“Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’”
John 20:24-25 (NKJV)
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who is the leader of the Anglican Communion, admitted in a recent interview that he sometimes experienced doubts about the existence of God. (Daily Mail, September 18th 2014) Strange, you would think, for the spiritual leader of a large number of Christians. Can you be a Christian and doubt the exsistance of God?
The answer is Yes, as we see in the scripture above. Perhaps doubting Thomas, who had known Christ in the flesh as a human being, and the Archbishop can be forgiven for their doubts. Maybe their doubts reflect the doubts of many other Christians who battle on with their everyday lives in a difficult world. Any ordinary Christian can be forgiven for doubting as Christ’s compassionate response to Thomas showed. (John 20:26-29) In Verse 29 “Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” There is a special blessing for those of us who believe even though we have not actually seen the Christ.
Faith and doubt are opposites which one would think could not exist side by side in the mind and heart of a Christian. The book of James, chapter 1:2-8 clearly tells us that as Christians we should have absolute faith in God, yet we are human and so it is possible to let doubt creep in occasionally. Sometimes when awful things happen it is easy to ask, where is God? I believe that is what the Archbishop meant when he said he sometimes doubted, and perhaps our reaction shows us that our expectations of people in high office can be too demanding, forgetting that they too are human.
Yet as Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” For Christians, faith is the answer to doubt.
Another key is looking to the long term future rather than today’s short term problems. Let us ask God to strengthen and increase our faith, to remove any doubts we may have. But, at the same time let us not judge or condemn those who sometimes doubt, but rather encourage and pray for them too.
Loving and gracious Father, help us to have a stronger and deeper faith so we have the compassion and patience to encourage and support those who struggle with doubt.
Study by Keith Hartrick
Grace Communion – Leeds
Garden Village Welfare Association Community Centre
LEEDS LS15 8LE
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