“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus said this to the famous “Doubting Thomas” after the event that was to fame him for his skills at doubting. [I’ve been referring to him as “Doubting Didymus” lately. John seemed to think it important to note that he also went by Didymus. Doubting Didymus. It’s a great use of alliteration, don’t you think?]
Blessed are those who have not seen yet have believed…. I still have a little trouble swallowing that one, mostly because it means me. It actually means me. Anybody I’ve ever met that is a believer falls under this category. Even the “holiest” or “most righteous” people I’ve ever met in my life fall under this category. Blessed because we believe but haven’t seen. I can take it a step further to think that the people in history that I look up to fall under this category- Mother Teresa. John Calvin. Augustine of Hippo. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The Apostle Paul. They didn’t drink the wine Jesus made from water. They weren’t there for the Sermon on the Mount or the Last Supper. They never met Jesus. They never saw his miracles. They never saw his resurrected body or touched the holes in his hands and side. They aren’t blessed in spite of these. They’re blessed because of these.
Sometimes I get caught up in these crazy hypothetical-yet-completely-impossible questions. Questions like “If I were around in those days, would I have believed?” or “Who would I have been like?” The rational side of me says that there is no way to know and not to bother. But there is this other side of me that likes to get way too existential for my own good. Would I have been like Peter or Lazarus or John the Baptist or Mary Magdelene. Or would I have even been a believer? Maybe I would have been like Caiaphas or a Pharisee or just some pagan. Or maybe even like Judas. I think that’s the really hard question. Would I have even believed? Jesus says we’re blessed for believing without seeing. But isn’t it easier this way? We know the end of the story. We know he dies and rises again. We have thousand of books telling us so. We have 2000 years of theological debate to go with it. We can read the whole story in less than an hour. From birth to ascension in sixty minutes flat. I’m not left guessing at Jesus’ cryptic words or mourning that my Lord has just died. My life isn’t part of this epic cliffhanger called the Gospels. I simply must read on a chapter or two and find out what happens. I can find out the end of the story with less effort than finding out how Harry finally defeated Lord Voldemort. This part is easy.
I’m not sure why this is so hard for me. Shouldn’t I just accept Jesus’ blessing without question? I believe he is the Son of God and Savior of the World without having ever seen him or met him! That sounds like it should merit a blessing, doesn’t it? Something about it is just so hard to grasp. Maybe its because I have yet to be one of the “those” people that believed without seeing. Nothing about my life lives up to the standard set by all the big names in Christianity. Surely nobody would compare me, or my life, to Mother Teresa or the apostle Paul. Maybe I’m just disgusted with my own lack of action because really, when I really really look at the lady in the mirror and take a inventory, I’m offended by my own lack of faith. I’m upset that whenever I resolve to be more like “those people”, I fail miserably. I’m angry because I know all the of the horrible things I do and think and want even that nobody else would ever know. I’m revolted by all of these things because they show me that I only half-believe when I wish I whole-believed. I’m really just like Peter, overly zealous one minute but that same night, I’m calling out curses over my denial of Christ…
I’d love for this blogpost to have some sort of great thesis or moral teaching that I’d be blessing the world with. I'd love it if my blogpost brought me lavish complements. I’d love if it highlighted how excellent of a person I’ve become in Mission Year or how much I’ve grown. But it doesn’t and it, rightfully, shouldn’t. Its just my thoughts, overflowing into a keyboard and after asking myself hard questions, whose answers merit no praise. How can God continually love someone who faithfully shows how unfaithful she is? Why do I always get another chance?