There is, I believe, a bit of a skeptic in all of us. While it’s more pronounced in some than others, surely there are days for all of us when we wake up and wonder if this is really, truly, absolutely… real. God, Jesus, the cross, His plan and purpose in the world – all of it. Is this really real?
Oh, how fickle is the human heart. From moment to moment, we can move between confidence and doubt, between faith and skepticism. But there is good news for the skeptic, and here are three such pieces of news:
1. The Lord is not turning you away.
Thomas is the classic biblical skeptic. When he heard the stories of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, his skepticism erupted: “If I don’t see the mark of his nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!” (John 20:25).
These are definite words. They’re words of resolution. They’re the words of a true skeptic: “I. Will. NEVER. Believe.” Thomas had made up his mind, and he would not be caught up in the foolishness that was before him. I mean, come on – Jesus? Back from the dead? It was ridiculous after all. And Jesus might have, when He did encounter Thomas, responded with anger. He might have turned him away, but He didn’t:
“Put your finger here and look at my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Don’t be faithless, but believe.” That’s the first piece of good news for the skeptic – it’s that Jesus is kind. He is generous. And He is welcoming to all kinds of sinners, even the skeptical ones.
2. There is help for you.
There is help for the skeptic. But the help might not be in the place where you think it is. Take, for example, the psalmist in Psalm 73. Here’s how the psalm begins:
God is indeed good to Israel,
to the pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet almost slipped;
my steps nearly went astray.
For I envied the arrogant;
I saw the prosperity of the wicked (Ps. 73:1-3).
Here is the skepticism. He wanted to believe that God is good those who are pure in heart, but his foot was slipping. His confidence was waning. He looked around and saw the wicked prospering, growing in wealth, power, and influence, and those who were trying to follow God and His ways were not. His skepticism grew as he observed what seemed to be inequitable treatment of the people in the world. And yet there was help:
When I tried to understand all this,
it seemed hopeless
until I entered God’s sanctuary (Ps. 73:16-17).
There was help for this skeptic, and the help was found in the presence of God, and with the people of God. Help came, in other words, because the skeptic kept showing up. He kept pressing in. And the community of faith can have the same effect for us when skepticism starts to rise within us. For it’s in the sanctuary of God, among the people of God, that we are reminded and emboldened. This is where our help can come from.
3. There is real proof waiting for you.
What does the skeptic really want? I suppose the true skeptic – one that is genuinely seeking with an open heart – wants some kind of proof. Now while we might respond to this statement by saying that proof eliminates the need for faith, let’s pause and remember that there is actual, real proof waiting for the skeptic. And this is good news.
God has not left His love in doubt. He has not simply claimed to love us, but has instead validated that love. But the validation for His love is not in our circumstances; it’s not in our income statements; it’s not in our physical health. The proof of God’s love is found at the cross:
For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:6-8).
Proof, for the skeptic, lies at the same place as it does for those of us who find it easier to believe. That proof is found at the cross.
Yes, there is good news for the skeptic, and that good news is found at the same place as good news for anyone else. It’s found at Calvary, if we are willing to look for it there.