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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Just Thomas

John 20:29, "...blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (NIV).

Sometimes I think we're a little hard on Thomas...  you know... that one disciple who doubted...

I'm not saying that he didn't doubt.  Jesus calls him on the carpet.  But, interestingly, if you go back and read the narrative, Thomas wasn't really any different than anyone else.

In verse 20, when Jesus appears to the other disciples, he shows them his wounds.  It is immediately following this that they are overjoyed, having seen the Lord.  The only real differences for Thomas are that he wasn't there at this appearance, and he's honest enough to say that he'll have to see it to believe it.  I'm not sure his faith in Jesus is any weaker than that of his friends (they, also, saw before they believed).  It's his faith in his friends' words that seems to falter.

I read this quote the other day, and I don't know to whom to attribute it:

"People want you to be honest... until you say something honest they don't like." 

I think this is exactly what happened with Thomas.  He crossed the line.  He said what everybody else was thinking and, in fact, what everyone else acted on.  We can't judge the rest of them too harshly, because their doubt is nuanced, but Thomas...  he put it right out there...

Sometimes I feel like Thomas... 

The doubting?  Sure.  But more than that the words.  The words that, even in a group of people who think and act and feel and believe just like me, put a target on my face, because I'm the one who actually says them... out loud...

From what we can gather, after the ascension Thomas goes on to preach the gospel of Christ in areas of the world where, quite frankly, most of us still don't want to go, today.  He brings Christ to those who have not seen and experiences what it is when they believe.  He embodies what it is to leave everything, to love the less than loveable, to do what he was called to do.  He is eventually martyred.   

And still, we remember him as "doubting Thomas".

I'm going to stop describing him like that, because I don't think there's a whole lot of grace in labeling people based on what they once were in a moment wracked with grief and pain.

So, just Thomas...  Thank you. 

Thank you for being someone who was willing to articulate what so many others didn't dare say.  Thank you for being someone who was willing to recognize your error.  Thank you for being someone who got back up again, someone who did what mattered when it counted, someone whose story contained so many more details than the text could ever hold.

We need examples like that.

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