Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s reading is from John 20:28-29, where the Bible reports this interaction between the risen Lord Jesus and his disciple Thomas:
Thomas said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
BELIEVING IS TRULY SEEING!
Is seeing believing? Or are there things that are very real, even very true, that we cannot see with our eyes? Our garage doors open by unseen forces at the touch of a button. We put our food and drinks into little rectangular devices and hit the button believing that, absent a heating element or a flame of any sort, microwaves will make our food or beverages piping hot. Even the most empirical of scientists has things which he/she believes long before they are tested or visible to human eyes. One could make the case that observable science, the very scientific method we cherish today, was based on a belief that God had created and ordered the world in such a way that it could be tested, and its laws could be counted on. You might say that even the empirical scientist has to believe in certain things before he/she could really see them.
Faith in God is a bit like that. It’s not that faith in God is totally absent of data or information. But there are aspects to faith that are beyond our control. We are the creature; He is the creator. He is the Redeemer; we are the redeemed. Yet faith in the God of the Bible is not merely an academic exercise. Faith begins to help us see the big picture of our lives here, and our lives eternally. In a paper delivered at the Oxford Socratic Club, C.S. Lewis remarked: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” The Founding Fathers of America believed in liberty because they believed that God had created humanity for such a life. With that faith, they began to structure a government that would honor such freedom. In many of the fundamental questions of life, “Believing is seeing!”
The tension between “seeing is believing” and “believing is seeing” permeates our lesson for today. The text is about “Doubting Thomas” finally seeing Jesus as his living Savior. But it took the risen Jesus presenting the very wounds of His crucifixion in order to engender such faith. But who was this Thomas character? What was he really like? Was he the skeptic that many claim him to be? Was he the pessimist? The doubter? Well, if he was, he was also tough, tenacious, and no wilting violet. When Jesus was going to journey into dangerous territory, Thomas didn’t shrink back. Instead, he declared, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). But it’s also true that he was confused and distraught over Jesus’ crucifixion. If someone tried to console him by claiming that Jesus didn’t really die, he wasn’t going to have any of that. He saw it, he felt it, He was overwhelmed by it, and no amount of wishful thinking would change that.
What he forgot was that the “believing is seeing” attitude of the Christian doesn’t work because of our inherent power or our wishful thinking. It works because God’s promises are always true. God’s promises always come to fruition. YES, in His time and in His way, but they always come true because He is trustworthy and true.
Maybe Thomas did you and me a favor. He wasn’t going to let our wishful thinking be the foundation of faith. He wanted the fulfilled Word of Christ to be evident for all to see, even if he had to look a bit foolish for that to happen. In this Easter season, take a step back from the cultural craziness of our world, the rat race of your job, and your desires to make life what you wish it to be. Then try to see the big picture of your life with God in Christ. Because He has risen, your life is redeemed, it is eternal, and it also has purpose now. If your life doesn’t look like that at the moment, why not take Christ’s word for it first and foremost? Begin to live in that resurrection reality, that eternal blessing right here and now. Then put the power of “seeing is believing” to work by reading and trusting in the Word of Jesus, the resurrected one who did all of this for people like Doubting Thomas, and for people like you and me.
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, teach us to see the depth of Your mercy for us, so that we might live faithful lives of grace and mercy to others. AMEN.