Thursday, March 2, 2017

Watching a 100 Year Old Dead Man Get Out of His Casket

Not long ago, a member of the church where I was pastor died and I had the privilege of helping to preach his funeral. This particular gentleman was 100 years old and, even when he was sick and weak, was filled with more life than almost anyone I've ever met. When the funeral home arrived with his body and arranged his casket for the service, I was one of the only people there. For just a few moments I was alone with this man's body and I stood there watching him. For the first time in my life, I had a hard time believing someone was actually dead. I kept watching him and, I swear, it was like watching a twitching body. I just kept picturing him sitting up and leaving that casket and the image in my mind kept trying to superimpose itself on reality. I knew he was dead but I couldn't bring myself to believe it. It just didn't seem possible.

In Matthew 28, Jesus's disciples had a similar reaction at the opposite end of the spectrum. Jesus has been crucified and died but now he had risen and appeared to several of the women who had followed him. Jesus sent a message through those women that the disciples were to meet him at a preordained place in Galilee. So the 11 disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted (Matthew 28:16-17, HCSB). Jesus was standing right in front of them. Other passages tell us that they had the opportunity to feel the holes where the nails pierced his hands and feet. But they had a hard time believing he was really alive. Jesus was standing right in front of them but they doubted.

Something that always strikes me when I read that passage is that this group of 11 disciples went out and turned the world upside down even though, at one point, they had a hard time believing it themselves. Yes they doubted, but they wrestled with it and talked to others who had seen Jesus raised from the dead, and they eventually came to terms with their doubts and changed the world.

Having doubts does not make you a bad person and it doesn't mean you are useless to God. Some of the most useful people are people who have doubted deeply but wrestled with their doubts fervently and eventually came to terms with them. The process of doubting and wrestling with doubts can produce a person who is firm in the faith and certain why they believe as they do. Just because you have a hard time accepting something doesn't mean you have no faith. it means you are normal. But you have to deal with your doubts. Examine them, test them, see if they have any basis, and talk with other people who have struggled with doubt but continued to believe.

Doubting does not disqualify you from the work of the Kingdom. But don't allow doubt to go unresolved indefinitely. wrestle with your doubts. You might just come through them ready to change the world.

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