Eric's Sunday Sermon for Doubting Thomas's -- Agnostics
This photo depicts an ascension of Christ after coming down to give proof.
There was a man named Thomas who was Agnostic and a Disciple of Christ
To my knowledge there is no book of Thomas in any version of the Bible.(today I do not refer to the Book of Thomas discovered in Egypt in 1945 -another day perhaps) But Thomas is a key figure in allowing true free will. And he also teaches us love, community and that doubt is just fine and dandy. Thomas was an agnostic. Doubting Thomas should be a revered term. Agnostics should be part of any good group of disciples.
These are strong statements. These probably inflame many Religious Christians. Well I mean to "stir it up" here so we examine our own faith. I will leave this hub without quotations from the Bible. Because this is for advanced Agnostics and mature Christians and mature atheists, all of whom I assume are familiar with the Bible. And I am not a Bible literalist.
Dad was raised Jesuit. I have his first Bible. 1907 Latin Vulgate version. Printed on a machine and not electronically. Perhaps it is wrong to love a thing. But I love that Bible. But to the point, dad questioned God everyday. Good for him and very good for me. Dad became a medical physician of renown and I became a lawyer of not so much renown. I hand down to my children to question everyday. I figure that is a good thing. Jesus told Thomas he was nuts but OK.
If you are a Christian
Do you ever have doubts
Thomas Loved Jesus
Thomas gave up all he had and followed Jesus around for about 3 years. He listened to His sermons. He served him as a disciple. He took the order to go out into the world with nothing and spread the good news in a land that was often hostile and would stone to death anyone that they considered blasphemous --- and to many Jews what Jesus taught was blasphemous as evidenced by His crucifixion. He hung out with Jesus in the wilderness, even on journeys to foreign places. And he rode in a boat during a tempest with the other disciples as Jesus ordered them to sea. He was with Jesus in Gethsemane and in HIs own hometown as he was about to be stoned. Now that my friends is love. That is loyalty.
So cool he still questioned Jesus on his return. Crazy. And yet I just love that St. Thomas. Maybe he got murdered in India. But probably lived near on 100 years. I reckon God kept him around until he "got it". Don't know.
And yet he needed physical tangible truth that Christ had risen from the grave.
Thomas stayed with the community that loved Jesus even after crucifixion
The Jews were out for more blood, but Thomas hung in there.
These disciples were "wanted" men. As we know from Peter's three denials the disciples were in fear for their own lives. As the beautiful song above relates they were hiding and just waiting for soldiers to come get them and crucify them also. Thomas apparently would go out from time to time but was with the group. He easily could have headed for the hills or to some small town and fade into his old life. But he did not. Again we know that even John had doubts, even after Christ told Him that He would rise again. And yet he also stayed with the crew.
I am a happy coward. Hey I made it these 60+ years. I would not be as brave as "doubting" Thomas. Just imagine the faith it takes to doubt and yet stay the course and peril of life. I respect folks who doubt. This morning I doubted my resilience and strength. Fine! A Willow tree bends in the wind yet it's roots hold it up and what better root than Jesus.
My Rabbis Buddha and Dalai Lama seem to think Jesus is the Son of God. Why not? Notice we use current here as souls never die. As love never die. Thomas fully loved Jesus yet doubted. Sometimes my wife doubts me, but never does not love me.
This is my favorite Cross, my daughter bought if for me after we watched the Mexican wood worker make it.
Doubt is a healthy good thing
I asked a congregation once if anyone there ever had doubts. Only two hands went up. The whole congregation stood in denial. Even the priest did not raise his hand, nor the deacon, nor the converted Buddhists. Only my hand went up and a beautiful little 8 year old girl. Yet that whole congregation took communion. How could that be. Christ knows what is in our hearts, why do we feel ashamed to admit doubt in front of other Christians. Peter confessed his doubt and asked forgiveness and to be stronger. Even Paul when writing about the thorn in his side that God would not remove - suggested He had doubts but overcame them to realize the thorn was there to keep him humble.
If you really truly stand before God and tell God that you never have any doubt, God knows you are a liar or you puff your self up into delusion that you are better than the original disciples and apostles. Overcoming doubt is a strengthening over spirit within you and faith and belief. With no doubts ever you deny the gift that God has given us of free will. It means that you do not Love the Lord by your choice but as an automaton robot, and that is not who we are made to be..
Here is the last supper when Jesus said one would betray, and they all doubted themselves if just for a second
Throughout His earthly ministry the disciples displayed many instances of doubt.
The Tempest, the feeding of the 5,000 the worries expressed, the request to say goodbye before following -- all instances of doubt. And yet Jesus loved them and Loves them. So we just in general see that doubting begets learning and strengthening. And when we overcome it brings stronger faith and belief and love.
I will explain to my 9 year old the Apollo 11 mission today and note that we actually watched it on a TV that was only black and white and that they nearly burned up on re-entry. You will doubt so I will whip out a book from my shelf. Maybe today we talk about Thomas and I whip out my daddy's book of the Bible.
Jesus Love Agnostics and if we ask will give us proof
So we come to Doubting Thomas. The greatest doubt of all times. There Jesus appears through walls and is standing there talking to the disciples after He has been crucified and buried. It has already been related to Thomas by his pards that Jesus is Alive and has risen. He apparently calls His disciples by name and some are at his perhaps kissing them and the wounds in his hands and feet are visible. And there stands our great Thomas admitting to all that he still doubts. How amazing, how Agnostic!!!. How wonderfully honest.
So he asks or demands of Christ that he will not believe until he touches, seeing is not even enough, the wounds. And Jesus just steps right up and allows him to have his proof.
We do not even get the sense Jesus is insulted. Jesus just reminds us that those of us who do not need to see and touch are very blessed. And what I think He means by that that we are not tortured by extreme doubt and that we can overcome it by faith while others need some empirical truth and so they struggle much more than us who do not need it.
Even perhaps those with strong doubt are even more worthy than those of us to whom it comes easily, for those that overcome much receive much.
Our doubts are not usually so dramatic.
Sometimes doubts are about us. "I doubt that I can do something". It may be just that one millisecond of hesitation. I can tell you this --- if you take to exceptional and equal athletes and pit them against each other. No matter the competition. The one with less self doubt will always win. So we can see in near clinical settings that doubt is a game changer. Doubt will create an environment where failure is more likely.
So we look at doubt and say "how can we avoid it?". Believe it or not that is very easy. You simply walk through it, talk through it and act through it. You remove the doubt. I think it was Ted Williams who said "a batting slump is only a confidence slump". And I believe this concept has helped coaches immensely. Here is the trick. Convince the athlete what they are doing wrong. Then fix it. There is a good chance they are doing nothing wrong. So make it up. When the apparent problem is fixed the athlete gets the confidence back. And wha lah.
Same happens with faith. Just think about that whole Catholic deal with saying Hail Mary's, and confessions. Go do it to correct yourself and boom ba da bing you are back on your game.
No go get rid of doubt - Now!!