Just in case you missed the April 19th sermon...
Whether a faithful Christian or a devout atheist, we have all heard and used the expression DOUBTING THOMAS. It is a label we give to pessimistic people. In each group there is always that one person who says, “THAT WILL NEVER WORK!” or “THAT IS A DUMB IDEA.” They are the DOUBTING THOMASES. They just never see the possibility of success.
Thomas is the epitome of DOUBTERS. We label him as some kind of GRAND FAILURE. The only person worse than Thomas is JUDAS. I mean, we give a pass to Peter who denied Jesus three times, and yet in the same breath we condemn Thomas. JESUS SURE PICKED TWO LOSERS IN JUDAS AND THOMAS.
Is there another side to doubt? Yann Martel writes, “If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.
The question is, “What are the causes of doubt?” (1) Fear of what others will think of you; (2) You don’t believe you have the talent to do something; (3) Afraid you will fail; (4) Afraid that a new opportunity will lead to a dead end. To let doubt rule in your heart and mind leaves you with the lingering question, “WHAT IF…”
There is a related question, and that is: Do I have the courage, the commitment, and the faith to overcome those doubts? Jesus certainly had doubts but he did not let those doubts overcome his faith, his courage, and his commitment to God and the cause for which he came. And the same can be said of Thomas.
The last command that Jesus gives to his Apostles was go and preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. Doubting Thomas overcame his doubts, overcame his fear, and took the gospel to India and even parts of China. Thomas was so good at proclaiming the gospel and making so many converts that a group of Hindu priests who worshiped the goddess Kali, the goddess of death, murdered Thomas. If you go to the Indian province of North Paravur, you will see a chapel built by Thomas and those who converted to the Christian faith.
These are tough times and we can be overcome with DOUBTS. The question is, what can, what will you do with those doubts? Will you let those doubts immobilize you or will you grab your doubts by the throat and deal with them? What can you do? Getting tuned in to our web worship on Sunday and getting started on the Zoom worship on Wednesday is a good start. Get involved in the two Bible studies that are available to you. Get on the prayer chain. Call someone in the congregation and talk with them, even if you don’t know them. Get a cup of coffee, call someone, tell them you are a member of Immanuel and say, “If you have time I’d love to get to know you.”
Pray for each other. Now is the time to ask those religious, theological questions you have never asked before. Email me, or call me and let’s discuss those questions. Write a family history for your children and grandchildren. My good friend Sister Mary Luke, a Roman Catholic Nun, and I were teaching an ecumenical Bible study one time. We started out talking about the Bible and I said there were four gospels. Sister Luke interrupted me and said, “There are five gospels.” I knew I had her, and I said, sarcastically, “Go ahead and name them.” She replied, “Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the one you write with your life.” So, write down your faith story. How you came to faith, how your faith has shaped your life, and share with it with your children and your grandchildren. Get in on a free online exercise program. Make a list five things that you have never done before, but will do when this virus is over. Use your doubt to increase your FAITH, YOUR COMMITMENT, and your TRUST IN GOD. AMEN.