“But these things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that believing, you will have life in his name.” John 20:31 (CEB)
The week after Easter the lectionary always has the story of Thomas, the disciple who doubted. What we often miss (because we focus so much on his story) is that Jesus showed the other disciples earlier his hands and his side. They saw the wounds and believed, too.
Thomas really has had a bad rap by being called Doubting Thomas; yet, it’s important to learn from him that doubt is a normal part of the journey of faith. I remember one of my colleagues asking, “Do you ever wonder if this is all a crock?”
In the silence that descended on the room where we were meeting with a bunch of other clergy, we could almost feel the shock and tension his question caused. During our discussion that followed, we all agreed that doubt is normal and helps us to grow stronger in our faith when we work through it.
One of the most agonizing experiences for me as a pastor is to watch especially the teenagers and young adults in the congregation struggle with believing. As they grow older, their perceptions and interpretations are challenged, and often they turn away from God or at least put God on the “back burner.”
We do that as adults. Many people who have felt the call the ministry enter seminary and find that the stories of Jesus they heard in their childhood are very different when examined through a theological exegesis. Some work through it, and some drop out of seminary and quit the church all together.
The last verse of the gospel of John reminds us that what we read in the Bible is only a small pinch of who Jesus was and his impact on the world. We begin with scripture, but we also have our experience, the traditions of the church (which can get muddles sometimes!), and our ability to learn and figure things out.
My Bible study participants recognize that I am always learning from them, as I hope they are learning from me. If we are closed to learning new things and having our boundaries pushed, we will give up and stay stuck in a faith that is not active but static. We may not literally SEE the hands and feet and side of Jesus, but we all want to have more proof.
So, if that’s true, let’s look for Jesus Christ at work in the world through acts of grace and mercy, compassion and love, care and concern for the poor and outcast or for those in trouble, sick, lonely, grieving, seeking, hoping, wishing, longing to know the hands and feet of Jesus through us.
Perhaps some of the doubting is because the church (the people ARE the church) doesn’t live out their faith. Too many come to worship to meet their own needs rather than to discover what God is calling them to do for Christ in the world.
How do we bring Christ to the world?
How do our actions and words reveal him?
In what ways can we bring the kingdom of God more fully into reality?
“These things are signs in Jesus’ name so the world may believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that believing, the world will have life in his name!”
How do you work through your doubts?
How are you offering Christ to the world?