Formations Lesson for April 18: What it Means to Believe : Friday, April 2, 2004
April 1 2004 by Mike Womble

Formations Lesson for April 18: What it Means to Believe : Friday, April 2, 2004
Friday, April 2, 2004

Formations Lesson for April 18: What it Means to Believe

By Mike Womble
Focal passage: John 20:19-31

Why is there nowhere to hide these days? Lets face it, with mobile phones, laptops, faxes, instant messages and Global Positioning receivers, we are overloaded with information and tasks. All of these things are supposed to help us fulfill our responsibilities more efficiently, but all too often they become the things that drive us. In the midst of our overly committed lives where are we to find peace and hope?

In Running on Empty Fil Anderson describes the struggle of nurturing his own spirituality while discerning the driving pressures of professional and personal life. The things that drive us become the "urgent" but not necessarily the "important" areas we need to address.

In the Bible passage for this week the disciples are being driven by fears and doubts that prevent them from fulfilling the calling they received from Christ Himself. The pressures that pressed in on them were so overwhelming they found it difficult to sit and share a meal together without having to defend themselves from intruders or betrayers.

What was it like to run in the shadows, hiding from everyone you know? How could they begin to explain their experiences with Christ to the very people who shouted, "Crucify Him?"

Driven by Fear

John 20:19-23

In her accounts of the Nazi occupation of Holland, Corrie Ten Boom described hiding from the Nazis - quietly waiting for everyone to disperse so that life could regain some sort of normalcy.

This must be the same sensation the disciples experienced following Christ's death and the recent word from Mary Magdalene that He was alive (John 20:17-18). Frozen by fear for their own lives, the disciples huddled closely together, trying not to make a scene and lead Jesus' accusers to them.

When Christ appeared He brought a wonderful gift for His friends in hiding - peace. By His presence alone they could be overwhelmed, not with fear, but with peace.

John's detailed account of this conversation reveals simple words that lay gently on their listening ears: "Peace be with you." These four words defused any fear they might have held tightly.

Jesus' gift of the Holy Spirit to His closest friends reminds us not only of the creation story (Gen. 2:7), but also the story of Ezekiel's witness of God breathing life into a valley of dead bones (Ezek. 37:9). Only the breath of God can peel back the layers of protection we build around ourselves and penetrate our fears with new hope and life. When the disciples received the Holy Spirit they were re-receiving their calling from Christ.

Driven by Doubt

John 20:24-29

During Christ's first appearance to the disciples, He brought hope to a community driven by fear. In this second appearance, Jesus brought hope to a devoted follower who was driven by doubt.

One of Thomas' greatest virtues was his commitment to what he believed in. Christ invited Thomas to physically touch His scars in order to replace his doubt with hope. Thomas' response was simple but overwhelming: "My Lord and my God!"

Once Thomas experienced the risen Christ he was never the same. His fear and doubt were filled with peace and hope. He knew without any doubt that Christ truly was alive.

Driven by Belief

John 20:30-31

Although there are disputes over who actually wrote this section of the text, one truth remains: the amazing signs John writes about are to be a record of truth that Christ was and is alive. In contrast to the previous two sections where the disciples were driven by something not of God, this section speaks directly about being driven by belief so that "... in Him (we) will have life."

Who's Behind the Wheel?

What is it that drives you? What are you hiding, or think you're hiding, from your spouse, your friends, your colleagues, God? If Christ can appear before the disciples in a hidden room behind a closed door, surely He can come into your presence and bring you unfathomable hope, peace and life.

4/1/2004 11:00:00 PM by Mike Womble | with 0 comments

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