Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday at 10:30 am HC, Adam and Lindsey Host a Live Girardian Virtual Bible Study After Sunday Lectionary on the Raven Foundation Facebook page. We invite our listeners to join the conversation with comments and questions. I’m taking a few notes to help me prepare… and share them with you to help you do the same! This is the Girardian Virtual Bible Study Preview!
Okay, I’ll just admit it right away. These words of Jesus to Thomas have, in the past, been among my least favorite in the scriptures.
I grew up anxious – sometimes downright fearful – about matters relating to faith.
As the daughter of an atheist, I grew up knowing that the God that most of my family and friends believed in was rejected by the man I loved the most. And so, before I understood much, I had to ask myself why. I couldn’t take faith in God for granted – ever.
Nevertheless, I wanted to to believe. I’m not just the daughter of an atheist; I am also the daughter of a devout Christian and the granddaughter of two former ministers. I grew up going to church and listening to stories about the Creator of heaven and earth who became human, healed the sick, embraced the poor and the lame, raised the dead and loved them. small children. I wanted to know that this God was, is, real. I wanted to embrace this God with all my heart. But if I did, I was afraid I would leave my father behind.
And I quickly understood the reasons why he was rejecting the faith. The Bible told me that the same God who healed the sick and kissed the poor also wiped out the whole world in a flood. (I’m not sure if I’ve ever thought of Noah’s ark story as a story of cute animals. I mean, maybe two of all kinds got on the boat, but the rest deceased. With most people in the world!) The same scripture that spoke of a God of freedom also spoke of angels killing the firstborn. I may not have felt much for the soldiers who drove out the Israelites as they fled Egypt (okay, actually, I made feel for them, because they are also people.) But I certainly felt for their poor horses that would have been swallowed up in the Red Sea. And on top of all that, I thought I was meant to believe that God, in human form, died for our sins so that we could live because the penalty of sin and unbelief is death … and the hell. I couldn’t understand this morally or intellectually.
But so many people I loved seemed able to embrace God, without fear and without a feeling of superiority over others who might have taken different paths. There was a disconnect between the scripture I was trying to understand and (1) a lectionary that seemed to leave out the more horrific aspects, but more importantly (2) the friends and family members who attributed their understanding of love and compassion for their faith in Jesus. I recognized that they had found a way to love God without embracing the exclusion and damnation towards others that the Bible seemed to suggest.
If my doubts and spiritual struggles had only been the product of fear, I probably would have given up on the journey to find faith years ago. Fear was certainly mixed in, but there was also longing and longing, a burning desire to understand and believe in a God who would love and embrace not only me, but also my father and all who struggled with doubt. or completely abandoned the faith. with a “No! »Firm and emphatic to violence, exclusion and damnation.
Now I understand that Jesus is The no ! From God to violence, exclusion and damnation.
But it took me a journey through doubts and fears and questions to get here, and there are often times when I still have questions and doubts.
I heard Jesus’ words to Thomas as a child and tried to suppress my questions and doubts. I wanted to be part of the “in” club that was “blessed” with a faith beyond sight, beyond proof. I imagined others hearing these words and feeling a sense of superiority over those who doubt the resurrection. I imagined that if they really knew all the questions in my heart and mind, they would realize that I did not belong to them. I was afraid of being looked down upon. I knew if anyone was a ‘doubting Thomas’ it was me. I feared that I would not be blessed.
But here’s the thing: Jesus appeared to all the disciples because he knew they needed to see him. It is unfortunate that the gospel seems to set Thomas apart, for everyone had fears and doubts… so much so that they all (except Thomas) huddled in a small room away from the crowds. (Why was Thomas not there? Was he less afraid than the others? Did he really have a faith and hope that he could not recognize or name?) Jesus did not distinguish those who did not were not blessed by those who were. He blesses instead everyonewith love and forgiveness.
It goes back to spectacle we all justify love and life over hate and death. Because he knows you have to see to really believe. We are meant to learn from what we can see, touch, taste, smell and hear. We are sensory, embodied beings. God loved us so much to live among us and share our human nature because that is what we needed to see, know and understand the fullness of Love. I don’t believe Jesus ever chastises or blames those who have to see to believe.
Why, then, does he say, “Happy are those who have not seen and have come to believe?”
Because there is a blessing, indeed, in faith beyond what the eyes can see. There is a blessing in the hope for what is yet to come.
The truth is, the only extent to which we now see the Risen Lord is the extent to which we embody Love for one another.
We still live in a world of heartbreak and sorrow. We still live in a world of fanaticism and hatred. We still live in a world of violence and revenge. The kingdom of God has not fully come on earth as it is in heaven.
To believe that there is life for this fragile and delicate world, that those who are crushed by the forces of hatred, apathy and death can still be embraced by love even when they are not breathe more and their hearts stop beating, that a world that is dying of climate change can become new… it requires faith that there is a power stronger than human destruction.
Not everyone calls this power “God”. I don’t think that’s the point. I think it’s about living beyond the nihilism of resignation; persist, knowing that “better” is possible and that we can be a part of it. I think the point is to recognize the humanity in every living person even when they are so clouded by fears and prejudices; know that there is still a heart of love beyond hate. I think the point is to recognize that there is hope for the world if we recognize that we are all part of each other, and if we live our lives not against each other, but with each other. for others and the home we all share. I call this driving force, this persistence in the face of all the dangers and negativities of the world, this embrace of one another to find our true fullness and restore the world we share… I call that God.
The persistence in living and struggling in a world where bigotry, fear and danger might otherwise hold us back – this persistence demands minds that question and seek answers. It takes a curiosity and a skepticism that tests everything. It requires going beyond the comfort of the familiar, which so often prevents us from knowing each other. It requires doubt. Thank God for Thomas and the scientific mind that seeks empirical knowledge! Without this doubt and this need to question, we would not be able to learn and move forward, intellectually or spiritually.
Doubt goes hand in hand with faith in what is yet to come. He is the companion and not the enemy of faith.
Do you have questions or doubts? You are far from being alone! A Girardian reading of the scriptures can help us understand how doubt and questioning can stem the tide of negative contagions that arise when people are too willing to believe the worst of others and of others. My personal journey would not have gone so far without my doubts. How has doubt worked hand in hand with your faith?
One thing I never doubt, however, is the fact that we have so much to learn from each other! So please join Adam and I for the Girardian Virtual Bible Study on the Raven FB page tomorrow (4/24) at 10:30 am CT.
Whether you are a pastor preparing your Sunday sermon or a layman trying to understand the Bible better, no matter what you believe, doubt, or doubt, we warmly invite you to participate with comments and questions as we seek to expand our virtual community. Your presence is more than an honor and a blessing – it is a necessity! Since we are interdividual beings, growing in relation to one another, we need each other! Your participation is an integral part of Girard’s virtual Bible study!