Let’s recall Thomas the twin for a moment. More likely he will be better known to you by the unfortunate name “Doubting Thomas” because of the story found in John 20. The risen Jesus appears to the other disciples in a locked room while Thomas is away. When the disciples tell him what happened he says he won’t believe until he sees the scars on Jesus’ hands and puts his hand in Jesus’ side. The next Sunday evening Jesus appears to the disciples again, this time with Thomas present, and invites Thomas to experience Jesus just as he requested. Then Jesus says to him, “Do not doubt, but believe!”

    The thing is, I’m not so sure doubting is the best descriptor for Thomas, especially as it is often used pejoratively. Indeed, Thomas isn’t asking for anything more than the other disciples in the story have received: a personal experience of the risen Jesus.

    If we were to put a more positive ‘spin’ on the word “doubting” in Church, perhaps I would feel better about using it. Until we reclaim that, however, I would prefer to call him “Inquiring Thomas.”

    Here’s why: It is Thomas’ inquiry that leads him to grow. In fact, another time Thomas speaks in the gospels he asks the question: “Lord, how can we know the way?” To which Jesus responds, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” It is Thomas’ questions that both move the story along and help him and us see a little more about who Jesus is.

    It is our questions, often our deepest and biggest (and maybe most scandalous?) questions, which when we ask and explore and challenge and research and ask again, that cause us to grow in faith. They inspire us to learn more and in our learning, we ask deeper and bigger (and maybe more scandalous?) questions.

    Or to put it another way, if we don’t have any questions, if we assume that we have it all figured out, we have no room to grow.

    This summer in late June and early July our worship series will be centered around big questions of faith. Sometimes these questions have straightforward answers: “How did we get the Bible we have?” There was a process that spanned centuries. But questions like “What kind of book is the Bible?” and “How do we know the Bible is true?” Are questions that invite us to dig a little deeper, and might not even have just one answer.

    Our “Big Questions” series will help us explore questions around the character of God, baptism, the Bible, prayer, and heaven and hell. I am looking forward to exploring these questions with you this summer!


Pastor Owen