On my first date ever with Michelle she told me she used to fight MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) in New York. Clearly I was like “Yeah right!” until I found myself being choked out on the floor in front of my friends. Guys, I’m not proud to admit it, but I had to tap out. I tapped! And that’s the last time I doubted her. Also, by the laws of MMA, I was obligated to marry her.
The truth is, we all have our doubts and questions- about politics, about the pandemic, about your girlfriend’s surprising upper body strength, and even about God. Can I quickly share with you a few of my questions around God, because I think it will be helpful if you hear me say it first. I have questions sometimes about my faith. Like, there was a structure fire the other night near my house where a 6 year old girl died. Why? God, why!? I can’t understand the purpose in that! Or this pandemic plaguing the world. How does God let that happen? Or come on, murder hornets? Are you kidding me!? I bet some of you are struggling with the same questions- and I don’t know about you but it makes me feel bad as a Christian, like, I believe in God but seriously, some of this stuff is just crazy- and I’ve got that Christian guilt going on. Does that make me a bad Christian? Let me tell you what I found in scripture that is going to help us all sleep a little easier tonight.
I’m looking in Matthew’s Gospel and at the end he accounts the Great Commission, and the Great Commission is basically Jesus’s commencement speech, right? It’s graduation for His disciples. Like this is his “win one for the gipper” where he basically says “Alright, we’ve been together the past three years and it’s been a wild ride, but now I’ve gots to go…so go change the world.” That’s the Great Commission. So Matthew says the 11 Disciples go to Gallilee to the mountain where Jesus told them to go and he says “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him, but some doubted.” Some worshipped, but some doubted. And I don’t know but I find this completely comforting because I wasn’t there to see Jesus in person, but these 11 were. In fact they’ve dedicated the past three years of their lives following Jesus around from town to town performing miracles, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, and then stood there and with their own eyes watched Him crucified on a cross, buried in a tomb, and three days later be the first and only man in history to raise himself from the dead.
And yet still, some of them doubted.
I want you to know today that your doubts don’t disqualify you from God’s love. Look, some of His own disciples, after witnessing all the miracles first hand were like “Nah, I don’t think so” “Nah, still not sure.” “The jury’s still out on this one”, right? But Jesus is still Jesus- and he didn’t need to clear up those doubts before sending them out to change the world. Having doubts doesn’t make you a bad Christian. Having doubts makes you human. Get this, having doubts isn’t the absence of faith, but our doubt invites us into deeper faith. Questions and doubts are not the problem, they’re the key to a deeper faith. So what do we do about our doubts? I want to share with you three things that help me, and I believe helped the disciples:
First, we bring our questions to God. Why? Because God is bigger than our questions. We see the pandemic on a massive scale, but God is bigger. And so how does God respond? In love and power. I’m going to bring my questions to God, but because I know my God is using this pain and suffering for something greater- even if I don’t see it yet.
Second, we’re going to talk about our doubts with each other. This is how we process! Find a safe person to talk to, have doubts, ask questions, dig deep. How did Matthew know some of the disciples had doubts? Was he a mind reader?? No! They discussed their doubts with each other. If you don’t have someone in your life you can do that with, come hang out with me. Let’s get coffee. I have some doubts I need to run by you.
Lastly, We’re going to choose to follow Jesus anyway, because if I don’t follow Jesus, I’ll end up turning to something else to follow, and that something else might destroy my life. I’m going to follow Jesus anyway because despite my doubts, despite my questions, I believe at the end of the day in the resurrection and that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.
And while some of them worshipped, and some doubted- ALL of them chose to follow Jesus anyway. In fact, 10 of the 11 were eventually murdered for their faith. They could have just said “Just kidding about the whole Jesus thing!” and been spared, but they didn’t, and they went to their graves proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord. The 11th one was exiled for his faith.
Having doubts isn’t the absence of faith, but invites us into a deeper faith. We’re not bad Christains, we’re just human- and Jesus? Well, He’s still Jesus, and He doesn’t need to clear up those doubts.
Now go, change the world.