At this point, I hope it doesn’t come as a shock to anyone that I like Thomas. Rather than saddling him with the title of “Doubting,” he should be lauded for his honesty. Sure, he could have gone along with the crowd and believed, but that wouldn’t have helped. Instead, he chose to be honest and expressed doubt regarding the appearance of the resurrected Jesus.
I have heard doubt described as being like a front porch, if we are honest, all of us pass through it before we get into the house, the house of faith.
Doubt is not that same as unbelief. Doubt is an inability to believe; whereas unbelief is more like a refusal to believe. Doubt therefore, is honest; and unbelief is stubbornness. Doubt seeks the light; and unbelief is content with darkness. I doubt that God expects or requires us to be doubt-free. God, I think, expects us to listen, to question, to learn and to grow.
It is important for us to remember that belief didn’t originally mean the acceptance of a set of doctrines to be true. In both Greek and Latin belief is to give one’s heart to something. To believe in Jesus and in the resurrection means giving ourselves, at our deepest level, to him.
The story of the early Christians, gathered after the death and resurrection of Jesus, shows an interesting picture of a church with no pipe organ, no choir, no pastor, no greeters, no parish council, not even a collection plate. Today, we might not even think it qualifies as a “church.” The disciples of Jesus were fearful and doubting. Yet, from this paltry circle grew an amazing organization, and when it’s at its best, it desires one thing: to love God back.