Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Doubting Thomas

The figure of Thomas, known best from the resurrection story at the end of John's gospel, is characteristic of the modern dilemna about faith. Thomas demands empirical evidence of Jesus' resurrection - he won't believe until he can place his finger in the nail holes of Jesus' hands and put his own hand where a spear pierced Jesus' side.

The challenge of Christianity is not to 'believe six impossible things before breakfast' but to follow Jesus in proclaiming and living towards God's Kingdom. When Thomas is eventually confronted with the risen Christ, it is the experience that transforms him not the proofs. Faith is the result as much as it is the prerequisite for the Christian life.

The first Christians were known as 'The Way' because it was their lifestyle that was distinctive. The way that they interacted with each other and with those around them was noticed because they failed to conform to contemporary social expectations. Like the Jesus whom they followed, they associated with the poor, with sinners, with the sick and the marginalised. They brought redemption, hope, joy and new life to those who were suffering and by doing so, they proclaimed resurrection in both word and deed.

The Thomas mindset isn't a barrier to faith that needs to be overcome by apologetic proofs - it's a distraction from the real point 'that through this faith you might have life' (John 20:31).

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