This Past Sunday I was granted the Wonderful opportunity of Preaching at Old West United Methodist Church. I wanted to share my sermon. The written words may not be exactly what I said, but it is pretty close to it.
Growing up in the Church, hearing the story of Thomas was a pretty common occurrence, especially on the Sunday after Easter. Thank you revised common Lectionary.
I’ve always heard sermons about how Thomas’s doubting gives us permission to doubt. That Doubting is okay because it helps us grow in our faith. Without doubt, our faith is blind and has not stood the test of time. Doubt gives our faith the roots it needs to weather the storms of life. Doubt can absolutely be a good thing! Questioning our faith allows us to consider why we believe what we believe. It gives us space to work through issues, to talk to God and figure our hearts out.
Belief is hard, especially in this day in age where everything and everyone seems to be against the church.
Jesus said, blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. Well bro, sometimes that’s a struggle. The world is against us Jesus knew that. John 15: 18 “18 “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If you belonged to the world,[a] the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you.”
I mean let’s be real, this whole story, from crucifixion to resurrection to the promise of life ever lasting! It sounds way too good to be true, and that is most certainly what Thomas was thinking. Nuh uh he’s not back, he can’t be, that’s never happened before. No wonder Thomas couldn’t wrap his head around it. Not only was there the stress of Jesus potentially popping in or not, there was the stress of literally everyone else hating them. The Romans were convinced they would start an uprising. The High Priests hated Jesus with a Passion and by extension his followers…So Basically the disciples had each other, and they were terrified. I mean I would be too if my rabbi had just been brutally and publically executed and then I was left all alone….BUT JESUS CAME BACK!
The disciples probably had a conversation with Thomas that went something like this.
OH BRO YOU should have BEEN here! It was crazy we were just chilling in here talking about what to do now and like all the doors were locked cause you know everyone hates us, AND THEN JESUS SHOWED UP! Like poof, there he was in the room with us! Peter tell him what happened. Thomas was like Nah guys stop pulling my leg, until I touch the wounds in his hand, I don’t buy it. Then BAM Jesus was all, oh Bro, touch em’ and believe.
Thomas probably about near collapsed on the ground, and I would have too.
Thomas teaches us that a little bit of Doubt helps us find true meaning in our faith. Doubt also prepares us for the out side world.
Through out high school, people knew that I was a Christian, but I did not make a big deal of it. I was involved in Conference youth or CCYM, but I tried to keep that on the DL. There was a radical Baptist girl in my high school that everyone hated. She was anti-gay, she was anti-everything really. She would pull people aside, particularly in our drama club, and have “chats” with them, essentially telling them that they were going to hell and because she was our friend she needed to help us, not go to hell. She would write letters to us naming our sins Out of concern for our soul’s well being.
She was abrasive, often rude, superior, and over all obnoxious. Unfortunately she was the definition of Christian that all my peers held, and why I tried to hide Much like the disciples, in a room, with the doors locked. I wanted to stay as far away from that conception of Christianity as possible, after all I didn’t want people to hate me the way they hater her!
In hindsight this was pretty shallow of me, and however misguided, her intentions were sincere and honest. And maybe she was okay with the world hating her.
When we doubt, we often seek answers. It is that act of seeking answers that gives value to our questions. In this world, both in the time of the disciples and in today’s world, we as followers of Christ are going to encounter haters. Haters gonna hate. People are going to find it weird that we spend Sunday mornings, or Thursday nights worshiping a God that they can not see. People will question us and our beliefs. They will question our world view, and they are going to expect us to have answers. How on earth can we expect to have answers if we ourselves have never asked those questions?
Doubting gives us a place to have meaningful conversations with people who might not ordinarily ever talk about Christ in their lives.
Clearly Thomas’s doubt was understandable, as is our own. Jesus warned us that the world will be against us. Doubt is not the antitheses of belief. Questions lead to seeking answers. I have found in my life, the more I seek answers, the more I am led to follow God. I might not find the answers that I think I will, but my soul finds what it needs.
Jesus came back to ease our doubting and troubled hearts. God sent the Holy Spirit to help us search, and seek. The more we seek, the more questions, but the greater the longing to be close to Lord.
As Taylor Swift sings, Haters gonna hate hate hate, but I’m just gonna shake shake shake it off. Jesus’ resurrection gives us that strength and that confidence to shake it off. Thomas shows us that being human and having questions is most certainly okay. Jesus teaches us that there is faith to be had after the questions are asked. If it were easy, they wouldn’t call it faith.
Our job is to be rooted in our faith so that when people come asking questions, we do not let their unbelief deter our belief. We can be gracious, and loving, and open our hearts to them, but ultimately any negativity from the world against us, we just have to shake it off.