Wednesday, April 15, 2009
THIS is the church?
The poor guy has such a bad reputation all from this one story (John 20:19-31). I feel bad for him. I relate to him. I'm 99.9% sure I wouldn't have been able to believe, either, if I had walked in to hear that story like he did.
What's sticking out to me right now, though, in this story is not so much the doubt or the unbelief or the belief, in the end. It's the nature of the community in which Thomas doubts. He wasn't there when they all first gathered. He showed up late and missed the revelation the rest of them had. He even essentially dismisses their testimony by saying he won't believe it until he sees it himself. Doesn't really sound like a way to win friends and influence people, I'd say.
But a week later there he still is. They're back in the house. They're still gathered. They're still scared behind locked doors, but this time Thomas is still with them. I don't know. That sounds like love to me.
Upon the hint of the folks at this week's Sermon Brainwave, I'm going to go track the responses of several of the disciples and "believers" after the resurrection. My quick re-memory tells me they weren't all uniform. They didn't all react the same way. They didn't all believe to the same degree. But on this group (even on Thomas when he was missing) Jesus breathed his breath and passed on the Spirit. Even to this group was given the power to forgive sins. Even to this group came the peace of Christ. THIS is the church?
Yeah - - this IS the church.
Jesus levels the playing field. His gift of resurrection life doesn't come because we believe enough or react the right way. His gift comes because he chooses to give it that we might believe for the first time and continue to believe through times of faith and doubt, in the Lord who lives among us, Christ who rose from the wounds of death, and lives again forever.
The church isn't a collection of perfect believers. The church is a collection of diverse sinners, but together we have received the Spirit of God, and together we carry his name into the world.