COLUMN: We’re still here
Published 7:00 pm Saturday, June 10, 2023
When have you been really sure of something? You presented your opinion, your point or your theory to anyone who would listen. You even argued with some and you couldn’t believe that no one saw things as clearly as you. Only to find out later that you couldn’t have been any more wrong?
Just a few years ago, a California Berkeley alum named Harold Camping predicted that the world would end that spring. He had derived his calculations from something he had read in the Bible. Somehow, though I really wish they hadn’t, the media ran with this. Soon it was a nationwide topic around water coolers and copier machines. I was saddened to see so many Christians even consider all this.
I don’t want to make fun of anyone’s fervent belief. However, one of the more interesting reactions to the whole prediction was actually from an atheist. He offered to pet-sit for any believer who would pay him a $135 fee up front. For the next 10 years, he would look after pets since he assumed he would still be here after that May 21st date. It was witty, if nothing else. I’m not sure how many takers he got on that one.
In any event, we’re still here. So, either we weren’t included, or he was off the mark. But I remain amazed at what people will believe. Then a sobering reality hits me. That’s the way Christians are viewed by a lot of people these days, if we are self-aware.
A humble believer has more questions than certainties, if we’re doing this right. So first of all, let me point out that our questions will persist. Some doubted Jesus in Matthew 28: 16-20. On that mountain top, they saw Christ. Jesus instructed them on what was to come next. He told them what they were to do with their lives now as he departed. Their response was to worship Him.
But notice that even with that response, questions still remained. Understandably, they could not see the larger picture.
We do this with knowledge, and I think we do with beliefs, too. That’s why we call our relationship with God “faith.” We admit with such a designation that we have chosen to believe in God, without all the blanks filled in.
For some reason, most of us try to force situations to be all of one thing or all of the other. Ambivalence does not settle easily with Christians. We struggle to allow room for doubt within our belief. Yet, there is the father of a sick child saying to Jesus over in Mark’s gospel, “Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.”
In the text, these followers of Jesus were experiencing what Philip James Bailey understood when he wrote: “Who never doubted never even half believed. For where doubt, there truth is—‘tis her shadow!”
Have you ever seen something that left you in doubt because it amazed you? In doubt because what you saw was unlike anything you had ever seen before? Many of us have those scriptural insights that we have believed, yet find so incredible. Insights even of God, that are so big we plumb the depths of our disbelief along the way.
Doubts are, simply put, a part of the journey. Don’t you think that if we believe in a God big enough to bring about Salvation and the resolution of the world, then that God is certainly big enough to handle our doubtful or questioning moments?
I think so. The disciples worshiped and then some of them doubted. But, next we hear Jesus say that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. Just after telling his disciples that he had been given all such authority, he compelled them to go unto the nations.
He wanted them to reach, teach and baptize. In essence, they were empowered to continue the work they had watched him do. So are we, today.
We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to draw people closer to him. We can tell them the good news of Salvation and invite them to join us in building God’s kingdom in the here-and-now. We are called to take encouragement to the discouraged. Companionship to the lonely and comfort to the scared and the worried.
That’s what he did with this power. These are the things that were on his heart at such a key moment. Do you think there’s something we ought to learn as Christian believers from such a story?
Dr. Charles Qualls is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 757-562-5135.