We’ve all heard about Doubting Thomas. Generally‚ people think of Thomas in a bit of a negative way because he had a hard time believing the Good News!
Obviously‚ Thomas “The Twin” was a very rational human being. Because of that‚ he kept missing it.
Some of the most embarrassing statements made by any of Jesus’ disciples‚ come from Thomas.
Therefore Thomas‚ who is called Didymus‚ said to his fellow disciples‚ “Let us also go‚ so that we May die with Him.”
Thomas *said to Him‚ “Lord‚ we do not know where You are going‚ how do we know the way?” Jesus *said to him‚ “I am the way‚ and the truth‚ and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
And yet Jesus didn’t reject or humiliate his apostle for struggling to believe. Maybe because Thomas represents so many of us and so many of us would identify with him in this day and age of skepticism?
But I think it’s safe to say that at the end Thomas “got it”.
Now let’s be honest – some people come to faith in Jesus and they already believe in ghosts‚ spirits‚ and goblins. I didn’t.
But I had become convinced that we as humans not only have a soul‚ but the actual ‘me’‚ just like the actual ‘you’‚ is in fact a soul living in a physical body. I was already convinced that the soul will continue to live on forever.
So I had the “basics” in place.
And‚ if you had asked me at any point up to when I got saved at the age of 20‚ I would have told you myself that if there is any true justice under Heaven‚ I shouldn’t be allowed in there. This is‚ I knew I was sinner who deserved to burn in hell! I was sure sin is a real thing‚ I just didn’t know how it’s possible to rid yourself of it.
In fact‚ I had this deep sense of grief and the sense of being lost eternally when I was already five years old. If someone had presented to me the Gospel at the time when I was five‚ I would have received Jesus on the spot and it would have been the real deal. So when I became a teenager‚ I started to try this drown out this deep-level despair in alcohol and in every way other way possible – parties‚ friends…girlfriends; I tried to live “life” to the max or at least whatever everyone thought “freedom” and “life” were all about.
Through my high school years and later on in the 2nd year of the lab technician program I graduated after high-school‚ I became even more convinced of the things I had known and suspected‚ such as the metaphysical nature of the soul.
This happened due to three things:
1) I had a chance to be exposed to the raw reality of death from close up‚ on a daily basis. This would cause any normal human being to seriously examine the deeper questions of life. After all‚ everyone has to make up their own mind whether they believe they are nothing more than this living human robotic machine (or just one of the animal species) that breaks down one day and you’re gone. Or‚ if you do have a soul indeed and you get to live beyond the physical death everyone will experience?
2) I was also reading the likes of Blaise Pascal and Sören Kierkegaard‚ whose writings confirmed to me the validity of many of my questions – questions you weren’t supposed to have in a Communist society. I had no idea that Pascal and Kierkegaard are the premier Christian philosophers who have given shape to much of what we might call the “coming to faith by use of reason”. In other words‚ you don’t need to check out your brain at the door when it comes to matters of faith. And that’s huge! It certainly was a relief to me back then and ever since. Pascal wrote about knowing God personally and that was an amazing proposition coming from one of the greates scientific and philosophical minds ever.
3) I realized that it’s okay to doubt and fear and to have questions‚ so long as I didn’t concoct my own answers just so I can avoid the discomfort and despair that comes with deep questions…and no answers.
I realized I had to be brutally honest with myself in my quest for answers and I would have to accept God’s arguments on his terms not mine. I was already convinced that my ability to think and reason had inherent limitations and if I don’t acknowledge this‚ I will enter what some might call “intellectually dishonest” territory‚ which is basically a nice way of saying you become a fool due to your own pride.
I was hungry to know about God and once I began to read the Gospels‚ some things began to click. But the part I had a real difficulty with‚ was the supernatural part. The biblical worldview unapologetically demands us to accept not only the philosophy of salvation (which speaks to the very essence of the reason for the existence of man)‚ but the supernatural nature of salvation and the Savior Himself‚ too.
That’s where I had to really let go and trust.
Because again‚ like I said‚ I wasn’t one of those people who believed in ghosts and goblins.
Which is why I can relate to Thomas. Even though he lived in a very different era‚ doubt is doubt and his’ was a legitimate doubt‚ not some religious fanatic doubting whether angels can be 10 feet tall because he’s convinced they are at most 8 feet tall!
No‚ I was the kind who would laugh in your face if you started to talk to me about angels and demons.
Talk about “God” I could handle. Talk about Jesus I could handle. But all the other stuff? Please!
As I began to press deeper into the Bible‚ I realized however‚ that’s it’s impossible to accept the biblical worldview without accepting the supernatural element of who God is and what he has done supernaturally back in time as documented in the Bible. Not only that but I had to accept the very idea that the whole thing of “getting to know Him” (which many Christians use as a cliche these days)‚ is in fact an invitation into the supernatural today. Now THAT was as exciting as it was scary. How do you do that? How do I know I won’t get into some weird mind-control thing where I’m just being played by some con-artist (preachers and churches)?
Yup‚ those are the kind of things a true “pagan” worries about‚ trust me! Because the one last thing that you feel like you have in this world is your own human dignity and you certainly don’t want some con-artist to play you into making a fool out of yourself.
That’s where I was in my thinking process 27-28 years ago‚ right before I had my encounter with God. In retrospect‚ I think this is a very good place to be at if you mean business with God. To me‚ that was my ‘true bottom’. Which became part of the compass that led me to my ‘true north’. Where you might say I found the true North Star!
(And now I sound like a true Minnesota convert. And probably a bit cheesy. Oh‚ well‚ just read on if you would).
So yeah‚ I think I can say I was a kind of a Doubting Thomas.
But Jesus loved Thomas fully and had him convinced by offering to him the unthinkable – to stick his finger into his wounds! Now THAT is mind blowing!
If someone was to make up a myth‚ why would they have the mythical hero rise up from the dead and start going around dealing with individuals like Doubting Thomas? Super gods don’t have time for anyone’s drama‚ right?
The idealization of the mythical figure would certainly include the element of automatic acceptance by the most loyal of his disciples. Just read the “sacred” books of all these other religions and cults and you’ll see what I mean.
The Old and the New Testament‚ the Bible‚ is THE ONLY sacred‚
Holy Scripture‚ which honors man and places enormous value in the human soul! This is what all of Western Civilization is based on. This is the one distinctive that is impossible to miss‚ if you were to compare what various belief systems claim as truly central and important to the god or gods they speak for.
“What is man…?”‚ asked David some 3‚000 years ago.
What is man that You take thought of him‚
And the son of man that You care for him? Psalms 8:4
A mythical super-Jesus‚ who might have been created by a human mind‚ would scold Thomas for his disbelief.
But He didn’t. Because Jesus is real‚ because he is still the Son of Man and the Son of God‚ all at the same time and because he has compassion for the ones who bear the image of the Creator.
Thomas needed to go through his process. This process accounts for who we are as human beings and the space we need to deal with our own inadequacies. And it reveals to us a compassionate Savior who had respect for our humanity.
As I read the account of when Thomas stuck his hand into Jesus’ pierced side and hands‚ I realize he did it for me. And perhaps for you as well‚ if you can handle it.
I also realize that Jesus spoke to us‚ saying‚ “Blessed are they who did not see‚ and yet believed!”
Then He said to Thomas‚ “Reach here with your finger‚ and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving‚ but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him‚ “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him‚ “Because you have seen Me‚ have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see‚ and yet believed.” John 20:27-29
I chose to be blessed some 27 years ago and I have never looked back. Not for a second!
I chose to be blessed today and I am incredibly blessed indeed! In spite of all kinds of difficulties and challenges I have encountered in life‚ I am blessed to have had an encounter with Him and to have become one with him through the Spirit.
And like Paul said to king Agrippa in his defense speech:
“I would wish to God‚ that whether in a short or long time‚ not only you‚ but also all who hear me this day‚ might become such as I am‚ except for these chains.” (Acts 26:29)
Likewise‚ apart from the difficulties and persecutions I have had to deal with for the Kingdom‚ I wish that everyone was like me. My soul is in a good place and at peace with the Father‚ in love with Jesus and in a sweet communion with the Holy Spirit. What more can anyone neeed to be happy and blessed?
Do I have challenges? Plenty!
Will they cause me to despair? Nope.
Do I have my own doubts and fears? Like every human being‚ yes I do.
Ignorance never doubts.
Ignorance is not realizing that times are always uncertain.
Truly mature leaders know that things don’t go from uncertain to certain. They go from uncertain to less uncertain.
Mature people understand that:
- Decisions impact others.
- Circumstances change.
- Failure is possible.
- Boldness without doubt is tragedy waiting to happen.
What about Thomas? Church history tells us that he traveled as far as India and brought the Gospel of the Kingdom to this entire continent‚ ultimately dying as a martyr for the Risen Master whose hands he had touched on that fateful day after the resurrection.
He lived and died as a blessed man of God and he lived life fully!
Now that I think of it‚ I wouldn’t mind this one for an epitaph.
You get to choose your own 🙂