Fuelling the engine of faith

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The time after Easter is always an interesting period. Emotions vary; for some the joy of Easter continues. For others, the pressures and events of daily life and work soon kick back in. John’s gospel helps us sift through this kaleidoscope of emotion:

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again, Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So, the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “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.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20: 19-31)

This passage tells us about faith, feelings and facts.

Imagine that first Easter Sunday evening. The disciples are together, perhaps chatting about the empty tomb and what Mary had told them. They are still scared; the door is locked. Then Jesus appears supernaturally, shows them his scars, greets them with his famous ‘peace be with you’ and begins empowering them with the Holy Spirit. Just think, Jesus had been alive again for less than 24 hours – this is brand new breath! What a foundation for faith!

And then there’s Thomas. I love Thomas’ story. It’s as if he just ‘nipped out to get some milk’, and so missed the visit. I totally get his outburst. I think I would have felt the same. And Jesus gets it too. A week later the same supernatural arrival and this time, faith forming for Thomas alone. Then, his encouragement: ‘Stop doubting and believe’. How that must have dealt with Thomas’ emotions.

The passage ends with John stating his intention in writing his gospel. His gospel gives the facts of faith, such as the ‘I am’ promises, belief encouraging miracles and pithy dialogue.

This is so helpful for us today. For many of us the joy of the Easter weekend disappears almost as fast as our chocolate eggs. Soon, we’re back in the highs and lows of everyday life. We can see how the ups and downs in our emotions affect our confidence in our relationship with God. For many of us, when these emotions are harnessed to the engine of faith, life seems calmer. However, all engines need fuel. An engine that runs out of steam can quickly be dragged back by the weight of emotion. Add in the fuel tender of facts, then life takes on a whole new meaning. These facts come from scripture, Bible study, teaching, prayer and encouraging each other.

In summary, in the world of today, the engine of FAITH, powered by the fuel tender of FACTS will pull the carriage of FEELINGS with sure confidence.

Happy Easter! Be encouraged.

Nigel Rawlinson

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