Give Thomas a Break!

3315093050_a59a382800_zI mean it.

Let’s cut the poor guy some slack. At least until we take a look in the mirror.

After all, this man, who has been known as “Doubting Thomas” for hundreds of years, was the very person who bowed before Jesus publicly and confessed, “My Lord and my God!” Eventually he gave his life for Christ as a missionary in India.

What have you done lately?

I know, this was only after he had refused to believe that Jesus was really alive three days after his brutal murder. This was only after he had demanded to see the physical proof of Jesus’ resurrection. This was only after Jesus’ had given proof to the other ten disciples while Thomas was out running an errand.

Wait. What?

Yep. John 20 tells this particular story. Jesus had appeared to Mary soon after he came out of the tomb, and she spent the rest of the day trying to convince Peter and the others, who didn’t believe her until Jesus came and showed them his wounds.

Then he told them that they now had the power and authority to offer eternal salvation to anyone who would believe the Gospel of his death and resurrection.

Unfortunately, in God’s timing, Thomas missed it.

Which meant that when he demanded to see the same proof that Jesus had given the other disciples, he wasn’t just trying to be “one of the guys,” he was questioning Christ’s commissioned witnesses of the Gospel.

Which led to Jesus rebuking him for acting like an “unbeliever.”

See, Jesus never intended to appear personally to every single person he would save. He only appeared after his resurrection to a select few whom he commissioned as witnesses and gave them a powerful message called the Gospel. The Gospel, not Jesus’ personal appearance, would now be sufficient to reveal Christ, carry grace, and deliver people into faith.

That’s what Thomas heard and what Thomas doubted. And it’s what professing Christians often doubt still today. Oh, you’ll never hear a true Christian doubt Jesus’ resurrection, but you may hear or see them doubting the Gospel.

Strange, I know, but consider…

Evangelism that puts more emphasis upon getting the right atmosphere, speaker, lighting, music, mood, technique, vocal inflection, and sales technique than it does on getting the right message (Sin? Repentance? What are these?)

Counseling that defers to psychological models with precious little room for a Creator, revealed truth, the corruption of sin, the power of grace, or even the idea of a compassionate Redeemer

Ministry Methods that put a high-dollar value on chasing cultural relevance and producing dazzling displays of human creativity and ingenuity instead of trumpeting the spiritual value of transformed lives

Preaching that pleasures audiences with jokes, erudition, hipster references, moral platitudes, entrepreneurial slogans, or emotional storytelling instead of proclaiming “Christ and him crucified”

Ministry Qualifications that depend more upon Dale Carnegie, Stephen Covey, Seth Godin, Richard Branson, Jim Collins, and Jack Welch than on how well a person knows Christ and the difference he has made

Outreach that eclipses the Gospel by stressing compassionate deeds without the corresponding creeds

Worship that praises God more for material blessings that are limited to the first world than for supernatural blessings that fit us as citizens of another world

It’s easy to do, isn’t it?

So, like I said, before we berate Thomas for doubting the Gospel he would end up spending his life to give, let’s stop and ask if we’ve begun to doubt the Gospel that has given us life.

This post is a condensed version of two posts that appeared on April 8 and April 12, 2013, “Doubting Thomases All,” pts. 1 and 2, respectively. See these posts for further discussion of the above.

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