Can you imagine how whiney and complaining Thomas must have been during that time? He must have been a complete pain in the neck to the other disciples.
But what happened to Thomas is what happens to all of us now and then, especially in church. Sometimes in the process of growth; spiritual, physical, emotional, we can sense things happening… and for many it is fantastic and exciting and the focus is all on the positive. But for some, this kind of growth, (even if they know it's a great thing)- brings feelings of uneasiness… and discomfort… simply because its new. And that feeling that “everyone else seems to be in a place that I’m not in!” takes over, and folks can feel left out- marginalized- cast off.
The group, by itself, couldn’t do anything for Thomas. That is, except to continue on with him. They didn’t exclude him because he was becoming a pain in the neck- or because he wasn’t where they were (yet)… they kept him in the midst of them, and held on to their faith. All were included… even the one who wasn’t quite on board.
And at the appointed time, Jesus came and touched Thomas too. And notice Thomas never actually touched Jesus’ hands and feet- he believed simply by witnessing the presence of Christ.
"Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”(29)
And I don’t think this was Jesus telling Thomas that he was an idiot for not believing without seeing… or that there was something wrong with him for not being able to believe and buy in- Jesus doesn’t condemn...
But rather I believe Jesus was saying, 'look... you are going to come across others that also are right where you were at- and I’m not always going to show up physically for people to see in order to believe.
But you can show up. And you don’t have to be worried about people “getting it” or “not getting it” or whether you think they need spiritual growth or whatever other judgment or label you want to put on them. You just show up- and let my power work through you…
Isn’t it amazing that sometimes we don’t give God credit enough to be big enough to take care of her own people? We all have opinions about what everyone else needs to do to get more spiritual. But here’s what we forget…the spirit lives and breathes in us- it works through us… it doesn’t need us to think of a plan for people, or to exert our agenda of what we think is best for people, or what we think people need to do to get on board… the Spirit is plenty big to take care of things without seeking our wise counsel, especially l for somebody elses life.
However, we can be the ones to bring that Spirit to someone else… we can bring it peacefully, lovinglyithout judgment or wanting it to change people like we think they should be changed.
How about just accepting Thomas the way he is? How about just continuing to love him? Continuing to break bread with him and with each other? Cause I don’t know about you but there have been many times in my life when I’ve felt a lot like Thomas- odd man out. And thank God there was a community who didn’t abandon me but continued to love me the way I was and honor where I was… even though I was a pain in the neck.
All we have to do is show up and let God do the rest. Just show up!