I am a fan of skeptics.
Skeptics teach me about faith.
Skeptics are always honest about where they are; they rarely do fake smiles or fears.
Skeptics ask good, hard questions; they usually listen hard and well.
Skeptics lean into belief being hard; unlike those born into “church life” who forget it isn’t supposed to be easy.
I have a favorite skeptic in the Bible. (And there are many by the way).
Nicodemus is my favorite; a full fledged, born into the lineage of “church” know-it-all, learned in the ways of God. At least, he thought he was.
Until Jesus. He knew enough to know that this guy was different. He did things great prophets did, yet more. He said things that great teachers did, and more. He hung out with sinners, and shut the mouths of his religious friends. He healed. He fed.
He embodied someone he knew so perfectly. But how could this be?
So he went for a long walk on a dark night.
Perhaps Jesus knew he was coming.
- Nicodemus wasn’t totally sure who Jesus was, and he needed to find out. He didn’t hide that he cared what his friends thought. Skeptics rarely do.
- He asked questions; a lot of them. He struggled to understand and asked more.
- He left that conversation still a skeptic; with a lot to think about.
Something deep inside began to change. Maybe he wrestled some more watching Jesus from the sidelines.
Maybe he processed with a trusted friend.
Maybe he journaled. Maybe he prayed.
But he leaned into his belief that God was a God he could trust.
And ended up one of the few standing in plain view before Jesus on the cross. One of the few who had tried to defend him.
So are you a skeptic? Sometimes I am.
But this story tells me that’s a great place to start, right?
1. Sometimes we already believe in Jesus Christ as God. Do you remember a time when you were skeptical about Jesus?
2. Sometimes we are still on a journey to faith. What ways does this story of Nicodemus reveal that it’s pretty normal to doubt or ask questions?
3. Do you see yourself in Nicodemus’ story? What ways can it show us we can be encouraged “wherever we are” in our faith journey?
4. What is clear that at the end of the Gospel of John 19:38-39, Nicodemus re-appears in full public view this time? What does that show about his journey from skeptic to believer?
We are all on a journey. Our individual journeys look, and feel, different. What doesn’t change is the constant, ever-present, unconditional love of God in Jesus Christ. Be encouraged that wherever you are, you are loved deeply by God. Your story matters. You matter.
Doubting, or feeling skeptical, about faith is normal. When you’re ready, talk to a friend or a spiritual mentor/pastor/leader that you trust. Just like Nicodemus, we all have questions, and sometimes we may not get all the answers we’d like. The answers do eventually come, if we are patient, and continue asking.
Trust the journey. Peace.