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The doubter’s gift

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By Rev. Michael Duncan

Most of us start out believing whatever we believe about whatever because someone we trust told us it was the truth.  For a while, it is enough.

“The stove is hot.  Don’t touch!” Momma warned.  For a few people, the warning is enough.  For others, there will always be the necessity of testing the warning. 

For some people, truth of anything is affirmed if the right people say it is so.  John trusts Frank.  Frank tells John that the stock market will continue to rise over the next six months.  John increases his investment.

Ralph says that one can trust Jesus and lives in that trust.  He can’t figure out why his friend Martin just doesn’t believe Jesus is real.  “The Bible tells his story,” Ralph tells Martin.  “But who wrote that Bible?” queries Martin.  “But, Martin, you have to trust someone. The people who wrote the Bible saw stuff.  The ones who wrote the Gospels either saw Jesus or knew folks who did,” Ralph counters.  “Ralph, I won’t believe until I see him for myself.”  Ralph despairs because he knows it is not possible for Martin or anyone living today to see Jesus.

But how can anyone believe unless she sees?  Confessing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God is life-changing.  Will anyone dare to make life-changing decisions without seeing the truth for himself?

I give thanks for the disciple Thomas who refused to believe unless he saw for himself what others claimed to be true.  Perhaps there are those who believe merely because of another’s testimony.  Perhaps some of those are even willing to die for that belief.  I am not among their number.

I first believed because of what others said about Jesus.  It was enough for a while.  It ceased to be enough when I realized the cost of being Jesus’ disciple.  Denying one’s self, taking up the cross, and following Jesus requires more than the word of another.  It requires an encounter with Jesus.

Before I fully understood the meaning of Jesus’ invitation to two of John the Baptist’s disciples, I responded.  When those disciples acknowledged their curiosity about Jesus, a curiosity raised because John the Baptist had named Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus said, “Come and see.”

I came and saw.  I believed and believe.

Come and see for yourself. You really can’t believe until you’ve taken an honest look at Jesus and have done so over a period of time.