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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Doubting Thomas

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[April 20, 2010]   --"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger on the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."-John 20:25

These are the words uttered by Thomas after being told that the other disciples had seen the risen Christ.  Thomas was skeptical and so he told them that unless he could literally touch the wounds of Christ, the wounds which he felt would make it clear that this Christ was no hoax, then he would not believe.  It is easy for us to understand Thomas' disbelief.  He had not been there to see Christ arisen nor had he had the opportunity to assess things for himself.  He was left with only the testimony of others and his own experience of the world; that the dead did not come back, with which to process this information.  Thomas takes a bad rap for this; tradition has not dealt kindly with him for his lack of faith.  His nickname alone, "Doubting Thomas," has seen to that.  But none of us are any different from him, really.  I think few of us would decline the opportunity to see Christ in the flesh, to know, for a fact, that he was the Christ and had risen from the dead.  Most of us would line up for just such an opportunity.

But I ask you this, what would it change in your life if you knew, for certain, that Jesus is the Christ?  Would you be nicer to others?   Would you give away more money?  Would you attend worship more frequently?  What in your life would actually change?  And, further I ask you, if you knew for certain and did more to serve Jesus, how would your feelings change?  You would likely feel compelled to do these things.  The joy, the hope, the choice in each individual act of service to Christ would slowly be taken away and we would be left as Christian slaves, compelled to follow Jesus by the knowledge and experience of our encounter with him.  Jesus frequently talked about his disciples being slaves (the Bible sanitizes this for us and substitutes the word "servants") but this was not what he meant.  He did not want Christian automatons, rather he wanted disciples and followers who conformed themselves to him and his teachings not because they had to but because they wanted to.  Very few people have had such encounters with the risen Christ and for good reason, Thomas' way is not the best way to experience him.

Prayer:  Holy God, fill me this day with the promise of your presence and the power of your Spirit, that I might be a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. Help me to joyfully give of myself in service of him.  I pray in his name, Amen.

[Phil Blackburn, First Presbyterian Church]

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