A couple Sundays ago, I went to church alone. As much as I love the experience and fellowship of going to church with my friends, I also love going to church solo. I’m free from distraction and able to really focus on the message. This particular Sunday was the Second Sunday of Easter, and per usual, the message was the Gospel of John 20:19-31.
In summary, Jesus had been resurrected and 11 of the 12 disciples saw him and rejoiced in his presence. The twelfth disciple, Thomas, was not present when Jesus came to see the other disciples, and when he heard the news, Thomas demanded that he see and feel the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side before believing that Jesus had really been resurrected. Although there are many important lessons and points of discussion in this passage, I’ll be focusing on John 20:29 (ESV),which says:
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
It is 2015. It is the Age of Information and we have the world at our fingertips.Google has billions of answers, just two seconds away. We fact check everything. We are suspicious of homeless people on the streets, of our government, of our neighbors, of our policemen, our friends, our children, our news stations…and we’re skeptical of God, too.
Let me write this disclaimer right here in nice pretty bold letters: This post is not meant to convince you that you are right or wrong for believing or not believing in God. Even as a Christian, I am a firm believer that everyone has the right and ability to make decisions for themselves and I respect those decisions. Also, this post uses generalizations. It does not apply to every single person in the world.
Moving on. I am guilty of the skepticism. I’m probably the biggest skeptic out there. My mom calls me her “little researcher” because I’ve been known to stay up until the wee hours of the morning researching trivial things that come up throughout the day as well as heavily researching every little (and big) purchase I make. If I’m having a casual conversation with someone and they say something that even remotely catches my interest as unfamiliar, grandiose, or simply too good to be true, you can bet that I’ll be on my phone scouring the internet for the truth once they walk away. I’m self-admitted a control freak. I love to know, and I love to be correct.
There are a lot of times – and I really mean a lot of times – that I have found myself questioning my faith. *gasp* Yes, I question my faith. All the time. “Why does God allow suffering?” “Is the Bible really inerrant? Because it was written by people, not God, and people make mistakes all the time.” “If God loves everyone and Jesus died for everyone’s sin, why do I see my brothers and sisters in Christ judging the sin around them?” “If God is so awesome, why does he need us to praise him all the time?” I am a wanna-be know-it-all to a fault, and not having all the answers regularly challenges my faith.
I have a criticism of the Christian community, and it’s that too often we shut out people with questions. We write them off. We tell them God has the answers. We call them non-believers, sinners (newsflash, we are too!), and more. We get frustrated. And why? Because we don’t know. We don’t have the answers. And why can’t we just say that? Why can’t we be honest? Why do we feel the audacity to tell people what God wants and what God needs when we. do. not. know. what He really wants because we’re not Him?!
Christians believe what we believe for a whole host of different reasons, but at the end of the day it’s a belief. And maybe it’s a fault that I think that way – some will jump on this post to let me know it’s “not just a belief” and yes, to some degree that is correct, but at its most simplest, purest form, it is a belief. And I’d rather be honest and tell my friends that, you know what, yeah I really do believe that Jesus Christ was crucified and was resurrected, and yeah, you know what, it does sound pretty darn crazy and I can’t tell you that I know for 100% fact that it happened, but I believe it anyway. But for some reason that’s looked down upon. Christians are scared of that. We are scared of the fact that it might not be true.
I saw a quote that said,
Faith begins where human power ends.
And I find it relevant. It is not within human power to rise from the grave. And that’s where my faith begins. I believe in what I have not seen, and I can’t tell you exactly why. I can tell you that sometimes I doubt and that I often have internal struggles with what I find to be injustices, inconsistencies, and unrealistic. And yet I believe. Some days I’m Thomas. Some days I’m not. I am not perfect. In fact, I am inherently flawed in the most beautiful way.
What I’ve learned is that sometimes, having a Thomas kind of day can actually really strengthen your faith and give you a renewed perspective. We frown on poor Thomas and his doubting ways, but we are all Thomas at times. And even though we have not seen Christ Jesus or the face of God, we still believe. I have faith in an unfailing love and redemption. I also have doubts, even after immeasurable prayers, weeks of Bible camp, and church sermons galore. And rather than lying to myself, feeling ashamed, and suppressing those doubts, I turn them into opportunities to explore my relationship with Christ. I struggle with not having all the answers, but to this day, I have yet to find myself a non-believer. Every day I learn something new about my faith, and oftentimes, those lessons come from my doubts. So I challenge you to challenge yourself. Challenge your faith and what you think you know. You might learn something new.
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.