Friday, 25 August 2017 14:36

The Skeptical Optimist

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What an oxymoron, the skeptical optimist. Is it possible for such a creature to exist? Yes, and you will find an example in John 6.

At the feeding of the 5,000 there was a skeptical optimist present in the crowd and his name was Andrew. When Jesus discovered the hunger needs of the crowd he asked if anyone had food. Andrew spoke up and said, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” (vs. 9)

I feel Andrew represented many who serve in ministry. He was aware of the need before him. He was aware of the potential at hand. Yet, his haunting question, “What are they?”

All of us are confronted with need daily. The church has the potential to touch those needs. However, sometimes we are skeptical about the solution.

Before criticizing Andrew let’s give him the credit he deserves.

  • Andrew was to be commended because he saw the boy. No one else seemed to notice the small boy.
  • Andrew was to be commended for his faithfulness. Apparently, he connected the boy with Jesus. From that effort Jesus performed a miracle.

Before going further, I want to commend those of you who serve in ministry. You may face overwhelming odds that seem stacked against you. Yet, you are faithful. You face many negatives and the chances of Jesus performing a miracle seem slim. Yet you are faithful.

Also, we might criticize Andrew’s lack of faith. There was a miracle lurking in the shadows, but he failed to see it. I do not want to minimize the need for growth in faith, when it is needed. Andrew needed to grow. Yet, give Andrew credit, he was at the forefront that day.

Notice two special points.

First, Jesus uses imperfect people. Andrew had imperfect faith. Andrew did not expect the miracle.

As you browse the Bible you see servants who were imperfect. Abraham lied on several occasions; Jacob was a manipulator; Noah got drunk; Elijah crashed; Moses was controlled by frustration; Thomas doubted; Peter denied the Lord.

Second, Jesus blesses effort, no matter how trivial. I believe Jesus blesses effort, even if it is not perfect. After all, none of us are perfect. This is not to take away from doing things with excellence. However, try as we may, we will never be perfect or do things with perfection.

This encourages me because I often find myself being a skeptical optimist. I find myself being skeptical because the church is filled with “humans.” I find myself being skeptical because the church is led by “humans.” I find myself being skeptical because the church is tainted by sin.

In spite of these attitudes I keep on keeping on. I keep seeking to be faithful. Who knows when Jesus may place His hand on one of our boys and do a miracle. When this happens, our faith will be transformed. Praise God when that day comes!

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