond their control? Of all psychological disorders, perhaps depression is one we are most ready to deal with as a moral failu…