Here we get our first glimpse of the disciples gathered together after the resurrection. All in all, not a very pretty picture. Near the end of his life, Jesus had carefully prepared his disciples to be a devoted and confident fellowship of faith. They were to be a community of love whose doors were always open and the welcome mat always out, but here we find them barricaded in a house with the doors bolted shut. If this little sealed off group of Christians were to run an ad in the religion section of the Saturday paper, what would they say? The church with a warm heart and a bold mission? More like the church with sweaty palms and a timid spirit.
Indeed, we get a glimpse of a church with nothing. No plan, no promise, no program, no perky youth minister, no powerful preaching, not even a parking lot. When all is said and done, this little church had nothing going for it—except the risen Christ.
They were afraid. Hiding behind locked doors. Thomas gets the bad rap, but I’d be willing to wager that all of them were filled with doubt. Hardly a group capable of beginning a movement that would transform human history. A scared, doubtful band hiding with a chair propped up against the door.
We don’t like to talk about doubt in our faith communities, but we SHOULD be talking about it. It’s okay to doubt (says the owner of Doubting Believer).
There as many reasons that people doubt as there are people:
Maybe you prayed for something and God didn’t seem to come through for your
Maybe you struggle with inconsistencies in the scriptures
Maybe people who claim the faith have tested yours
Maybe you or someone you love have lived through a tragedy that you cannot reconcile with a loving God
Maybe you just aren’t “feeling” it.
It is okay to have doubts. We are all going to have them from time to time. And the scriptures assure us that we are in good company when we do.
So know that this is a safe place to be doubtful. It’s okay to question your faith. It’s okay to doubt God. It’s even okay to have doubts about this whole resurrection/new life thing.
It’s okay. Really, it is.
But you need to understand that the story of Doubting Thomas is really a cautionary tale. Because Jesus isn’t going to wait on you to get over your doubts to come in to your life.
Jesus didn’t wait on the disciples to believe. He didn’t even wait on them to open the door. He broke down the door. Jesus didn’t wait for the disciples to figure out they didn’t need afraid. Jesus didn’t wait for Thomas to work through his doubts. He didn’t wait for any of them to do anything different or to be anyone different. He showed up. And loved them. That’s what he did then. That’s what he does now.
Yes, he came and met the disciples—even the biggest doubter of all—right where they were. And yes, he loved them just the way they were, but he didn’t leave them that way. He told them, as the father has sent me, so I send you. He gave them a mission. He called them to service.
And it wasn’t until they tried to live out that mission and ministry as the Lord commanded that they truly realized the gifts that they had been given. Jesus intrudes in our lives by calling us to be more than we are so that we can be all that God intends for us.
So when Christ breaks down whatever doors, whatever doubts we’ve put up, it can be an intrusion in our lives. It means that we can’t stay as we are—and that is always disruptive. It might just mean that we have to start radically living out just what it is we believe.
Jesus continues to break into our lives—even to the Thomas’s among us. And truth be told, we all have at least a little—if not a lot—of Thomas in us.
It’s Easter and Jesus is on the loose! Finding us, loving us, invading our space and intruding on our lives.
Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.