How do you react when your child or friend expresses doubt? Do you see this as a step in the disciple-making process or does your heart sink and fear take over?
During the week after Easter in our elementary and preteen services, we took a look at how Thomas wrestled with doubt. Through this story we can see how asking questions is a great thing. Asking questions can lead to understanding, which can lead to knowledge, which can lead to more questions, understanding, and knowledge. As you are walking someone through the discipleship process remember these truths from Thomas.
Thomas expressed his doubt. When the disciples told Thomas they had seen Jesus, he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side” (John 20:25). Thomas had doubts and questions about what the disciples were saying they saw but he didn’t keep those doubts hidden. When someone is open and honest with you, celebrate their honesty and the fact that they are seeking to understand.
Doubt isn’t toxic to faith; unexpressed doubt is. – Kara Powell
Not all questions are answered right away. “Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them” (John 20:26). I’m sure Thomas would have loved to see Jesus walk in the room seconds after expressing his doubt, but he wrestled for eight days! Can you imagine being in Thomas’ shoes? Eight days of all your closest friends celebrating while you question. Eight days of wondering if the past couple years were a complete waste. Eight days of wondering if you would be arrested next because you followed some dead guy.
Jesus loves Thomas even in His doubt. Jesus didn’t reply to Thomas with anger, rather He offered proof and answers to his questions.
The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” He said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” John 20, 26b-27
Let’s stop viewing doubt or questions as the enemy to disciple-making. Instead, let’s celebrate when someone you love is expressing their doubts and opening themselves up to understanding and knowledge. Above all, let’s respond like Jesus and show love to all people.