23 March, 2016 40 days of change-Lent, 2016
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘this is a hard teaching, who can accept it?’ John 6:60
Even the biggest doubters believe that some of the teachings attributed to Jesus were profound. The turn the other cheek principle, the first shall be last, the love others are all lessons that need to be implemented by our colleagues, partners and children. No one doubts that. What we doubt is whether the teaching works for us personally? If you turn the other cheek, you will have two sore cheeks, a gloating enemy and what good is that? If the first is last, then that will only encourage losers, wrongly protecting them from the harsh reality of the survival of the fittest. I’ll be gentle in my critique of the loving others principle, that’s workable as long as I don’t have to love them more than myself; although Jesus may have come dangerously close to implying that with his feet washing and crucifixion examples. Rarely do we allow these thoughts to be verbalized in polite company, but our interactions within the church tell us that we have some doubt about what Jesus taught. There is no point in denying it; remember actions speak louder than words.
Why do we doubt it? Is it to excuse you from having to follow the teaching? The argument might go like this:
I don’t want to turn the other cheek. It is important that bullies be taught a lesson. I will strike back (although next time I will remember to strike first) and champion the cause for all the downtrodden.
To justify your actions you express doubt whether Jesus meant turning the cheek in the context of the bully, or was he just saying not to retaliate in certain situations. The doubts give you the freedom to ignore Jesus’ teaching. But those manufactured doubts, aren’t doubts, they are lies. We propagate these lies to justify our disobedience. I think Jesus taught something about not lying, but then again, maybe he didn’t mean that in this situation. I presume that’s not the reason for all our doubts.
Sometimes we doubt because we are scared. Scared that the teaching may not come true. Following much of Jesus’ teaching puts you at risk. If I allow myself to be last, I might find out that I actually end up being last! ‘But I thought I was suppose to be first’ you plead from the back of the queue. Learning that God is faithful is the only antidote to those fearful doubts. You can read about God’s faithfulness in Scripture, and you can hear about it from friends who’ll attest to him being true to what he said –– both help us to believe. But the best support to our faith walk is found in just taking your own step of believing, finding out for yourself it is true; and then taking another step that affirms that belief. Each step is a powerful boost to our confidence helping us to regain that balance that doubt caused us to be unstable. After a few faith enhancing steps you are well on your way from doubt to faith.