Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Bad Rap

Thomas. Was he so wrong? Most think so. How dare he? Who did he think he was asking Christ to prove Himself? Come on, if he didn't get it after spending the last three years with Him what more does he need?

Thomas was probably more right than any of them. He knew what to look for in the risen Christ. He didn't doubt He would be back. He believed Christ's warnings about false teachers and none of them could have pulled the resurrection off.

My opinion, Thomas had the guts to speak up and ask Jesus face to face what the others were to cowardly to say before. Didn't they dismiss the ladies who tried to convince them after they ran from seeing His empty tomb before they got to see Him person? Thomas wasn't present during that time. Double standard if you ask me.

Thomas receives such a bad rap. "Doubting Thomas" we have dubbed him. "Doubting" that has been mistranslated from Hellenistic Greek. Jesus doesn't call him doubting. He simply tells him he can believe He is Who says He is. That He is not an impostor.

Thomas was no more doubtful than the rest as he was no less human than the rest. No less human than you or I. He was just more honest. He spoke with an honest heart. His request came from a sincere heart. There is even a measure of a mustard seed of faith in doubt. And for that Thomas was not rebuked for his doubt. (John 20:20-29) Yet we have been quick to make him a bad example.

Thomas knew very well and believed that Jesus was leaving would return to them. It was Thomas who spoke up and asked Jesus, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" while sticking by His side as many others walked out. It was Thomas who was the only one who refused to talk Jesus out of difficult situations. Even those that could have meant death.

There was something about him that needed the tactile experience to make what he saw and even heard REAL to him. He needed to trust more than his eyes and more than the words he heard to truly let his heart believe. Thomas needed evidence. It was just evidence that "this" man was who he said he was. Not that Christ was who He said He was.

Thomas wasn't a "doubter," he just needed a tactile experience to hang his love on. He had full faith in Christ.

I don't know about you, but like most humans I have difficulty truly understanding something until I have held it in my hands.

There are not many of us who do not need to touch, to taste, to feel things in order to cement them into our minds. That doesn't brand us as suspicious or distrusting. Sometimes we need to fall off the low wall to understand that the bricks are wobbly.

We all hang our love, our passions and our beliefs on experiences. Who could honestly say, "Oh I can love even without experience. I would just believe. My faith would carry me through." The truth is we fail to recognize that a major part of our belief and faith is the result of the tangible seeds we see evident in others.

Those of us who've walked a spiritual road for more than a year or two know that faith without touch only lasts for a bit. And when tested it falters.

We are human and God made us with a nature with a healthy drive for evidence. We are never commanded to believe "just because." Christ Himself said many times, "so that you may believe" just before performing some kind of miracle.

I love my wife and I know she loves me. And I shudder at the thought of our relationship without evidence. Would it be enough for me just to tell my wife, "I love you" and nothing more?  Would empty words fulfill her need of a marriage relationship and cease to pursue her? Would shallow words from her sustain my devotion? Could our marriage last based on words alone? Perhaps. Maybe even without conflict. But a relationship it wouldn't be. And that's not what God designed it to be. Nor is it the relationship He desires with me.

It's why it's easier to love my wife when and after doing something; spending the day together, watching a favorite show, completing a project. Somehow touching and doing connect the real-life of us to the heart. To the "I believe" part of who I am.

Suspicion. Hesitation. Unbelief. Doubt. Call it whatever you like, but would it surprise you to think of it as progress?

It's a recognition that spiritually, emotionally, even theologically, we are growing, changing and hopefully maturing. But the most significant of all; growing closer with Christ. How can doubting mean progress or growth?

We look back and acknowledge that, for many of us, the person we were a year ago, five years, or ten years ago we would've accepted things the way they were never acknowledging Christ. Never giving second thought to if one thing or another was a hindrance or an aid to our relationship.

We look back, see our stories, and we try to extend a little grace to our younger selves. And we all should.

It's a process, this becoming. Becoming what? Becoming who? Becoming all we were ever intended to be. Becoming whole. Shedding layers of falsehoods in order to bare down and simplify ourselves.

Question our faith? But faith isn't belief. Faith is not mental assent to a set of statements as true. Question our beliefs. Do they line up with our faith?

Faith works. Faith lives. Faith inverts our priorities and rewrites our lives, changing the way we make decisions.

Like those with Thomas with sad consistency, we rail against others with the ridiculously and impatient idea that, whatever progress, real or not, we've made, everyone else should be there now. But we fool ourselves.

I wonder if part of that impatience with other is in fact a hint that we have not made peace with our own journey? That are disappointed in our lack progress. We want to fix them, or rather we want to fix us, all at once. We want to pretend we've never been there. Our facade of perfection has no room for having once held that view.

Church tradition tells us after the ascension, Thomas travelled all over the known world, namely India, and before his own martyrdom was one the most bravest and active apostles.

Thomas had the guts the speaks up. Thomas wasn't afraid to be vulnerable and express his need and he was still accepted. Thomas followed Christ to his death.

Thomas has gotten a bad rap.

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A Recycled-Dad with Bipolar & Parkinson's, reflections on fathering and family life and other stuff thrown in'll love my Soap Box Rants

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Why I call myself a Recycled Dad

I call myself a Recycled Dad because of the struggles with remarriage and being a step-parent and weekend dad. This is also about my life living with bipolar and how it affects me personally, my family and my job. It also reflects on the grace God has poured out on me throughout recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder. Recycled Dad is about my reflections on the wisdom God teaches daily on fatherhood and being a better husband in spite of being bipolar.

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