Friday, June 5, 2015

Doubters Versus Cynics

Chuckle: "You know you're getting old when you get the same sensation from a rocking chair that you once got from a roller coaster."
Quote: "When you really see Jesus, I defy you to doubt him. When he says -- 'Do not let your hearts be troubled,' if you see him I defy you to trouble your mind, it is a moral impossibility to doubt when he is there." --Oswald Chambers
    "When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer"  (Psalm 94:19 NLT).
We all are familiar with the Bible story of "doubting Thomas." After Jesus' had risen from the dead, ". . . the other disciples told him (Thomas), 'We have seen the Lord!' But he said to them, '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 20:25 NIV).
First, let's think about the difference between doubt and cynicism. The doubter is unsure about whether something is true or right, but is open to evidence that his doubt may not be justified. However, the cynic does not believe that people are ever sincere, honest, or good and tends to be bitter and negative about life. Such a person is not as open to evidence refuting his conclusions and sometimes has the attitude, "don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up."
"To believe is to be 'in one mind' about accepting something as true; to disbelieve is to be 'in one mind' about rejecting it. To doubt is to waver between the two, to believe and disbelieve at once and so be 'in two minds.' " (Os Guinness, "In Two Minds.")
Jesus never condemned Thomas for having honest doubts. Jesus appeared to Thomas and patiently said to him, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe. Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God' " (John 20:27-28 NIV). You see, Thomas was open to being convinced -- and stopped short of actually feeling the wounds of Jesus. He became convinced by Jesus' invitation to feel him and immediately voiced his belief.
Some people need to doubt before they can believe. If doubts lead one to ask honest questions, and questions lead to answers based on truth, and the answers are accepted, then doubt has been a good thing. But when doubt leads to stubborn cynicism and stubbornness becomes a mind-set, then that cynicism does extreme harm to one's faith. If you find yourself doubting the truths of the Bible, or God himself, please don't let your search for truth end there. As you discover answers, let those answers deepen your faith.
I believe God would have you bring your doubts directly to him as you pray. Be honest about your doubts, as Thomas was, and pour out your heart's concerns to the Lord. Then be open to new insights as he reveals his truths. If you have this attitude, even doubt can serve to bring you closer to him. God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5 NLT). Take God at his word and never doubt his love, his power, his provision, and his promises.
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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