Monday, February 5, 2024

Doubting Duplicate Toys

Suggested Reading: John 20:19-29

One year for Christmas our son received a toy as a gift that he already owned. Looking at the gift, neither my wife nor I could remember him having it. My wife took my son’s word for it, but I am notorious for not believing things unless I verify them myself. My son forgets lots of things but at a moment’s notice he can recall the smallest toy in his toy box and all of the accessories that go with it. Still, when he kept insisting that he already owned the toy and my own stubbornness refused to accept something I couldn’t remember seeing, I commented that I would like to see the one he already had. Twenty seconds later, he had retrieved the toy from his room and placed it right next to the identical toy he had received as a gift. We offered to exchange the toy for something else but he liked the idea of having two of these particular toys. He just wanted me to believe him.

Based on that story alone, you can probably guess that I would fit right in with the disciple Thomas. Once Jesus had returned from the dead, he began appearing to the disciples and while all the other disciples had somehow seen Jesus, Thomas hadn’t been with them. For Thomas, it didn’t matter that all of the other disciples had seen Jesus and talked with him and eaten with him. Thomas insisted, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it” (John 20:24, NIV). When Thomas finally did get to see Jesus and fell on his knees before him, Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29, NIV).

Jesus' assertion was not that people should simply believe blindly whatever they are told about him, but that trust is more rewarding than insisting on verifying everything yourself. Honestly, when ten other grown men you have learned to trust start telling you they’ve seen something with their own eyes, refusing to believe isn’t healthy skepticism but, rather, it is unbelief and arrogance. Jesus didn’t tell Thomas that he should have believed in spite of evidence to the contrary. He simply understood that faith in spite of evidence is a very different thing than faith without evidence or than faith based on the word of someone you trust.

If you belong to Christ, you have already begun to trust, but trusting God with some things is harder than trusting God with others. Believing some parts of God’s word is easier than believing others. God’s desire for us is that we trust Him based as much on His character and Spirit moving in us as on the evidence we hope to find. Finding evidence is great. Being able to believe because we trust the One speaking to us is something even greater. 

Only Casting Out the Annoying Demons

Suggested Reading: Acts 16:16-34 There is a sentence in Acts 16 that has always bugged me. Paul and Silas were in Philippi as missionari...