“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” That was the disparaging question posed by a sincere sceptic by the name of Nathanael in John 1:46, a seeker of truth whose character Jesus described as being “guileless”—an honest, good hearted, down to earth sceptic, disillusioned with corrupt religion! This disillusioned Jew was just the kind of raw material God loves to build His Kingdom with. They’re everywhere and Christ knows them, inside and out!
The inhabitants of Nazareth in Jesus’ day had a rather poor reputation of displaying a low moral and religious standard, which ultimately resulted in them rejecting Him as their only Hope of salvation—“He came unto His own and His own received Him not” John 1:11. That was the chip on Nathanael’s shoulder. Sounds like this man could have come from any city or church today in Canada that has wilfully refused the Word of truth, boldly spoken by the faithful prophets of the Lord for such a time as this.
I’ve been told there are a number of “sceptics” in Orillia, Ontario where I live, who for one reason or another, have given up on their church. I can believe that. I can understand that. I was once a sceptic as well—a sincere one—one who had been burned by the church of legalism, piously disguised as tradition and old, worn wine skins that have passed their time and usefulness. In other words, a sanctimonious system run by hypocritical hirelings, having a form of godliness but lacking power, love and compassion for the defenceless, wounded lambs entrusted to them by God. Like Nathanael, these are vulnerable victims forced into wandering aimlessly through dangerous paths of deception where vicious wolves in sheep’s clothing still hunt for the solitary prey.
One would think the term, “sceptic” describes a callous unbeliever or shallow doubter. Not so. One dictionary defines scepticism as “the suspension of belief”—genuine faith merely put on hold but not altogether abandoned. It depicts an innocent person who has been wrongly victimized by someone or something they put their fragile hope in—hope that was sadly shattered to the point of temporarily dismissing the thought of any good thing ever again coming out of it. These are the disenchanted sceptics, who like Nathanael ask today, “Can anything good come out of our scandalous churches?” An honest question answered with three simple words—“Come and see!” And there was Jesus! He is still the sincere sceptic’s bright hope!
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