For years we have been taught that we need to have a strong faith in God and not doubt like Thomas doubted! Comments like this have made doubt the opposite of faith! But is doubt really the opposite of faith? Oxford Dictionary says doubt is the lack of certainty. To me, doubt says that I need a little more clarity. And God knows we all need that clarity all the time in all aspects of life. Don’t we say things like that? I know we do! I do: I am applying for this job but I am not sure if I am the right person for it! or I have my reservations but I will… and we can fill in those blanks. We always are looking for more clarity, and sometimes we wait till we are clearer but other times we jump in with faith.
Rachel Held Evans in her book, Faith Unraveled, says, “Sometimes I long for the days when I was so certain, when faith was as sure a thing as thunder after a lightning flash or the scent of almond cherry at night.” but that was a longing for her and not the reality of her everyday life. Neither is it ours. We do not always have certainty about everything, but we step out and do things in faith. Doubt then, is not the absence of faith but a step towards. For us to doubt something, we first have to believe in its existence, we have to believe it is real.
And here is the other thing -- Thomas asked for evidence before he could believe that Jesus was around. For that he gets the name ‘doubting Thomas.’ He wants to see before he believes. But, the other disciples are no better than him. The rest of the disciples were in the room when Jesus first showed up, so the other disciples have seen Jesus. They do not need to question -- they have seen Jesus. Thomas hadn’t so he asked!
I also admire his courage for asking. He did not believe simply because someone told him to believe. Asking questions, and having the courage to ask questions is not a bad thing. We may get a bad name for it but we will be true to ourselves. Ask questions! Be courageous! We perhaps will be able to unlearn much of bad theology and practices if we are courageous and start asking questions -- not because we doubt but because we need more clarity. Oh, do you want to know why we celebrate Holy Communion once a month? Ask me.