“Faith and Vision”

Here are my thoughts for the 2nd Sunday of Easter, 1 May 2011. The Scriptures for this Sunday were Acts 2: 14, 22 – 32; 1 Peter 1: 3 – 9; and John 20: 19 – 31. There are references in this post to the age of the earth. ; see “A Brief History of Atomic Theory” and “How Old Is Old?” for a discussion on the topic of atomic theory and radiometric dating.

But unless I see the wounds in his hands and feet and feel where the sword pierced His side, I will not believe that He has arisen from the grave. With those words, Thomas the disciple became “Doubting Thomas”, forever remembered in the history of Christianity as the one who doubted the stories his friend told him about Christ’s resurrection.

It is very interesting that in today’s society, we will quite willing believe something someone tells us and not ask for the proof. Our educational system seems to have evolved into a system of pronouncements from the instructor that are taken at face value by the students who will dutifully write them down, memorize them, and then at the appropriate time, record them on the test. This will be followed with the removal of the information from the brain and the memory so that more facts, figures, statistics and trivia can be stored until the next test.

I don’t think that Thomas deserves the rap that he gets for telling his friends that he would not believe until he had the proof; it should be in our nature to question things and demand the proof.

As you should know by now, I am a chemist by training and temperament. The whys and wherefores behind the decision to become a chemist are more a matter of time and place; still, I made the decision to major in chemistry as an undergraduate and it is a decision that I have never regretted. And when I made the decision to become a teacher, I became interested in how students learn chemistry and that interest was behind my doctoral research.

And yet, today, when I look at the students in school today and society in general, I see a society and schools totally devoid of curiosity and a desire to inquire about the world around us. The frightening thing is that such a world, a world where statements made are blindly accepted, is a world in which a few individuals can easily control society.

And this includes the church as well. Now, Christ will tell Thomas that others will come to believe without seeing. But that is because Thomas and the other disciples will tell them what they saw and those individuals will tell others. And the story will be told throughout the ages until this time.

There are those who today say the Crucifixion and Resurrection were either a hoax or a conspiracy. But if it was a hoax, if it was a conspiracy, how is that the story has lasted for over two thousand years?

Faith may be a belief in things unseen but faith is often times seen in the things we say and do. Faith demands testing, for only in the fires of a test, is it refined and purified.

But too many people do not want their faith tested; they don’t want questions asked nor do they want to ask any questions. This is the way it is and the way it will be and that is all there is to it.

Such individuals are quite happy that we have lost our questioning skills. It gives them power. They don’t want people to question their faith because if they did they would fully understand what Christ meant when He walked on this earth two thousand years ago. They seek, they demand that we accept their version of reality, a version that tells us that the world is only six thousand years old. But the evidence tells us that the earth is over 4.5 billions years old.

They demand that we accept their version of how the Bible was written as insight from God and not through an agreement between individuals answering to the Emperor Constantine. They demand that we accept their version of society, in spite of the fact that the evidence of the early church was a society where men and women were equal.

But, in the end, those who prefer that the earth be 6000 years old, the Bible be written in somewhat magical terms and the rich have power while the poor suffer will succeed only if those who truly believe do nothing.

When Jesus began His ministry in the Galilee some two thousand years ago, disciples of John the Baptist came to Him and asked if He was the True Messiah. The Baptizer, sitting in Herod’s jail and about to be executed, was concerned that all of his preparation work and his baptism of Jesus had been for naught. In reply, Jesus told the Baptizer’s disciples to go back and tell him what they had seen, how they had seen the sick healed, the lame allowed to walk again and the blind regain their sight. Tell them that the people had regained a hope that had been lost. Then the Baptizer will know.

Two thousand years ago, how did those who did not see the Resurrection first hand know that Christ had risen from the dead? It is because a story was told again and again. It was Peter standing before the crowds and proclaiming that the prophecies that they had all been taught in school had come true in Jesus Christ. It is a story that we have the opportunity to tell.

In the end, I cannot make you believe; I can only give you cause to belief. I must put before you the reasons for you to change your own thoughts; I must challenge you (not command you) to see the new vision that Christ offers. To do that, I must provide a vision, a vision of the world where the Kingdom of God does exist. Faith may be a belief in things unseen but others see faith in action when those who have faith and believe live a life where Christ is a part of their life.

The words echo throughout the ages, “tell the world what you see and they will know.” The challenge is to lead a life that shows that Christ is alive; the challenge is to offer a vision so that others will know that Jesus Christ is alive today.

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