WRITTEN BY KEN SHACKELFORD
I was blessed to be in Ozark, Missouri earlier this week and teach lesson 4 of Perspectives to the 40+ who are having their life “ruined for the ordinary”. Lesson 4 focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus and how He perfectly displayed God’s heart for every tribe, tongue and nation. We spend a lot of time on His “Mandate on the Mountain”, the Great Commission, and show that this co-mission is at the center of what his ministry training was all about.
Each time I teach this lesson, God reveals something new and fresh to me about what I am teaching. This time around, it has to do with the verse just before Christ’s commissioning in Matthew 28. In verse 17, it says, “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him…” Of course, this is what you would expect of people who had been with the Messiah for years, witnessed His brutal death and now see Him alive and well! But that is not the end of the verse! The three words just before this commission are, “but some doubted.”
Doubt?! What? How could the disciples standing in front of the resurrected Christ have any ounce of doubt? If they doubt, what hope is there for me 2,000 years after the fact reading this ancient Book? It is interesting to note how Jesus, who surely knew that they doubted, dealt with their doubt. Did He tell them that they are of no use to Him until that can “just get over it” and really believe? No. He tells these doubters, along with everyone else, to “go and make disciples.”
The theologian Paul Tillich says that “Doubt is not the opposite of faith, it is an element of faith.” If you have no doubts at all, you have no need of faith, you just simply know. While we are living in this fleshly shell and walking through this fallen world, doubt will be with us. This is why we need faith! Faith, hope and love are indeed great, but love is the greatest because faith and hope are temporary. They are only needed while we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” [Phil. 2:12b] When we stand in white robes with the multitudes from every nation, worshiping Christ with the angels, our doubts will vanish. When we enter the gates of Heaven, our hopes will be realized. Then there is simply the fullness and completeness of eternal LOVE.
But for now, Jesus knows that He can work with those of us who doubt. He tells the doubters to join Him in His mission: to make disciples of every people group, to baptize them and teach them to walk in loving obedience alongside their new adopted family of God.
There is a saying in the south, “A dog in the hunt don’t scratch for fleas.” Doubts nag at us like fleas on a dog. If we just sit around the “barn yard” (a.k.a. church pew) as a passive believer, then the nagging doubts, among other issues, will become our focus. If we, instead, do what we were created to do - worship Jesus and join Him in His mission, then we will scarcely notice the doubts and our faith will be strengthened.
Even if our doubts loom large and our faith seems as small as a mustard seed, Jesus knows He can do great things with us, in us, and through us for the Kingdom of God. Don’t wait for doubt to cease before you obey Christ’s call to “GO”. Obey this great “co-mission”. Look and see what God can do through you, …in spite of your doubts!
Pics above: Teaching Perspectives Lesson 4 in Ozark, MO.