I Double Dog Doubt It…

The youth just finished up a two week series on doubt and the role it plays in a life of faith. We started out like last week by looking at the character of Thomas “the doubter”. The funny thing is that Thomas’ nickname as “doubter” always seems to be considered a bad thing, yet Jesus never tells him his doubt has pushed him away from faith. In fact, the Thomas narrative is the last story we read of before John gets to the thesis of his Gospel in John 20:31, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” The last miracle we read of before John finishing his account of the life of Christ is not that Thomas doubted and Christ showed up- the miracle is that Jesus cares enough about us to alleviate our doubts. He won’t leave us out to dry. 

Jesus who knew the scriptures front and back (for obvious reasons) was quite aware of the accounts of doubt in the scripture. Doubt as a concept (doubting God’s existence) was a pretty foreign concept to ancient Israelites, but doubting whether or not God would come through for Israel was not. In fact, Jesus called to mind a Psalm that both spoke of doubt and was a foreword looking prophecy about Jesus, the coming Messiah, when he quoted the first line of Psalm 22 while hanging from the cross. The line went like this, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 

Many have interpreted this as meaning that God actually turned his back on Jesus while he hung on the cross. They say that since God can’t be in the presence of sin, and Christ took on all sin, God left Jesus. I think that’s a wrong interpretation for a couple of reasons. First, that says that there is some place in this plane of existence that can be devoid of God’s presence, since God somehow left. That’s not right according to the picture painted about God in the rest of the Bible. Even more than that, though, is knowing that first century Jews, like Jesus, had to quote sections of scripture by reciting the first line of that section. The Bible wasn’t numbered into chapters and verses until around 1400 AD by some monks, so before then you would ask people to open to sections of scripture by quoting the first line of it to them. Jesus, when calling out “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” was not posing an actual question to God himself, but was reminding those at the foot of the cross of Psalm 22, a Psalm of David. That Psalm speaks of David doubting whether or not God would come through for him. The beginning of the lament Psalm starts out with David stating his position, where he felt abandoned by God. He was speaking both for himself, and perhaps for the Messiah, but David ultimately acknowledged that he felt abandoned by God. 

Have there been times in your life where you felt abandoned by God? Maybe your parents were divorced when you were in elementary school and that left you feeling uncertain about God and why he would allow that. Maybe you were abused as a child and wonder where God was while you were being hurt. Maybe you had your heart broken by a boyfriend and wondered why God let you get into that mess in the first place. We have doubts about God’s sincerity. That’s okay. David did. But he didn’t just run away from his doubts- he took them straight to God (and made a song about them… huh). 

We can take our doubts to God. He’s big enough to handle them. If the God you believe in can’t handle your “brilliant questions” then you aren’t serving a big enough God. The God of the BIble can handle your questions. Before you were born he knew you. He predestined you to the fold of God. He isn’t afraid of your questions. 

David, throughout Psalm 22, came back to recognize that despite his doubts, and despite his worries about God, He always comes through for His people. Psalm 22:27-28 says, 

 

All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,
for dominion belongs to the Lord
    and he rules over the nations.

David came to realize that God is bigger than His doubts. That God, in his covenant faithfulness, does not forget His people. Ultimately, Christ will cause every knee to bow and tongue to confess that He is Lord. And that’s a good thing, because that same Jesus will come to us, and through every possible means (including walking through walls to put our hands in his wounds) will alleviate our doubts. 

So, may you remember that your doubts don’t scare God. May you remember that He can handle your tough philosophies. Your scientific inquiries. Your insecurities. God is bigger. And He loves you so much he’ll work through whatever means necessary so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God, and that believing in Him you may have everlasting life. May God’s shalom find shelter in your heart. 

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Jesus>the (future) President

Tomorrow, November 6th, Americans will head to the polls (if they haven’t mailed in already!) to vote for the next President of the United States. Presidential elections, thank God, only occur every 4 years. This year I’ve seen many of my friends and family alienated from one another because of emotional reactions to political opinions expressed in various formats. That, however, is not the subject of this blog.

The subject of this blog is what happens tomorrow night. After all the votes have been counted (which may actually take a couple of days), a President will have been decided. But something really odd happens after an election- some on the the “losing” side begin to wax depressed about how the country will fall into some dystopian state because “the other guy” won. People put so much stock in their political candidate, and invest so much emotional and intellectual energy into the cause of their preferred candidate that it negatively affects their disposition in a very strong way. I’m not saying it’s unnatural to have some sort of emotional reaction when you face disagreement, especially from half the country… but here’s what I am saying.

I’m writing this to ask Christians to check their hearts before heading to the polls. Many of you will feel this overwhelming sense of dread if your candidate loses. What if it means the end of America? Or at least America as we’ve known it? What if the newly elected President supports legislation you think is incredibly damaging? What if they’re pro-choice? What if they want to keep getting involved in foreign wars and conflicts? This will all lead to catastrophe!

Remember, when early Christians affirmed the statement, “Jesus is Lord” they did so in opposition to the Romans’ insistence that “Caesar is Lord.” Jesus fundamentally stood in opposition to the worship of the highest office in the land. Jesus is greater than any ruler. He’s the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, and I’m sure if the office existed during the writing of the Bible, he’d be the President of Presidents. These aren’t spiritual statements. They’re political statements. They all proclaim this one central truth: Jesus>.

Jesus>political parties.

Jesus>ideology.

Jesus>the President.

Jesus>fiscal policy.

Jesus>foreign policy.

Jesus>your candidate.

Plain and simple. Jesus is greater. All I want is for Christians to keep this in perspective as they approach the polls tomorrow.

If, after the election has been decided you feel a sense of dread, I would suggest you’ve elevated a man and his philosophy to the place of God in your heart. If you’re placing your hope of well being in who gets elected President, you’ve offloaded God’s responsibility to the President. If you believe that everything you’ve known can’t withstand a Republican or Democrat in office, you’ve elevated them to an unhealthy level, and rejected the teachings of Scripture. Remember, Romans 13:1 says that the authorities that exist have been placed in authority by God. God is truly the decider of elections. Not you. And He’s in control. So let Him do His thing.

So tomorrow, if you find yourself on the “losing” side, remember this: you are on the winning side because God is in control. Thank God, suck it up, and be a cheerful loser. Congratulate the “opponent”. Rejoice, because God has a better plan than you do. America is just a place, the Church is a people. People are always more important than a governmental system or political philosophy. Ultimately, tomorrow’s election will be simply that: God’s will being elected. All because Jesus is greater.