“The good news makes no sense if you don’t know the bad news.” – Sunday school adage.
Our church is spending several weeks focusing on, discussing and teaching about Christian “Doubt.”
Granted, any church worthy of its pulpit is addressing Doubt all the time. People frequently experience a life – in the words of secular Enlightenment philosopher Thomas Hobbes – that is “nasty, brutish and short.” Doubting the existence of eternal good seems natural.
The Kingdom of God, with its salvation in Jesus Christ and indwelling of the Holy Spirit – in faith – is a very different and vastly superior place; startlingly and unbelievably different from a typical fallen person’s typical fallen day on this fallen earth.
Faith may be better, but doubt is easier.
Doubt requires little effort, no discipline, owes nothing to authority and maintains the boundaries of this life and nothing more. Only when one wants to step up into the free air of eternal hope, love, joy, grace and life does doubt become a problem.
Thing is, we know the “free air” is there. It is faith; the divine yearning God put into every human heart. Because the “free air” of our redeemer Jesus Christ is not where Satan, the Lord of this World, wants us to be, Satan is quick with his challenge:
“It is too good to be true.” And … we doubt.
The truth of our earthly existence is that we were created in God’s perfect image, but with freedom in our souls so that we might learn to love God: it’s what God wants for us, and what God wants for Himself. Freedom allows the possibility of love but has a brutal downside: it also allows Satan’s temptation.
So, we have this great news of the Gospel – the redeeming truth that God had a plan all along to save fallen, broken humanity from its sinful wallowings with the grace, mercy, love and sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Our sins are forgiven and we’re adopted back into the Kingdom of God. Whew!
But then there is this bad news; the awful truth – Jesus on the Cross is what we look like to God without being covered in the redeeming blood of Jesus; a picture of our sin, shame, guilt, fear, death, Hell … all the bad stuff the mind can conger or the body can experience.
It is awful to face the truth of what we are without Jesus Christ, but it explains the enormity of the good news of who we are with Jesus Christ.
Some people ignore it, others water it down. But the truth is truth.
Better not doubt that.
Walters (firstname.lastname@example.org), a one-time reporter, didn’t know the good news or the bad news most of his life.