Monday Morning Devotion-September 19, 2022
I want to remind you that in the last days there will come scoffers who will…laugh at the truth. This will be their line of argument: "So Jesus promised to come back, did he? Then, where is he? He'll never come! Why as far back as anyone can remember everything has remained exactly as it was since the first day of creation. 2 Peter 3:3-4 (The Living Bible).
*From July 2019
Charles Swindoll tells this story in "Insight for Living Daily Devotional" (July 1, 2019):
"Nine-year-old Danny came bursting out of Sunday school like a wild stallion. His eyes were darting in every direction as he tried to locate either his mom or dad. Finally, after a quick search, he grabbed his daddy by the leg and yelled, "Man, that story of Moses and all those people crossing the Red Sea was great!" His father looked down, smiled, and asked the boy to tell him about it.
"Well, the Israelites got out of Egypt, but Pharaoh and his army chased after them. So, the Jews ran as fast as they could until they got to the Red Sea. The Egyptian Army was gettin' closer and closer. So, Moses got on his walkie-talkie and told the Israeli Air Force to bomb the Egyptians. While that was happening, the Israeli Navy built a pontoon bridge, so the people could cross over. They made it!"
By now old dad was shocked. "Is that the way they taught you the story?"
"Well, no, not exactly," Danny admitted, "but if I told it to you the way they told it to us,
you'd never believe it, Dad."
Swindoll says that this little guy had put his finger on the pulse of today's sophisticated adult world where "cool skepticism" reigns supreme. Nowadays folks find it easier to operate in the black-and-white world of fact and leave no space for the miraculous.
I'm sure you have met people like that. Skeptical about everything…well, almost everything. Some folks just won't accept things until you hit them over the head with a baseball bat. Not really. That's a little extreme, but some people are harder to convince than others, especially when it comes to miracles.
Believing in miracles is serious business. www.psychologytoday.com says that "Physicians are encouraged to recognize the importance of and understand their patient's spiritual and religious needs. Believing in miracles gives meaning to life; especially when life is threatened."
According to "Psychology Today" believing in miracles is somewhat common and these beliefs are not limited to certain age groups or religious denomination or affiliations. A 2007 study surveyed almost 36,000 Americans aged 18 to 70-plus and found that 78% of the younger group and 79% of those older believed in miracles.
With respect to religious affiliation 83% of those affiliated believed in miracles in contrast to 55% who were unaffiliated. Among those from all religions 80% of those with Protestant and Catholic affiliations endorsed the belief in miracles.
Even physicians believe in miracles. Of the 1,100 physicians from different religious faiths that were polled, 74% believed miracles occurred in the past and 73% held the belief that miracles occur today. Likewise, 72% of the physicians believed that religion is a reliable guide to life.
An article in www.faithfullymagazine.com (Five Potential Dangers of Skepticism by Jonathan Holmes) points out that while skepticism may be seen as an intellectually healthy and stimulating skill to possess in our society today there are adverse effects of skepticism as well.
"Our universities push students to criticize and challenge everything they think they know and in an age of heightened awareness to social injustice, to push back against systems that have disenfranchised people for centuries."
Holmes writes: "What if skepticism, for all its advantages, is a dangerous worldview that keeps people anxious, lonely and unloving? What if the heightened skepticism in our world today results in much of the hate, intolerance, and injustice that we see in our world?"
Five potential dangers of skepticism:
1) Skepticism can create loneliness: Being skeptical of others can diminish community and increase loneliness. It can show a distrust in others that is toxic. Mother Teresa said: "loneliness is the disease of the Western World."
2) Skepticism can create anxiety: Skepticism about the overexposure to technology and media in today's society can cause feelings of hopelessness.
3) Skepticism can make God seem distant: Being skeptical about life can make God seem distant as the skeptic conforms to his/her own understandings and reservations instead of listening to God's voice or calling in their life.
4) Skepticism can uphold injustice: Skepticism can prevent progress in the fight against racism and other practices that the love of Christ teaches us to oppose.
5) Skepticism can be emotionally unhealthy: Skepticism can keep a person from becoming emotionally healthy by fearing vulnerability and not trusting others."
Jesus was a miracle worker. But since we can't actually see him in person skeptics relegate these miracles to a child's world of fiction and fables. Swindoll says "these smart, keen-thinking skeptics don't have to worry about the little things like what brought Lazarus back from beyond or why all those fish filled the disciples' nets. It's easier to simply embrace a wholesale denial of the miraculous…which is fine and dandy…until the skeptics themselves get sick, face death, or need miraculous help.
What happens then? "Hey, if I told you what the Bible really says, Mr. Skeptic, you'd never believe it."
Prayer: Lord help us to keep our skepticism in check and trust you to show us Your way.