Sunday, 20 April 2014

Seeing & Believing

“Thomas, Thomas, Jesus is alive! The tomb is empty and the women have seen him!”

“Come off it, John, the women are deluded. I saw him with my own eyes: he’s dead!”

“Thomas, Thomas, Jesus is alive! The tomb is empty and now we’ve all seen him!”

“Don’t be daft, Peter, you’re all deluded. He’s dead, we were wrong, it’s over!”

“Thomas, Thomas, I am alive. Come and see, come and feel.”

“Jesus, my Lord and my God!”

“Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe.”

Thomas, ‘Doubting Thomas’, gets some unfair stick, it seems to me, largely because people get confused about doubt and faith thinking they are opposites. But the opposite of doubt is certainty, and church history shows only too well that blind certainty has little to do with faith. Faith is about trust, active trust, and the Bible’s use of ‘believing’ carries the same meaning, more often than not.

I know a lady whose life was kicked apart a few years back, from many directions at once, like Job’s. Her beliefs about God were smashed with it. Yet, somehow, in all the fog of doubt, there remains a spark, and still she is able to continue to follow God, with tiny faltering steps. She is amazing! Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe.

I used to know a man, some years back, who was a recovering addict. He became clean at a Christian rehab, and picked up there a simple faith of hard certainties. It was necessary: addiction is an evil, horrible thing, which will attack and exploit any weakness, any uncertainty. It makes for a difficult walk in the outside world, with all its complexity and ambiguity, but he walked that line, through the glare of crystalline certainty, with precise, carefully placed steps. Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe.

Sometimes people have no choice, but what about the rest of us? How diligently do we investigate our doubts, how humbly do we see other points of view?

Thomas, Thomasina, Jesus is alive! The tomb is empty. The women have met him, the men have met him, hundreds have seen him, most of whom were still alive when the bulk of the New Testament was written. The disciples were persecuted, tortured and killed, for claiming that Jesus is alive, raised from the dead, yet they carried on doing so. Most of all, as Jesus once told John the Baptist: 
“The blind receive sight,
The lame walk,
Those with leprosy are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
And the good news is preached to the poor.

Blessed are those who have not seen, yet have believed.

... Happy Easter ...

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