What to do with doubt
So, tomorrow morning we are treated to the feast of St Thomas (it having been transferred from December 21st) and the poor old Apostle‘s stereotype is dragged off the shelves again.
Reading the story again from John 20:24-29 and I have a near-as-ever alliterated 3-point sermon…
What to do with doubt…
- admit it
- accommodate it
- allow it to be confronted
1) Admit it, declare it, own it – don’t hide it
But don’t triumph in it (look how much I doubt!)!
See where it comes from
– are we just ‘one of those people’? (no criticism!)
– do we isolate ourselves? (Thomas’ absence after the crucifixion)
– faith is full of paradoxes – how well do we handle this?
Jesus doesn’t reject Thomas
– this appearance seems to be specifically for his benefit
2) Accommodate it in others (but don’t pander to it)
The disciples didn’t ‘expel the disbeliever from their midst’!
– he had challenged/denied their assertion and experience
What is our response when people don’t believe as we do?
– behave → believe → belong or behave ← believe ← belong
– yet at the same time, don’t encourage people to stay there
1) and 2) on their own lead nowhere
3) Allow it to be confronted by Jesus (who has all the answers)
Whilst Jesus didn’t reject Thomas… He didn’t leave him in his doubt
He knows how to challenge our unbelief perfectly
Thomas outlined conditions which would help him believe
– not ‘putting God to the test’, rather:
– “help my unbelief” (John 9:24)
‘the locked door’ (v26)
– fear and doubt go hand in hand
– surely he still longed for it to be true – but he needed to see
– just like John got to as he entered the tomb
– just as the other disciples got to in that same room
We are not permitted that great joy
– Jesus says we who have not seen and believe are blessed!
Are there parts of our faith which we question?
– don’t throw in the towel!
– God is not afraid of questions (nor is your Vicar, but ask God as well / first!)
Faith built on assurance of our own brilliance is very flawed!
– faith built on humility and dependence on Jesus…
‘Doubting Thomas’ saw and believed then went on to take the Gospel to India (apparently)
– can our honest, open doubts help others to take first steps?
– of course they can!
– but always wait for Jesus to come through the locked door