Wednesday, March 27, 2013

No penalty for their doubts

Christ is the founder and initiator of the new era God is bringing about through Jesus’ victory over sin and death. Jesus’ resurrection from death opens the way for all who trust in him to follow him in a resurrection like his when he returns. This is important because it shows that our ultimate hope is not just for our souls to go to heaven, but for our physical bodies to be raised to new life like Jesus’ was. He is the firstborn of the resurrection. By faith we believe it. Always.

Say "No" to doubts

Many of us grow up hearing the refrain from James, “the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind” (1:6). Many of us are told over and over again that there is no room for doubt or skepticism in the Kingdom of God. But is that truly the message portrayed in Scripture? Should we really feel the sting of shame over asking questions and expressing hesitation?

Jesus’ response to doubt was often, why? He proposed neither a condemnation nor an accolade, but a dialogue. Jesus cared about the hearts, motives, and fears of those who questioned him, who struggled with unbelief. Practically everyone to whom Jesus ministered expressed genuine doubt or asked provoking questions. But Jesus healed them anyway. Jesus answered their questions (John 3:1-21). Jesus told them things about themselves, causing them to look at life in a new way (John 4:7-45). When extraordinary faith was shown (Luke 7:1-10) Jesus was astounded and overjoyed. But he certainly did not condemn all others of lesser faith. He knew that it takes time for people to overcome cultures of fear and questions.

God has big plans for us, plans to bless us richly through belief and faith. This is evidenced by what Jesus told Thomas:

"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).

Suffering and hardship never end quickly enough. Waiting for God to intervene can test us to the breaking point. But remaining faithful to God is an opportunity to learn greater trust and dependence. In other words, we build a deeper, closer relationship with God. Suffering may cause us to question God's goodness; faithfulness is the path we must travel to uncover that goodness.

Christ doesn’t deny Thomas’ belief or turn him out on the street in penalty for his doubt. Rather, he stresses again the blessings that will be available to all men through the power of faith and belief. God has such rich things in store for us – but we cannot see them all yet. Jesus wanted to drill that into his followers since he knew he would not be with them physically for much longer.

God intends for us to discover the reality of our nature. Of course, it is impossible to fathom it entirely, but we can and must come to grips with the potential for evil that exists in every one of us. We must at least annually measure the extent that we have overcome the evil in us and the sincerity of our commitment to our relationship with God. 

If we sincerely ask God in faith, He will reveal our inward, hidden faults to us (see Psalm 19:12-13; 51:6; 139:23-24). It is important that we not be overly discouraged by what He reveals. It is human nature. It has lived and grown within us for as long as we have lived, and it takes long years to overcome its influence. In fact, we cannot entirely escape it in this flesh, a compelling reason Christians long for the resurrection at the return of Jesus Christ.


Raj Kosaraju

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