Easy answers are great things, are they not?
If only we could have them more of the time.
I would like to think that every now and again I could have something I was totally and without reservation sure of…. But so far that has never happened.
Death and Taxes… the only two things you can count on…. However, in my humble opinion not even those two are sure… my taxes change year by year and I never know whether I owe money or am going to get like a huge bonus… and death? Surely you have come to the same conclusion as I have; that I might live to be 120 years old and I might be dead by the end of the day… Doesn’t sound very certain does it?
Really, is there anything that you don’t wonder about, at least every now and again? It could be as simple as, is red wine a good or a bad thing… all the way up to, why do people who seem to be good have such bad things happen to them…
There are moments when conviction grabs hold of us… you are going to hear one in a second when I read from Peter’s first sermon in Jerusalem… but even for Peter, the head of the church after Jesus died, that conviction was fleeting and he had his bad moments… He thought too much… he had a lot of questions…
And I would like to suggest to you that thinking about things is the reason that God gave us the minds we have in the first place.Elijah the Pancake Hunter
Story from Mark Gillman “God’s Mailbox”Conviction
So what is conviction? IS your faith more precious than Gold? Are you willing like Peter to stand in the marketplace and declare that Jesus has died and is risen and that it changes everything? Do you love him? Believe in him? Or like the Psalmist is your heart glad that God leads you through each and every moment of life – preserving you from danger?
You know what news is, right? News is anything that is “out of the ordinary” at the end of the day those reporters come on TV or sit down behind their computers and start talking about everything that was surprising… a shooting… which hardly ever happens… a stabbing down on Main Street… only once in the last five years… and NDP upsurge… unheard of… these things are news.
The fact that someone was so assured of God’s love and grace that they did not fear the enemy, or death,… the fact that they felt they knew the purpose of their life… like Paul wrote in our letter or The Psalmist wrote in his poem - this was news.
Most people were far more like Elisha the Pancake Hunter – just trying to figure things out…
Or like Thomas… Unsure of what it all means… but we will get there…
For now I want you to recognize that the type of faith that moves mountains and never wavers – that faith has almost never happened. And when it does, it is fleeting.
There are characters in the Bible I have real affinity for. I guess I like the underdogs… I always want to defend Joseph when Christmas comes around, and point out that he did not get enough recognition for his part in the whole Mary pregnancy scandal thing….
Then there is Judas… the most misunderstood and vilified of all the Biblical Characters; who I swear thought he was doing a good thing in forcing Jesus’ hand… or at least believed he was doing what God and even Jesus wanted him to do in order to make things happen according to plan.
Thomas is another one who I don’t get why he has a negative reputation… Let’s be serious; I come to you and tell you that I have seen your dead friend walking around last night… is you going to believe me right away?
Besides which, the other disciples were not unafraid and confident… they were cowering in the back while Jesus tried to convince them it was all right…
So let’s skip this and say Thomas was not extraordinary… that the doubting Thomas thing should not have stuck the way it did; and look at it a different way.
This story is about recognizing resurrection.
Thomas is not the main character, just one of the characters.
It is a story about us…. About what we need in order to know that God is at work in the world…
More importantly – it is a story about what is possible once you find out.
Thomas was the disciple who needed time, space, and evidence in order to come up with a plan to move forward. He wanted to figure it out and he had his doubts about what was happening.
He was also the only disciple to spread Christianity outside of the Roman Empire… he travelled to Egypt; He travelled to India; he travelled throughout Syria; he apparently wrote one of the most interesting collections of quotes from Jesus, The Gospel of Thomas – and he got into a few fights with Peter along the way.
That is why his impact on Christianity has all but been forgotten. That is why he got the bad name… it was political…
What Thomas actually was as a person was the most effective and surest of all the twelve… he was the one who was careful, who had doubts, but then used those doubts to figure out his life and to move on…
He never looked for easy answers and neither should we.