What if it is not true?
Weekly Word

The question was raised to me this week.

“Pastor, what if it is not true? What if it is not true: the Jesus story, the God story, heaven and hell. What if it is not true? What if THIS is all there is?”

I love questions of faith and doubt. It seems to me that they are equally important. No matter how “strong” your belief is, there are still moments of profound doubt. Mother Teresa’s diary told the story of a saint who walked daily with the twins: faith and doubt.

“Pastor, what if it is not true?”

I have considerable doubt in my life. I don’t really doubt God, but I certainly doubt my ability to comprehend God. I doubt my capacity to grasp the mystery and majesty of God. The list of uncertainties is much longer than the litany of certainties. I am quite sure that there are many things that I have wrong.

“Pastor, what if it is not true?”

I am not even sure what “true” means. If Jesus did not walk the earth, if he did not live and die for us, if he was not raised from the dead, then it is not true, right? Then the details that I have held as true for all of my life are not accurate, but that does not mean that they are not “true.”

What is “true” must be the “truth” by definition. The Bible clearly tells us that “truth” only has one source and that is God. Perhaps the truth comes to us, even in the midst of stories that are not historically accurate. Perhaps the “whole truth” will always be beyond my comprehension. But that does not mean that all “truth” is beyond comprehension.

“You are dodging the question Pastor. What if it is not true?”

If there is no heaven or hell, then how would I want to live my life on earth? If there is no heaven or hell, then it is all about me right? I am going to look out for number one.

So, let me be very selfish in asking, how am I going to find the most joy, peace, meaning and purpose during the 70 or so years that I have here? The answer, of course, is the truth. We find abundant life not in possessions, but in relationship to others. We find meaning and purpose in life by getting outside of ourselves and serving others.

The email exchange ended in this way. “Pastor, what if death is the end?” I responded, “This one does not worry me. If I am right, then the adventure continues and begins again. If I am wrong, then still I will return to whatever gave me the gift of life in the first place. I will return to dust and rubble and that is OK. And if I am wrong, then as least I had the opportunity to live a hopeful and optimistic life. Perhaps helping others to live without quite so much fear; fear of God, fear of life, fear of death.

Either way, it is in the creator’s hands, not mine. I cannot change reality one bit by believing or doubting. But believing can change my reality now. That is enough for me.”

See you in church this Sunday! I promise you that it will be worth your time.


Pastor Jim