Saturday, April 07, 2012

Jim West: Doubting Thomas and the Ecclesial Context of Faith

Jim West has written an outstanding post on the story of the resurrection appearance to Thomas. I found it so insightful, I just had to reproduce it here:
The day of Jesus resurrection the disciples (except for Thomas, and Judas of course) were gathered in the same location in which they had eaten the ‘Last Supper’ just a few days before. Suddenly the risen Jesus appeared and conversed with them. 
When Thomas next appears he is told what happened and he doesn’t believe it. ‘Unless I see the prints in his hands and push my finger in his side, I won’t believe’. 
The next week the disciples are again gathered in assembly and this time Thomas is present. Jesus chides him for disbelieving the testimony of his compatriots and then challenges him to shove his finger in Jesus’ side. He refuses, and then confesses ‘My Lord and my God’. 
Two simple observations may be worth making: 
1- Thomas doesn’t assemble with the others and from that decision springs his disbelief. 
2- When Thomas gathers with the others he not only meets them but he meets the Risen Jesus. When he does, his doubts dissolve. 
And two applications: 
1- When we absent ourselves from the assembly we run the risk of missing being in the presence of the Lord Christ. 
2- When we do so, we also open ourselves to the possibility of doubt and despair. 
I think it fair to suggest that John (the Gospel-ist who tells us of these events) wants his contemporaries to contemplate the very real possibility that when they ‘forsake the assembly’ they expose themselves to doubt and doubt, when fully formed, is despair. 
Perhaps the author of Hebrews had the same thing in mind when he urged the followers of Jesus not to forsake the assembly as so many, even then, had done. 
Every time you miss worship- you plant the seed of doubt. And every time you plant the seed of doubt, you eventually reap despair.

1 comment:

De Maria said...

The statement which hits home with me in that exchange is this:
John 20:29
29Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Frequently, people are belittled because they have a simple faith which does not question God's love. Those who belittle it call it, blind faith.

Yet, I believe, Jesus here extolls them above those of us to whom His love had to be proved. In my opinion, they are personified by the Elder Brother of the Prodigal:
Luke 15:31
King James Version (KJV)
31And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.


De Maria