The very first imperfect witnesses

The very first witnesses to the resurrection were afraid and joyful. If he could them, he can use me even if I'm a hot mess.

Our small group spent some time studying Matthew 28 last night: the dramatic account of Mary and Martha trembling before an angel dressed in lightning. They had been looking for Jesus’ body, and the angel comforted and redirected them: “He is not here. Come and see where they laid him. Go and tell the others and tell them to go to Galilee.”

Matthew tells us that the women ran: afraid yet filled with joy.

A few verses later, having heard the women’s account and traveled up to Galilee, Jesus appeared to the 11 disciples. Matthew tells us that when they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted.

Had you noticed this before: the very first witnesses to the resurrection were one hot mess of emotion: fearful and yet overjoyed. The inaugural words of the Great Commission were spoken to a group with decidedly mixed responses: some all-out worshipping, but others seriously questioning.

I am so struck by this thought – that from the very first, the gospel was entrusted to individuals and groups who were a bit of a tangled mess. They didn’t have it all together. They had mixed motives, lots of questions. The Lord’s angel didn’t say to the women: “now calm down and let’s be reasonable – and once you have it all figured out, then I’ll entrust you with this change-the-course-of-history message.” No, the angel, knowing they were still tangled and terrified, still entrusted the message to them.

Jesus knew that in his group of disciples, some of them were having a worshipful “aha!” moment, while others were still very much on the fence.. and yet he didn’t limit his commission and say “Now, those of you who are doubting – these words are not for you. Not yet, anyway.” I am struck that he commissioned them all anyway, knowing that they were not the first (not would they be the last) to feel both faith and uncertainty at the same time.

And it occurs to me that if He didn’t require the very first witnesses, and his very closest disciples to have it all together in order to be entrusted with the Most Important Message Of All…

… he doesn’t need me to have it all together in order to use me, either.

We can be both anxious and joyful, worshipful AND doubtful, – and still be witnesses.

“I do believe, help me in my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

“Not that we are competent in ourselves… but our competence comes from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:5)

5 thoughts on “The very first imperfect witnesses

  1. I find it interesting that some of the worshippers were wrestling with doubt and uncertainty. That seems to be a common issue for me during worship services.

    My brain won’t turn off and let me completely abandon myself to singing, etc. I’m too busy questioning elements of the sermon or song lyrics or prayers, not really analyzing them in a negative sense, but connecting them with other things outside the service and questioning whether this is real, does this make sense, what’s going on. (This is particularly true when my depression is bad or I’m having a mixed episode.) I bet some of the doubters in the gospels were the same way.

    I used to beat myself up for this, especially at one of my old churches that had a more charismatic worship style than our current church. I would look around, see people singing with what appeared to be reckless abandon, and compare myself to them. There’s something wrong with me, I would think, I can’t stop thinking!

    I’m coming to terms with my non-stop brain. God doesn’t want me to turn off my brain in the worship service, or deny my doubts, or stop being real. He’s God and he’s not threatened by my doubts about him, nor, as you pointed out, does he require that I stop doubting and be “perfect” in order to used by him.

    Long comment . . . I had several interruptions from kids!

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