Too Good to be True

We are a suspicious lot, we humans. We suspect that good things—really good things—are probably not true. Many of us live by the adage If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And so we naturally doubt.

     When you peel it all away, when you break it all down, we just don’t want to be disappointed. It is the source of many of our fears; therefore, we shield our hearts, demanding physical proof before we believe anyone or anything that promises good things. But you know what? Our shielded (and calloused) hearts do protect us sometimes from making foolish decisions regarding business deals, weight loss programs, and relationships—things we hoped were trustworthy—things that were, in fact, too good to be true.

     I think that’s why we do not trust in God. Our American currency boasts “In God We Trust.” But we don’t!  Even if we give in to the fact there might be a creator God, we believe that he must not be very good at it because of all the evil in the world. And we just get stuck there. Especially if the evil things are happening to us! A loving God is just too good to be true. Have people always demanded proof about good things? Yeah, I think so. And here’s the proof.

     After Jesus was crucified and buried, Mary and other women saw Jesus at the tomb and talked with him. And they ran to the disciples and told them Jesus was alive! What did the disciples say? “These words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”1 The NIV translates it this way: “their words seemed to them like nonsense.” It was too good to be true.

     But then Jesus showed up! And the disciples believed! Thomas, however, did not get the memo/text about the gathering and missed the whole event. When they told him they had seen Jesus, he was not convinced. He said, “I will not believe.”2  He needed proof. It was too good to be true.

     Even John the Baptist, while sitting in prison at the end of his ministry, sent his followers to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another!”3 He needed proof. It was too good to be true.

     I must admit that it is not a bad approach for living this earthly life—demanding proof of things. Unfortunately, it interferes with the concept of faith because “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”4 So what do we do with that? Where does faith fit in with people who demand proof?

     The answer? Nowhere. As a matter of fact, God requires that we believe he is present when he appears absent, that he is good when it seems he is bad, that he loves us though he acts indifferent, and that he will be faithful even though we feel abandoned. Why is God so demanding? Because faith is illogical. Faith is believing when there is no logical reason as to why we should. It is not natural. How can anyone have that kind of faith? We will not find it within ourselves, which is where people naturally look for it.

     Faith comes from God. It comes when we hear the Word of God and allow it to penetrate our whole being—heart, mind, soul, and strength. That is where it begins. Then our faith grows as we grow in Christ. But if we have faith, then why do we sometimes not have faith? Very good question and one that James (the brother of Christ) answered in his short book—which leads me to believe his readers were struggling with this very issue. The passage is so thorough that it also addresses our first issue of trying to figure out what/who to believe! Read carefully: “If any of you lacks wisdom (wondering if something is too good to be true, ie.), let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”5 So, instead of wondering whether something/someone can be trusted, we should ask God for wisdom!

     But there’s a condition to this promise. “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting.”6  James says that either we have faith or we have doubts; it cannot be both. Why? If we believe but then don’t believe, then we don’t believe! It is an indication that we know God—but not very well. We treat him as a distant relation rather than the loving Father that he really is. Or at the very least it is a sign that we do not trust him in certain areas of our lives.

     James warns us that “the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”6 Having faith never involves indecision; it is the antithesis of indecision! It is interesting that doubters often blame God for not proving that he heard them—ie. giving them what they want—when their doubt is the proof that they have no faith in God at all. And here’s what James says about that person: “For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.”7 What? Why would God be so cruel? He is not! God is never cruel! But he appears to be cruel to those who have no faith! Why? Because the man who doubts “is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”8

     So, to be clear—an unstable man is a double-minded man who will not receive anything from God because he does not have faith that he will receive anything from God. Is that clear? It is the unstable man who doubts and is not faithful—not God, who is always faithful.

     What is the answer to all this doubting? How do we conquer our doubts? Jesus told John the Baptist’s followers, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard.”9 (And then Jesus cites the evidence.) And here is what he told Thomas. “Stop doubting and believe.”10

     But you know what? Many people will continue to doubt and not believe. Why? Because the gospel is too good to be true!

     But in this case, it is true.

1Luke 24:53   2John 20:25   3Luke 7:20   4Hebrews 11:1   5James 1:5   6James 1:6   7James 1:7   8James 1:8   9Luke 7:22   10John 20:27  

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