Summary: See how Jesus can transform doubting, discouraged, defeated disciples into passionate followers.
Introducion- Have you ever seen someone transformed from a pessimistic defeated person into a passionate enthusiastic person? (Show the congregation two sections from the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”. The first section is when George is considering suicide. The second section is after George has discovered a new passion for life) Which of those two mind-sets would you rather have, the pessimistic defeated attitude or the happy, victorious, passionate attitude? George Bailey (James Stewart) was a pessimistic defeated man until he met an angel named Clarence. The Clarence’s personal touch (under God’s direction)transformed George Bailey’s life. He was changed from doom and gloom to purpose and passion.
The same thing can happen today. Jesus Christ would like to touch your life. He would like to give you new purpose and passion. We are going to look at a text where Jesus touched one of His disciples. With His touch he transformed a discouraged, defeated, doubting disciple into a new man.
-Read text: John 20:24-28
Prior to this encounter there was a time when Thomas was willing to die for Jesus (see John 11:15-16). He was filled with zeal and passion. However, since then much had changed. Jesus had died on the cross. Jesus had risen from the grave. Thomas was stuck in a pre-resurrection mentality. He was discouraged. He had lost his enthusiasm. He had become a skeptic. Even though people shared the good news of Jesus resurrection, Thomas would not believe their stories. Thomas needed to regain his passion.
Do you need to regain your passion? Do you feel that you are stuck in your spiritual life? Maybe you have been through something that has caused you to stop growing in your spiritual life. You are discouraged.
I want you to join me in observing what happened to Thomas. When Thomas touched Jesus he was transformed. He was changed from a pessimist to an optimist. He was changed from a discouraged disciple to a passionate disciple. I pray that every one of us will receive that touch today. In handling this text I want to ask and answer three questions.
1. The first question is, what causes us to lose spiritual passion? What caused Thomas to lose his passion. What caused him to be such a discouraged, defeated man? Obviously, unbelief and discouragement were his problems.
What about us? What causes us to lose passion? What causes us to live defeated lives? I want to discuss some of the real life issues that cause us to lose heart and to become discouraged in our walk with Christ.
A. People who are active and serving in ministry can become tired and burned out and lose their spiritual passion.
(Refer to Elijah’s burn out in I Kings 19)
B. People who are hurting can lose their spiritual passion. On more than one occasion I have seen the fires of passion snuffed out in hurting people’s lives. Sometimes it is the hurt that is taking place because of family problems. Sometimes it is due to sickness.
C. People who are disillusioned will lose their spiritual passion. Most any church you visit will have scars from church conflicts. When disagreements occur people will be disillusioned. People also are often disillusioned by leaders. I guarantee there are many people who were disillusioned by Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Baker. There are a lot of people who were disillusioned by Enron.
Ill- Years ago in Germany, there was a young Jewish boy who had a profound sense of admiration for his father. His family’s life centered on the acts of piety and devotion prescribed by their religion. The father was zealous in attending worship and religious instruction, and he demanded the same from his children. While the boy was a teenager, the family was forced to move to another town in Germany. There was no synagogue in the new town, and the pillars of the community all belonged to the Lutheran church. Suddenly the father announced to the family that they were going to abandon their Jewish traditions and join the Lutheran church. When the stunned family asked why, the father explained that changing religions was necessary to help his business. The youngster was bewildered and confused. His deep disappointment soon gave way to anger and a kind of intense bitterness that plagued him throughout his life. That disappointed son, disillusioned by his father’s lack of integrity, eventually left Germany and went to England to study. He sat daily at the British Museum, formulating various ideas and writing a book. In that work, he introduced an entirely new world-view, envisioning a movement that would change the social and political systems of the world. Drawing from past experiences with his father, he described religion as an “opiate for the masses” that could be explained totally in terms of economics and personal gain. Today, millions of people still live under the system invented by this embittered man, and millions more suffered under previous regimes that incorporated its values. His name, of course, was Karl Marx, and his idea was communism. And it all began with his father’s misuse of the name of God for the sake of profit.