Thursday, April 8, 2010

Doubting Thomas

We continued with the "Perspectives" series this week and began the night with the following question: What are you doing now that requires faith? It's a tough question to ponder but one that we need to consider daily. We looked at the Apostle Thomas this week. We don't know a whole lot about him, but what we do know we usually see in a fairly negative manner. We know him as "Doubting Thomas" and it's a label that we never want to receive. You may be wondering what that initial question has to do with Thomas, but I promise it ties together.

Like I said before, we know very little about him but here are a few things that we do know. He was also called Didymus which means "the twin". Apparently he had a twin but he or she is never mentioned in scripture. Thomas is only mentioned in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke when the list of the twelve disciples are mentioned. The only times we read him speak are in the gospel of John. Each time he is listed as one of the twelve disciples he is mentioned in the middle of the group. If you study much about these twelve men or read such works at John MacArthur's Twelve Ordinary Men you can see the inner circles within the twelve disciples. With Thomas always mentioned in the middle lets us know that he would have been fairly close to Jesus, not as close to Him as Peter, but closer than Judas Iscariot. Thomas was probably a pessimist, always seeing the dark or worst in situations. I don't say all of this to completely knock him down because I am sure that he did great things, but we can also learn from this example from him. When Lazarus was sick and after two days Jesus was going to go to him, the disciples tell Jesus that he will be killed because the people there hate him. In John 11:16 Thomas speaks up and says that if that's the case then they should go die with Jesus. This shows both him thinking the worst that Jesus would die by going there, but also that he was willing to die with Jesus. Then later on when Jesus tells the disciples that He is going to prepare a place for them. Thomas then speaks up in John 14:5 saying that they don't know where He is going and how do they know the way. Jesus then responds with the popular verse 6 by saying that He is the way, and the truth, and the life...

Now we get to the place in scripture that we truly know Thomas for in John 20:24-29. We see Thomas doubt that Jesus has risen from the grave. We can take this and focus on topics such as doubting the existence of God, doubting the deity of Jesus Christ, or even doubting salvation but I want to look at another aspect. Doubt is the absence of faith. Faith is the complete trust or confidence in God. So when we doubt, we have lost confidence in God. We no longer believe that He will take care of us, and we even stop believing that He can use us. I believe it is in these moments when we choose comfort over anything. We don't try to reach others with the gospel and instead choose to remain where it is comfortable. The progression goes like this: we doubt that God can use us - we lose faith - we choose comfort above all else. But we read in Hebrews 11:6 that it is impossible to please God without faith. So we must be willing to stretch ourselves, have faith that God can use us, and seek to spread the gospel. I admit that I'm guilty of falling into the trap of comfort. I shared with the students last night that where some might have trouble getting in front of a group to share a message or lead worship, I thrive on that. I love doing these things. But to talk to someone face to face and talk directly to them about their faith absolutely terrifies me sometimes. Actually most of the time. But I have to be willing to trust that God can use me, will speak through me, and not have doubt.

In closing I talked about how in The Chronicles of Narnia that when Mr. and Mrs. Beaver are telling the children about Aslan, the lion representation of God. Lucy asks the question "Is he safe?" Mr. Beaver replies "Of course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the king I tell you." God is good, but he isn't always safe meaning he may allow you to be in an uncomfortable situation, or even sometimes experience pain in order for Him to be glorified. If it takes that for Him to be glorified and for the world to come to know Him then isn't it so worth it? So ask God to search your heart and ask yourself this question: What am I doing that requires faith?

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