If I am going to be completely honest then I have to say that I have my doubts about this whole Christianity thing. I am still a Christian and still trust God, but I certainly cannot say that I never doubt it.
My doubts are not found in the trenches of apologetic battles. I figured out a long time ago that many of those fights are more often than not about who, whether Christian or not, can make a more persuasive argument. It’s often style over substance. I certainly have questions about historicity and whether there is a God, but rather my Doubts come from somewhere else.
I once admitted that if I ever turned away from faith, it would be because I had seen that following Jesus made no difference in a person’s life. I see that sometimes out in the world and in myself. I see us acting in ways that drag Jesus through the mud. And I see it enough that I sometimes wonder whether the resurrection ever happened. Maybe Jesus was a great moral teacher and the rest of this Son of God stuff was added on later. I don’t believe that (partly because of the religious education that I have received; the same education that was supposed to torpedo my faith), but I wonder.
What I’m saying is that I can understand Thomas. Or as we often refer to him: last name Thomas, first name Doubting. We put that label on him in a condescending way. We shake our heads and sigh. Doubting Thomas. How could he be so stubborn and blind?
But there was someone who didn’t shake his head: Jesus. He very easily could have told the other disciples to kick him out or have caused Thomas’ head to explode Raiders of the Lost Ark style when the doubter beheld the resurrected Christ. But he didn’t. Jesus met Thomas where he was. Jesus graciously gave Thomas what he needed deep down and the disciple responded with the exclamation, “My Lord and my God.”
I learned this past Sunday that the church lectionary calendar always saves a place for that passage in John on the Sunday after Easter. After the majesty and wonder that is Easter Sunday, those that return the next week are allowed to and given the official space in which to wrestle with doubt.
That is not something that I heard in church growing up. Doubt was something from which to flee. It was either not talked about or it was the sad sign of a backslidden individual.
Yet in an excellent sermon by Dean, one of our pastors, I was reminded again that doubt is not the opposite of faith. Indeed doubt can be the seeds for faith, it can walk alongside it. Faith is not some sort of intellectual assent as much as it is trust in God even when there is doubt. For if faith was something of which we are absolutely certain, if it was the impenetrable logical fortress that some make it out to be, then it would not be faith. Faith requires a leap. I trust Grace is there to grab my hand on the other side.
I will continue to raise questions and think critically about faith. And since Jesus says we should love God with our minds, I think he is okay with me continuing to do that. That’s the thing: I trust Jesus. There are many things of which I am not sure. Yet as I have grown older, my faith has moved away from a house of cards model. The whole thing will not collapse if one element gets taken away. Though I have my doubts, my hope is built on Jesus.
I am beyond grateful that he has room for doubters like Thomas and me.