Sunday mornings. I awake early, long before the family stirs, the sunrise flickers, or the paper plops on the driveway. Let the rest of the world sleep in. I don’t. Sunday’s my big day, the day I stand before a congregation of people who are willing to swap thirty minutes of their time for some conviction and hope.
Most weeks I have ample to go around. But occasionally I don’t. (Does it bother you to know this?) Sometimes in the dawn-tinted, pre-pulpit hours, the seeming absurdity of what I believe hits me. The fear that God isn’t. The fear that “why?” has no answer. The valley of the shadow of doubt.
To one degree or another we all venture into the valley. In the final pages of Luke’s gospel, the physician-turned-historian dedicated his last chapter to answering one question: how does Christ respond when we doubt him?
For both the dejected Emmaus bound disciples (Luke 24:13-35) and the frightened upper room disciples (Luke 24:36-49): A meal is served, the Bible is taught, the disciples find courage, and we find two practical answers to the critical question, what would Christ have us do with our doubts?
His answer? Touch my body and ponder my story. We still can, you know. We can still touch the body of Christ. We’d love to touch his physical wounds and feel the flesh of the Nazarene. Yet when we brush up against the church, we do just that. “The church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself ” (Eph. 1:23 NLT).
Christ distributes courage through community; he dissipates doubts through fellowship. He never deposits all knowledge in one person but distributes pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to many. When you interlock your understanding with mine, and we share our discoveries . . . When we mix, mingle, confess, and pray, Christ speaks.
The adhesiveness of the disciples instructs us. They stuck together. Even with ransacked hopes, they clustered in conversant community. They kept “going over all these things that had happened” (Luke 24:14 MSG). Isn’t this a picture of the church—sharing notes, exchanging ideas, mulling over possibilities, lifting spirits? And as they did, Jesus showed up to teach them, proving “when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there” (Matt. 18:20 MSG).