Laying Aside Skepticism … just for a moment
Skeptics thrive on the miraculous! They get their conversation pieces from the magic shows. I know that’s true in my own heart. I think because we see so much superficial garbage portrayed through the likes of the toupee-wearing, teeth-sparkling charlatans proclaiming a different sort of Gospel altogether. And so it’s no wonder that for those of us trying to keep a level head and hold to Gospel-centered orthodoxy, we shutter at these insults. So, yes, there is wisdom in skepticism, especially of this sort. But, I also feel that there is wisdom to be had in leaning, at times, away from what might be our natural tendency toward skepticism and to embrace what God might be doing in front of our eyes, though it might be “out-of-the-box.” Now, before you decide to impale me on a stake and burn me as a heretic, listen to this example from Acts 9 that I picked up on today, and see if it makes sense. It probably won’t sound as big of a deal as I’m making it. So here we go:
Acts 9 – Saul’s Conversion
Upon the Lord making known to Ananias that Saul of Tarsus, the great persecutor of the church, had just experienced the risen Savior and had his life completely transformed, Ananias did what most of us would have done … he became skeptical.
13“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has authority here from the chief priests to arrest all who call on Your name.”
That’s exactly what I would have done. But the Lord is patient.
15 But the Lord said to him, “Go! For this man is My chosen instrument to carry My name before Gentiles, kings, and the sons of Israel. N)”>16 I will certainly show him how much he must suffer for My name!”
I love that. Chosen instrument.
17 So Ananias left and entered the house …
Wow. There’s more to that verse, but I don’t want to skip over this important phrase. He entered the house. He obeyed. He went–in spite of all that he had heard about Saul–in spite of the fact that there was a good chance that Saul could have slit his throat. He obeyed. Ananias laid aside his skeptic’s glasses long enough to see through the lens that God was trying to place in front of him– a lens that involved the primary mass-murderer and persecutor of Christians in the known world at that time coming to faith in Jesus Christ.
But the skepticism doesn’t end there. Luke tells us later on in chapter nine that when Saul tried to have fellowship with the believers in Jerusalem, they shunned him. No one would even talk to him. They were freaked out that he might kill on their bodies or something. That he might go kamikaze with the wine glass in the middle of communion or something. I’m not sure. But they were skeptical, that’s for certain, until … Barnabas, yes, good ole Barnaby (whose name meant “Hello, Dolly!” … No, it wasn’t that … it was something else … Oh, yea, the “son of encouragement!”) came over and extended the right hand of fellowship to Saul and put the hearts of the others at rest.
(Get to the point). I know. It takes me awhile sometimes. Especially once the kids go to bed and I can think clearly again and my fingers and mind come together in a beautiful wedding of thought as they simply can’t get enough of the soothing, hypnotic clacking of the keys. Anyway, the point is this:
Skepticism, though a good thing in guarding solid, biblical orthodoxy, can at times block us from seeing the bigger picture of what God is up to in the world.
The tricky part is discernment. That’s where we need to ask God to give us His eyes and His perspective on what’s going on around us so that we might be able to discern if it is, in fact, His hand at work. Thank God that Ananias laid aside his initial skepticism. Thank God that Barnaby laid aside Horace’s wallet (oh, there I go again) so that he could see with God’s eyes what was actually going on in the circumstances surrounding Saul. And who knows what might have happened had they not looked past their own tendency toward skepticism. That’s all I’m saying.