What does it take for you to believe?
The dramatic comebacks of American Football player and avowed Christian Tim Tebow last Fall has inspired spiritual conversations across the country. Does God help one team win over another? Do godly athletes get a little help from above?
After one dramatic win last season, a friend of my wife—and an avowed agnostic—texted her a simple phrase: “I believe!” Following the game, I checked my FaceBook page and read hundreds (literally!) of messages saying the same thing: I believe!
Gotta See It To Believe It!
Conventional wisdom tells us that we must “see it to believe it.” The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The scientific method teaches us that careful observation allows us to winnow the truth from lies and delusion. After careful research we can articulate a specific hypothesis that over time proves or disproves our theory.
“Science,” my high school physics teacher once explained to our class, “is based on facts.”
One of Jesus’ followers was a “see it to believe it” kind of person.
After Jesus died and (reportedly) rose from the dead, numerous people witnessed the resurrected Christ…and believed. Thomas, however, kept missing out on those “Jesus sightings.”
The rest of the disciples kept telling Thomas, “We’ve seen the Lord!” But Thomas, a born skeptic, told 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” (John 20:25).
After a week of hearing stories about Jesus being alive, he was sitting with the other disciples locked up in a house.
Then Jesus appeared.
He walked right through the locked door and stood in front of Thomas. “Put your finger here,” he said to the famous doubter as he stretched out his hands. “See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
“My Lord and my God!” Thomas replied.
Then Jesus offered an interesting observation: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29 italics added).
Think about it: the deepest faith isn’t the result of seeing and then believing. The deepest faith is the result of believing when no evidence is present.
The writer of Hebrews affirms this. In chapter 11, the writer delves into an extended explanation of true faith. “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”(verse 1 italics added). By the end of the chapter, he points out the kind of people whose faith all of us should emulate: people who died by stoning, who were sawed in two, who were destitute, persecuted and mistreated.
These people believed while they waited for God to intervene…and he didn’t.
I know people like that…
A friend who continues to hang on to his faith after two years of unemployment.
An acquaintance whose father died in a car accident. She doesn’t understand why God would let it happen. She hasn’t prayed since the tragedy, but she still holds on.
A friend whose son died of an drug overdose four years ago this month. The grief is still fresh, yet I know she hasn’t given up on God.
That, my friends, is true faith. Believing while not seeing.
Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. He’s still trying to learn what it means to walk by faith.