Seeing is Beleiving

April 23, 2017

Summary

How often have you heard someone say, or have you yourself used one of these following phrases. “I can’t believe it!” “Show me.” “I am standing here in utter disbelief at what I just witnessed.” “Prove it to me.” “I can’t believe my eyes!”
You know the old saying, “Seeing is believing.” Well I think rather than old, this saying must be ancient. For I wonder if the author of this proverb might not have been Thomas, the disciple whom was called ‘The Twin.’ For this is virtually what he said to his friends when they told him that Jesus had appeared in their midst, alive.
Belief is a hard thing. It seems as if we are not hard-wired to easily believe. Rather we want things proven to us, and even then how often do we say, “I don’t believe it.”
I am sure, that even Thomas’ friends and fellow disciples must have stood there in disbelief when Jesus appeared amongst them, and shared with them his peace. They were still reeling from the news that Mary Magdalene had brought back earlier that day from the garden of the tomb. Remember, in the gospel of John, up to this point Mary is the only person to have encountered Jesus so far, he having told her to go back and tell everyone that he had risen. But of course, as I have already set forth, believing without seeing can be pretty hard. So Jesus’ followers must have been wrestling with Mary’s news all day wondering if it was really true, and if it was, what would happen next?
And then, there he was, standing with them showing his wounds as proof to them of his resurrected reality.
Like the disciples at that moment, we stand in the bright sun of the resurrection feeling its heat, but hesitant to believe that its light by which we see, is real. We believe and yet hope for further proofs to confirm that same belief. And unlike Thomas, and Christ’s other followers we will not get to touch the holes in his palms, or put our hand in the wound in his side. No, rather we must simply believe, and then confirm our belief by stepping forward in our faith.
Yet Jesus even on the day he appeared to Thomas was thinking of us, when he said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jesus was readying his disciples, almost from the moment that he saw them again after his resurrection, for his impending departure. For they still did not understand that he would not walk with them as before. His followers, and all others who would come to believe, would need to walk not by sight, but rather by faith.
And as we can see from the verses in First Peter, in which Peter is praising the faithful for their belief, he has learned this lesson well. “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Really, what we learn from todays scripture is, well to coin a new phrase, “Believing is life.”
Our belief, which begins by hearing the stories of Jesus love, compassion and forgiveness for humanity, grows into faith when it is coupled with knowing that God is still present in our midst and in our lives as the Holy Spirit. You see, we too often forget about Christ’s promise to always be with us. In this morning’s gospel from John, when Jesus appears in the disciples midst, what does he do, but breathes into them the Holy Spirit. When Jesus ascended to heaven, God did not leave us, we are not left alone, to make our own way, but rather God, the Holy Spirit is with us day-to-day, wanting to lead and guide us, and fill us with God’s love, forgiveness and hope. The Holy Spirit strengthens our belief, thus invigorating our faith and so, we can live each day in the newness of life that is life with God.
To experience this new life we want to daily seek the Holy Spirit’s movement and guidance in our lives, but too often this seeking is viewed as a challenge, rather than as a gift of opportunity.
I know that I can get stuck in the daily grind, just trying to get things done, so that I can move onto the next day. It is a hard reality to face, that my life has simply become doing, rather than being. Have you ever heard the phrase, “You’re not a human doing, but a human being?”
Well, that’s the sort of start we need to bring about a change of approach to opening our lives daily to God’s place in our lives, but let’s not stop there. Let me coin another new phrase this morning, “We are not here on earth just to be, but to believe.”
Belief is not a static state, but rather one of movement and growth. All we have to do is look at the lives of Christ’s disciples to see that they grew in their belief and so, their faith from their first encounters with Jesus, all the way through to their deaths. And so it should be with us too.
But we only grow, when we are seeking out greater relationship, understanding and participation in our faith with God. Just like the disciples were continually listening, observing and asking questions of Jesus, even to the point of doubting at times, like Thomas this morning, we need to be doing the same in our relationships with God.
We need to constantly ask God questions like, “What are you teaching me in this experience? How can I show your love today? How do you want me to use my natural gifts? How do I share all that you have given me? What is my purpose today?”
And God also wants to hear our uncertainties, our anger, our doubt, our sadness and our pain, as well as our joys, our thanksgivings, our hopes and our happiness.
I guess what I am trying to get at this morning, is this; God is with us, helping us to believe, to grow in our faith, and is giving us new life right now, as well as for eternity. And God wants us to live out our new life, our new way of seeing, our new way of relating to the people around us today, and everyday. Now he knows we’re going to be inconsistent, just like Thomas, Peter, and all the others who followed him throughout the gospels, but that does not mean he wants us to be ashamed and turn away. Rather he wants us to turn to him in our times of need, as well as joy and thus grow in our relationship with God, and thus strengthen our faith.
There is not one relationship in the world, that has grown stronger by being ignored, and our relationship with God, our belief in God works the same way. We have to relate to him, each day, we have to live with him each day, and as we do we will learn that we truly do, have new life, life that fills us and overflows into our other relationships because we believe the God is loving, and only wants the best for us.
Go to God each day, and move beyond simply doing, or even being, but actively live by believing, for belief is life.
Amen.

Bible References

  • 1 Peter 1:3 - 9
  • John 20:19 - 31

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