Wonderful Doubt!

John 20:19-31   

Would you consider yourself to be a skeptical person? Are you a doubter?

And now, be present in this very moment. What’s going on? In the world, in your community, in your home? Don’t judge it or interpret it. Just think about what is actually happening.

Let’s you and I do something together, right now. Let’s be willing to look at life just the way it is. Don’t add anything to it, don’t subtract anything from it.

Did you know that this is what it means to be a skeptic? Sadly, the word [and idea] of being a skeptic often gets a bad rap, but it shouldn’t. Let’s be skeptics and doubters, shall we?

Why? Because it’s a healthy mindset to have right now—with all that’s going on. And it’s healthy in general, actually.

For if you and I can be skeptics and doubters, we are then engaging in spiritual growth.

Yes, you heard me right. By being skeptics and doubters we engage in spiritual growth. No need to exaggerate anything, no need to play down anything. Look at everything just the way it is.

Skepticism means you do not know, so you’re doubtful about stuff. Like, for example, now. It’s an uncertain time, right? A time to be skeptical. And this skepticism is about looking for something.

You’re doubtful, investigating, seeking. We have no problem with a detective being skeptical and performing investigations, right? So why do we hesitate to say that being a detective is akin to being a spiritual seeker?

Now is a time to be detectives. To be skeptics, to be doubters and seekers. You don’t need to have all the answers, you don’t need to explain things away, you don’t need to have everything make sense.

It’s time to be detectives, and it’s wonderfully healthy.

Because nothing really is black and white, isn’t it true? Nothing really makes sense. Anyone who tries to force you to believe in something absolute is either selling you something or, they are afraid of what a little detecting on your part will find out!

That’s why…regardless of where you are today, there is a story in the New Testament Gospels of the Christian Bible, about a person called Thomas, that is brilliant. It’s a detective story. It’s about doubt and skepticism. And we need to hear it.

Notice in the story that Jesus doesn’t criticize Thomas for questioning or for doubting. Thomas is given the opportunity and the space to ask critical and I would argue, beautiful questions. Because of that, Thomas’ experience, in the end, is rich and full. Thomas is encouraged to doubt himself, to doubt what others told him. Thomas’ skepticism is embraced.

Why? Because Jesus of Nazareth was less interested in what people believed about him [because wow, they believed a lot of messed up stuff], and more about how people acted.

Jesus cared more about how people lived than what they believed.

Jesus’ responses to people who were always looking for a religious or spiritual potion to cure their guilt/shame/uncertainty would typically say:

How do you spend your time? With whom are you living? What will you do? What’s important to you?

And then: Go. Do. Live.

Oh, friends, I really think that if you and I can be “all in” on this skeptic/detective/doubter thing, we can go somewhere.

So let’s do it again [thanks, Thomas].

What’s going on? In the world, in your community, in your home? Don’t judge it or interpret it. Just think about what is actually happening.

Look at life just the way it is. Don’t add anything to it, don’t subtract anything from it. Just be.

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Josh grew up in the Midwest before completing a B.A. in Theatre at Northwestern College [IA] and a Masters of Divinity [M.Div.] at Princeton Theological Seminary [NJ]. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ [UCC], Josh has lived and worked in the Midwest, East Coast, Hawai’i, and Mexico. He is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Welcome Project PA, host of the Bucks-Mont PRIDE Festival, and he is Pastor of Love In Action UCC, an open and affirming congregation featured in a Vox Media episode of Divided States of Women with Liz Plank and in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Josh has 20+ years of nonprofit experience, including leading workshops and training in corporate, medical, and academic settings, focused on diversity & inclusion, grant writing, fund raising, and program management. Josh is a fellow of Interfaith Philadelphia, and designs and coordinates HS and University student groups for interfaith immersion service-learning weeks. Josh also co-facilitates Ally trainings for LGBTQIA+ inclusion and interfaith cooperation. He is a founding member of The Society for Faith & Justice, and a Collaborator for Nurturing Justice, and a member of the Driving PA Forward team via New Sanctuary Movement. He also performs regularly with the dinner theatre company, Without a Cue Productions, and has developed theatre arts curriculum for use in religious and secular settings. Josh also enjoys running, singing, traveling, learning languages, or making strange and funny faces. He lives in Center City Philly.

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