Our moments of unbelief make epiphany possible | Worship

By Pastor Arhiana Shek | May 17, 2017

Many people, including Christians and non-Christians, may recognize the biblical story about “doubting” Thomas.

After Jesus rises from the dead, Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples, says, “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.”

For centuries, Thomas has gotten a bad rap, and has been regarded as skeptical for refusing to believe the resurrection after seeing his Lord crucified. I don’t blame him; after all, the dead usually stay dead. Perhaps this story addresses something more than just someone’s doubt. In fact, Thomas is not the only one who refuses to believe the impossible.

According to John 20 beginning on verse 19, Jesus appears first to the rest of his followers, who also need proof that Jesus has resurrected. While locked in a room, Jesus stands in front of them and says, “Peace be with you.” It was not until he showed them his hands and his side that they believed and rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

The truth of Jesus’ resurrection, even today, has the potential to shake everyone’s preconceptions about life and death, what is and what is not possible, therefore making it difficult to believe and hope that Jesus is alive.

Before they can see, the disciples and Thomas have a close encounter with the risen Lord, and then rejoice. Even us today, before we can come to believe in the risen Lord, need to have our own moment of “seeing,” and then rejoice. We may not acknowledge this truth, since many Christians have been told to believe and have faith.

This might be the case for some of us, but what about the rest of us – the rest of us who may feel uneasy, overwhelmed by death, loss and despair occurring in our own lives and all around the world where unbelief is a more appropriate response.

Maybe Thomas’ refusal to believe gives us permission to also have our moments of unbelief, and make room for others wrestling with unbelief, before our eyes can see life.

The theologian Paul Tillich said, “Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.” I believe faith and doubt are part of the tension of the Christian journey.

Many of us at different points in our lives – after the loss of a job, loss of a significant other, or any other type of loss – may have faced unbelief. In these desperate moments, we rejoice, because it is exactly there where the risen Christ meets us.

In these moments of unbelief, Christ promises peace, life and joy.

 

Arhiana Shek is a mission developer and pastor at Faith Lutheran Church, a Lutheran church serving Latinos of Snohomish County. The church is at 6708 Cady Road in Everett.

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