Why should I believe?

Freshwater Staff   -  

Our Curious Christmas series concluded on Christmas Eve with the most important question of all: Why should I believe?

Pastor Sean opened by listing some of the reasons for doubt and disbelief in the face of faith – past experiences, past wounds at the hand of someone claiming to follow Jesus, difficulty seeing God through the struggles of life.

The good news is, those of us who doubt find ourselves in good company because the Bible is full of people asking “why?”

The reason we ask those big “Why” questions is because we are searching for a big “Why” answer. Not just answers to the usual questions but the culmination of all those questions coming together to form something we can fully believe in.

We even see this struggle with doubt and how belief plays out individually in the Christmas account found in the first chapter of Luke.

Sean compared the question from Zechariah in Luke 1:5-25 with the question from Mary in verses 26-38.

When an angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah and said, “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John,” Zechariah replied, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

Meanwhile, when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and said, “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High,” Mary replied, “How will this be…since I am a virgin?”

On the surface, these are two similar responses, and yet, what happens next to Zechariah and Mary was very different.

The angel responded to Zechariah by taking away his ability to speak “because you did not believe my words,” whereas Gabriel responded to Mary by explaining, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

Zechariah – a priest steeped in the Scriptures, a man with all the answers, a teacher of the supernatural history God’s work who probably taught the prophecy of the coming Messiah. When met with the power of this message, Zechariah’s belief waned. His belief was tainted by cynicism and he doubted the big answer he had waited his life to hear. He saw a beat up old man and a woman who he believed had passed child-bearing age, and he allowed those worldly limitations to get in the way of a limitless God.

And Mary – who was probably impoverished, who lived under persecution from those in power, who likely found herself asking the why questions of everyday life. When responding to Gabriel, Mary’s first reaction is not that God cannot do it, but rather a belief based on trust in the God she knew, loved and clearly experienced in a way that brought about true faith.

Whereas Zechariah approached the proclamation of the angel with an attitude of “this cannot be for (fill in the blank),” Mary approached it with an attitude of expectancy and out of her overflow of faith. Still with commonsense biological questions but having the trust, the faith, the belief that this would happen.

Mary wasn’t given all the details and she had no way of understanding the fullness of this proclamation, but she refused to allow the worldly limitations get in the way of a limitless God.

There is something simple, childlike, to Mary’s belief. Zechariah took a path of doubt and a lack of faith while Mary took the path of faithful trust.

Did both end up at similar places? Yes! Zechariah regains his ability to speak after his son is born in Luke 1:64, and he immediately spends 13 verses proclaiming a renewed belief in the Lord.

But hear this warning: Living a life of distrust and cynicism will continue to take your voice. You will live in the past. You will live under the pressure of worldly things. And, like Zechariah, you might miss the fullness of the big “why” answer.

Comparing and contrasting these stories shows us:

  • Like Zechariah, we will have doubt sometimes creep in but God can take that doubt if we let Him.
  • And like Mary, we can cast all doubt down at Jesus’ feet and move with expectancy and faith that he will accomplish what he says he will

And this accomplished work is amazing, miraculous, redeeming. And Mary, by faith, had a front-row seat.

Watch the Message
Worship Songs from 12/24
  • “Joy to the World”
  • “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”
  • “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
  • “Here in the Presence”
  • “O Holy Night”
  • “Mary Did You Know?” (after the message)
  • “Silent Night” (after the message)