We are living in a time of uncertainty, with lots and lots of what have been dubbed, “alternative facts.” If you listen, watch or read a variety of news/information sources, its understandable how confused you could become. Everyone seems to have a different take on each and every important event which surfaces.

How are we ever going to get down to knowing and believing what’s really true? So much doubt has crept into our everyday living, its difficult at best to decipher the real, honest-to-goodness, truth.

This week is the traditional time for us to read and reflect on that passage of scripture we all commonly refer to as the “doubting Thomas” text. We find it in John 20:24-29…

“24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin[a]), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

We have made doubt out to be a negative thing in this context. Many would like to castigate Thomas for his unbelief. Its the last line from this text which makes Thomas seem so faithless…”Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” It can sound very much like a rebuke from Jesus to Thomas.

I happen to believe a healthy dose of doubt is not only good, but necessary in our lives today. We do get reports from all different kinds of sources, some legitimate, some, not so much. So many take at face value whatever is presented to them. Not questioning the sources, or the validity of those sources. After all, if I read it on the internet, it must be true. Right?

There is an overwhelming amount of misleading material floating around us, whether it is intentional or not. Its almost debilitating when we consider this. Can we really believe anything, any more?

So, doubt has a critical part to play in our lives. We must question, we must critique, we must dig into the layers upon layers of conflicting and confusing material presented to us as truth, reality, fact.

If we need to have a healthy dose of doubt today, why would we not think it was a good thing for Thomas? He was there when Jesus was arrested. He was there when Pilate brought him out before the people, beaten and bloodied. He was surely there when Jesus drug his cross up to Golgotha. He may not have been at the foot of the cross, but I’m almost certain he could see it and Jesus. He would have known Jesus had been taken off the cross and buried in a tomb. Now, you’re asking him to believe some different reports that Jesus was alive?

Thomas doubted, and that was a good thing for him. He wasn’t going to go off someone else’s version of events, he needed to verify it for himself.

We are asked to believe some things in order to shape our perceptions and impressions of others. This has the effect of aligning people for or against a particular group. Have we not considered every person on the face of the earth is a child of God? Have we forgotten the immigrants at our borders seeking a better life have the breath of God in them? Have we forgotten those who we conveniently overlook, cast aside, marginalize, avoid, take little or no notice of, all are created in the image of the God who loves us?

Doubting what is said about those who belong to God, is not only healthy, but imperative. When someone tells us how awful another is, do we take that at face value, or do we give that person fair consideration in our experience of them? Doubting can lead us to discover a very deep and abiding truth. People are people. People want to live, breathe, be provided opportunities, be treated with respect and dignity. All people want the same things.

In my little condo/townhome community we have young people, old people, white people, black people, brown people, yellow people. Christian, Hindu, Muslim, maybe even non-believers. I’ve noticed we all want the same things. We want our homes to be safe and secure. We want to be respected. We want to live free of condemnation. We want to express ourselves in ways which are particular to each of us.

A considerable amount of doubt arises in me when I’m told adverse things about others based on what religion they practice, what color they are, who they love, what nationality they are, or where they come from, or what they believe or espouse. Doubt causes me to get to know people for who they are. And I remind myself of whose they are.

Jesus understood the doubt Thomas expressed, and did what was necessary for Thomas to believe. He offered him the opportunity to see and experience for himself and to discover the truth, Jesus was real. Doubt made for an even stronger faith in Thomas on that day.

Loving God, let each of us express our doubts when it seems the world wants us to hate rather than love. Let us have doubts about what we are told concerning our neighbors, when we’ve been told they are less than, or unworthy. Help us to seek you in all people, and help us come to believe in your presence in all.

Your companion on The Way,

Pastor Tom

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