category: Musings

Beyond Doubt

By Rachael Keefe

RCL – Second Sunday of Easter – April 15, 2012 Acts 4:32-35 Psalm 133 1 John 1:1-2:2 John 20:19-31 Today’s world could make a skeptic out of anyone, I think. Just look at some of the news this week. How many of us really thought Santorum would drop out of …

Beyond Doubt

RCL – Second Sunday of Easter – April 15, 2012

Acts 4:32-35
Psalm 133
1 John 1:1-2:2
John 20:19-31

Today’s world could make a skeptic out of anyone, I think. Just look at some of the news this week. How many of us really thought Santorum would drop out of the race before he actually did it? How many of us thought that George Zimmerman would be arrested for Trayvon Martin’s murder? Do any of us believe that Syria will honor the ceasefire? Or that India and Pakistan will live in peace? Or that North Korea is only planning to launch a non-nuclear missile? Or that there is a cure for cancer out there? Or marriage equity will happen everywhere? Or that MIT really has designed “smart sand” that will be able to take on any shape?  The list goes on.

Of course, one could argue that there are many reasons to be skeptical about people and politics everywhere. We have history show us how hatred, greed, ignorance, and power can lead to all kinds of atrocious behavior. We also know that news is not really as unbiased as networks, reporters, and journalists would like us to believe. The nuances of events are often slanted to gain readers or viewers or listeners. We have very good reasons for not putting a lot of hope in the things we learn from the news.

I wonder, though, how much of this culture of skepticism influences faith. Thomas was reluctant to believe in the resurrection until he saw for himself, and I doubt he had nearly as many ways to verify facts and confirm information that we have at our fingertips today. Thomas didn’t have the luxury of Googling resurrection and all the stories surrounding it. But he held out until he experienced the risen Christ personally. Okay. I don’t blame him. But Jesus wasn’t thrilled with Thomas’ reluctance to accept what the others had told him.

Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.

I think it is safe to say that Jesus has not been seen in quite the same way he appeared to Thomas and the others in the intervening centuries. Most of us don’t have the opportunity to have our faith confirmed in  quite the way those first believers did. Googling Christianity or Jesus Christ or Resurrection really isn’t much help. Even when we have experienced Christ in some way, it is hardly considered proof of Christ’s existence. To be honest, there are days when I wish Jesus would just walk into the room where I was and prove his identity beyond doubt.

But, then again, I’m not sure that would change anything. Those who believe would go right on believing and those who don’t believe probably still wouldn’t. I guess the good news is that Thomas didn’t need to actually touch Jesus’ wounds. So the rest of us can live with our doubts. But faith, being a Christian doesn’t stop here. It can’t. The world is a mixed up place with a whole lot of darkness in it.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Fellowship with one another is the answer. Fellowship will light the darkness. Faith communities will give us refuge in the storms of deceitful politics, foolish injustice, and disturbing ignorance. Perhaps in the company of each other, we will not give up hope of a better world where all people try to live what they claim to believe.

I don’t know about you, but I want to believe that one day racism, homophobia, injustice, and war won’t exist. Cancer can be cured and people can pool resources across the globe. I’m just not sure that these things are really possible. But, if Jesus can rise from the dead and sand can be “smart,” maybe it’s time to be more hopeful than skeptical?

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

So I guess it is time to step out of that nice safe place where we wait for things to change because if we are going to meet Jesus, it won’t be there. He’s all about doing new things and he’s already walked into a locked room. Time for something new.

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About Rachael Keefe

Rachael is an author, a pastor, a teacher, and a poet. Her latest book (The Lifesaving Church - Chalice Press) is on faith and suicide prevention. She is currently the pastor of Living Table UCC in Minneapolis, and has launched a spiritual direction practice.

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