Thursday, January 28, 2016

Doubters Welcome... To Go!

The Great Commission: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..." What Christian hasn't at least heard of it before? But what are the circumstances leading up to it? Jesus' betrayal, His death, and resurrection? Sure, but what were the immediate circumstances?

Matthew 29:16-17 "Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted." They saw Him. They worshiped Him. Some doubted.

Doubted? Christians don't doubt. Do they? 

I can remember Saturday afternoon TV when I was a child. Six whole channels and nothing on. From time to time though, I'd be content enough to sit with my mom and watch the Joy of Painting; the talented Bob Ross quietly, gently assuring us of our hidden artistic talents: just follow his lead. He'd begin with the most nondescript blob of paint, make a few inconsequential brushstrokes and invoke his palette for the next blob. Within ten minutes the most beautiful landscape would appear. Within twenty, a village full of people working in the glow of a brilliant sunrise. By the end of the show, it all made perfect sense; a masterpiece was born! 

As Christians, our life with Jesus can be something like the Joy of Painting. Why, just this morning, as I was calling the body shop's manager a "knucklehead" -- yeah, it was not my noblest of moments. Long story short: an accident I was in three years ago has come back to haunt me. And it hasn't gotten any better. The customer dissatisfaction I experienced three years ago is still my current situation. The expense and inconvenience I incurred three years ago are still as expensive and inconvenient today. I've had it. The thing is, I cannot for the life of me understand why all this went down. Now, I'll grant you, this is hardly enough to make one doubt her faith, but take a few of these scenarios, string 'em all together, and it can be enough. Enough to make one wonder if the God she serves really cares. Enough to make one wonder if the God she relies on is really as mighty as He says. Enough to make one wonder if God's promises are true. Enough to make one wonder if "walking the walk" is worth the restraint it takes to keep from doing things her own way. But just as Bob would reveal so much beauty one ugly blob of paint at a time, the landscape of my life has not yet been perfectly revealed; the Master is still at work, whether I fully understand all that goes on or not. And just as I trusted for thirty minutes -- a lifetime to a rambunctious eight year old -- that a skilled professional would transform a blank canvas into a spectacle of beauty, my "eight year old" heart can trust The Artist even in times of doubt.

Doubt goes hand in hand with humanity. And we can doubt most strongly the things we believe with the most certainty. But it's that doubt that can sometimes get us to see things from a different angle; to start asking the questions that help us to see things in a new light. Notice in this passage, just before The Great Commission, doubt is nothing more than a passing acknowledgment. No fire and brimstone. No excommunication.  Not even a strong talking-to. Just three words. The human condition; and it doesn't scare Jesus.

And then, they were told to get out there and make disciples. Yep, even the doubters. Perfect faith, unwavering certainty not required. There's not a one of us who is perfect. Whether we're snapping at someone who doesn't deserve it, or wondering if God has forgotten us, we are all human. And we are all loved. God never requires us to be disciples or to make disciples in our own strength. That's why all were sent -- even those who had doubted. Jesus wants us to serve Him and spread His Gospel in spite of the questions we ask. The important thing is, we trust The Master and heed His command to go.
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