Unless I see…I will not believe.
In my message on Sunday, I referred to Malcolm Gladwell’s most recent book, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know. Gladwell states that human beings naturally default to truth. In other words, most of the time we trust what people are saying unless we have a reason to believe otherwise. People tell us things every day and almost all of those things are true. “We default to truth…because we have no choice. Society cannot function otherwise,” writes Gladwell. Can you imagine what life would be like if we had serious doubts about every statement you heard every day? Imagine how much time and energy it would take to verify every single thing you hear. We simply cannot function like that.
On the other hand, there are people who lie on a regular basis. Gladwell tells his readers that we should listen to people who point out these lies. We should also pay attention to the signs that someone may not be telling the truth. For example, if you know that someone has lied to you, then you may want to check out the validity of their next statement. Furthermore, if there is someone who is normally trustworthy but their claim just sounds too unbelievable to be true, then you ought to check it out.
Thomas, Jesus’ disciple who did just that, has been criticized for 2,000 for doubting that Jesus rose from the dead. Yet, a closer look at the Gospels shines a much kinder light on Thomas. He was one of Jesus’ most devoted followers and would have laid down his life for him. However, when the other disciples told him that Jesus rose from the dead, well that just sounded to preposterous to believe without checking it out for himself. He basically told the others, “I will believe it when I see it with my own eyes”—and that’s exactly what happened. When the resurrected Jesus appeared to him, he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”
I pointed out that the noun “belief” shows up only once in the entire Bible (Revised Standard Version) but the verb “believe” (including “believes” and “believed”) shows up in 257 verses in the New Testament alone; and the book with most of the verses with that word is the Gospel of John. According to John, believing was extremely important to Jesus; and apparently, the quality of believing was way more important than the individual beliefs—otherwise, I think Jesus would have said the word “belief” at least once. I wonder what our world would be like today if Christians everywhere followed the example of John by emphasizing the quality of believing, in other words, believing with integrity, authenticity and compassion, believing in ways that enrich our lives, our relationships, and our communities.
For Jesus, the key was believing that, whoever you are, you matter to God; and whoever else is in the world, others matter to God. Let’s embrace these two beliefs and consider that possibly all other beliefs fall into place when we do.
I look forward to our next online worship service on Sunday!
Kahu Alan Akana
“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by Koloa Union Church, an Open & Affirming (ONA) congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.
To see a video of a recent message by Kahu Akana, click HERE. You may see the Koloa Union Church YouTube channel to see many of his past messages and subscribe in order be notified when a new message is posted. Please share these videos with friends and invite them to church. Please feel free to “Like” any of the videos you see and share them on social media, such as Facebook, so that others will notice them.
You are welcome to join us on Sunday mornings! To see our Sunday morning schedule, click HERE.
Kahu Akana is also an accomplished artist! He specializes in creating vibrant watercolors of the flowers of Hawaii and hosts a Sunday afternoon reception in a gallery at his home, the Smith Memorial Parsonage. He also meets visitors by appointment. Most of the profit from the sales go for the maintenance and upkeep of the parsonage. To see a video about his art and gallery, click HERE. To see the gallery website, click HERE.