Tag Archives: courage

Courage to Doubt

Last week I read a Relevant article called 4 Things Jesus Never Said which I enjoyed tremendously and highly recommend that you read. My biggest take-away from this all-around great post was in the second section of the four things Jesus never said under the subtitle “Doubting is Dangerous”.

The author reminds us of our biblical friend “Doubting” Thomas  and the notorious moment where earned that nickname, then neatly follows that up with a reminder that Thomas was not the only disciple to doubt, quoting Luke 24:11 in which all of the disciples “couldn’t believe” that Jesus had been resurrected.

What stood out to me was this bit,

All the disciples doubted, but Thomas was the only one with the courage to admit he needed proof. He said, “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). And when Jesus finally encountered Thomas, he did not rebuke him. Rather he gave Thomas what he needed. He invited Thomas to touch his wounds, and only then did Jesus tell him he could stop doubting.

The beauty of this is Thomas had an encounter with Jesus none of the other disciples did. He is the only one who touched the wounds of Jesus, because he had the faith to doubt. Nowhere does Jesus condemn doubt; rather he meets people right where they are in it.

Courage to admit his doubt… faith to doubt… interesting.

Very shortly after reading that article I came across a video of Simon Sinek on the subject of serving those who serve others (which I will post below). I have, for years now, been a fan of how Simon Sinek teaches about leadership and stumbled upon this particular video while looking up things about his new book, Leaders Eat Last. This video is long (and totally worth watching all the way through) but in the first 10 minutes I heard something that reminded me of what I had just read in the previously mentioned Relevant article.

In response to being asked how he knows so much Simon describes how he’s learned to ask questions so that he can simplify complex ideas into something he can understand. He references a story from his own life in which he was challenged to go 48 hours without lying, not even employing “little white lies” to avoid humiliation. He points out that we all lie this way constantly, telling waiters that our food is good when really it wasn’t because we don’t want to create a fuss, or telling a friend that we’ve heard of the film/music/what have you they’re speaking about when we haven’t to avoid looking out of the loop. In the middle of this challenge Simon had an appointment with a speech writer for a politician and as soon as they sat down the speech writer asked how much research he had done before this interview. Under normal circumstances, not being in a no-lying-challenge, his answer would have been something like, “a little” in order to avoid looking unprepared, but instead he answered truthfully that he done no research and the woman went ahead to fill him in on on the details he needed to know.

His point was that, had he lied, he would have missed out on hearing vital information and that we feel so much pressure to have all of the answers all of the time that we miss opportunities to know what’s most important.

After hearing that I thought of Thomas and what if he had, instead of expressing his doubt, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Sure, it could be true.”? Maybe Thomas would have encountered Jesus in the flesh and it would have been enough to convince him. Maybe. But because he wasn’t afraid of looking like a fool or a coward, Jesus reached out to him and said, “Here, touch me and don’t just believe that it’s me, know

I wonder what our faith would be like if we had the courage to stop trying to spiritually save face, to stop pretending that we have the answers, and we could face our fears and our doubts at the feet of a God who has infinite love and mercy for us. I wonder if we could be brave in this way how God might extend his nail scarred hands to us and give us the opportunity to not just believe in him but to know him.

I do deeply desire the kind of faith that follows Christ out onto the surface of the sea, but I also want the kind of faith that looks to the Father as a child and can say, “God I don’t have the answer, I don’t understand what you mean here, I don’t know what I believe, please show me!”

What do you doubt?

What do you not have an answer for?

What do you not have the strength to believe?

Can you, can we, be like Thomas?

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Stuck.

2ea0b4f47225c04dba62330221b6c76aDo you know that feeling?

It’s as though all of the frustration in the universe is bottled inside you with no release valve. You have no options. You have no moves left. And the pressure is building, threatening to destroy everything inside you, leaving you a shell of a person. 

You can’t handle feeling. 

You can’t stand not feeling. 

It is relentless and you are stuck

What if I told you that it’s an illusion? What if you could believe that stuck is one of the greatest tools the enemy has to keep you from understanding the freedom that comes with finding courage. What if you realized that the worst possible outcomes you can imagine are a vail of lies hanging between you and what God created you for– bravery, beauty, adventure, meaning, trust, walking on water, climbing mountains, and doing the impossible

You can feel it can’t you? 

It’s just a whisper maybe, but it’s there inside you asking you to consider what if. What if we were unafraid, what if we believed that the world belongs to God and he can and will take care of us? What if we could do what we dream of doing? 

We are not stuck. 

YOU are not stuck. 

Don’t believe the lies, don’t give into the shame. 

You are a child of God. 

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No Fear In Love

love:fearA couple of posts ago I mentioned Project Just As I Am . Sunday will be our first live photo booth event at NewChurch Georgetown. I think we’re all pretty excited about it.

Since the beginning of the project I keep finding myself drawn back to certain passages of scripture, actually, in a lot of cases whole books of the bible.

In the last couple weeks the words “No fear in love” have been playing on repeat in my head. They’ve popped up as I’ve faced difficulty in my relationships, they’ve been echoing through my mind as I’ve listened to students tell me about different situations going on in their lives. I’ve heard those words loud and clear as I’ve thought about what life is all about and how I should be treating the guy serving my coffee or the lady bagging my groceries.

1 John 4: 18 says,

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 

I’ve always thought about this verse from a first person perspective. don’t have to be afraid when I am grounded in God’s love for me. And I believe that’s true and it’s a place to start, a jumping off point for this verse. It’s extremely important that we know ourselves through the eyes of the unconditional love God has for us. Brennan Manning says in The Raggamuffin Gospel, “My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” If we ignore internalizing how we are loved by God we inevitably will spend our entire lives trying to earn something that is already in our possession and miss God’s calling for us. Thank God for grace.

All of that said, in the last couple of weeks as the words “no fear in love” have been the background music for all of my thinking and living, I began to wonder what it would look like if I applied this verse, which I had only been applying to myself, to the way I love others. It opened up a whole world for me, which I have to admit wasn’t exactly comfortable at first.

Without intending to, I think, we practice a lot of fear in the way we “love” others. I mentioned that several days ago in this post. We have our Christian disclaimers because we’re afraid of what it will look like we condone, or believe, or have taken part of if we just love people as they are. We constantly want to spell it out for people, “I MUST REMIND YOU THAT YOU ARE A SINNER” and then we wrap ourselves in turmoil over how to relate– Do I go to the gay wedding? Do I give the homeless guy on the corner money? Do I baby-sit for the teen mom?

And most of the time we DON’T– whatever our specific question is– because we’re afraid that the most loving thing we could do will be enabling, or condoning, or supporting something that we are morally opposed to. And I get it. But I think collectively we DON’T get IT.

Over and over again the bible says, “Love God and love each other”. I don’t see anything that says to make sure we stand daily on our moral soap boxes or that it is our personal mission to convict the sinful pants off of each other. Instead of being “salt and light” we Christians seem to be in the constant business of isolating ourselves and alienating others. It’s wrong, it’s backwards and it makes zero sense if we pay any attention to Jesus.

Jesus made the first move every time. He reached out and touched the dirty, he approached the prostitute, he surrounded himself with the broken, the outcast, the rejected, and then he DIED for all of us. ALL OF US. Without any promise that we would even understand what that gift meant, without any down payment from us. He said, “You know what, they are mine, make me liable. I claim them.”

If there is no fear in love then there should be no fear in how we love others. Jesus set the bar really high, so I feel like it’s safe to say that we cannot err too far on the side of love, because love is the point. The whole entire point. What do we really think all of our “good” and “moral” insistence means if we are missing the point? St. Paul says it pretty clearly in 1 Corinthians 13,

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

If we love without fear we change the world. Because that’s what Jesus did and the more we do it, the more we become like him… “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement: In this world we are like Jesus. ” (1 John 4:16-17)

I know this is a lot.

Trust me, I’ve thought through the ramifications– it means self-sacrifice, and going out of our way, it means not caring what other people think, even other Christians, it means taking risks, taking personal hits, it means giving ourselves away… any of that sound familiar?

We can do this.

We have to do this, the world desperately needs it and so do we. I heard Rebekah Lyons say recently that anxiety is the result of unfulfilled purpose and I believe that’s true. It seems to me that the majority of the Christian community is experiencing a great deal of anxiety.  Could it be because we are not fulfilling our purpose? I think so.

There is no fear in love.

Let’s begin loving fearlessly, church.

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