What is Belief?

John 20:24-29

24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” 26 After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus *came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, Peace be with you.” 27 Then He *said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

A lot of colloquialisms come from this passage.  It is where we get the terms “seeing is believing” and “doubting Thomas”.  I wonder how Thomas felt when his close friends told him these things.  Was he flippant in verse 25?  Did he literally say, “ok guys, I’ll believe it when I see it…” just like we do today?  Why is it so hard for us to believe what others, especially those we love and trust the most?

We’ve entered an age where we don’t believe much of anything anymore.  The Greek word here is pistis, which literally means, “to commit to, to put one’s trust in something or someone.”  How hard is it for you to trust others?  Our world of brokenness has led to a society of distrust and untrustworthiness.  I’ve heard repeatedly over the past year that the average human lies over 200 times a day!  Yeah, it’s hard for me to truly trust others too.  If you stop and think about it, trust is the core of any relationship.  A relationship cannot flourish if there is not pure trust involved.  When that trust is violated, the relationship comes to a screeching halt.  The entities might still be involved in the relationship, but growth stops and decay starts.  Have you ever had a healthy, constantly growing relationship with someone you don’t trust?  It’s the same way with our relationship with God.

I think that the situation here between Thomas and the other disciples is very representative of the situation between God and man.  Thomas couldn’t even trust the people he trusted!  My question is: what does Thomas have to lose by believing them?  You see, we struggle so much with trusting what men (and women) tell us, that we simply choose not to believe or even entertain the idea that it could be true.  What do I gain by you believing?  Certainly, if I am asking for something from you in relation to your belief in God, yeah, I’d even be wary of myself.  However, that is not what is happening here.  Our relationship with God is simply that, a relationship with God.  It doesn’t involve others or an intermediary.  I’ve discussed this in more depth in my Why We Don’t Believe series.

Jesus seems to make a very condemning point in verse 28.  I feel the need to remind you and myself that the word “blessed” also means “happy”.  We tend to make that distinction when reading the beatitudes, yet forget it elsewhere in the Scriptures.  So why is Jesus’ statement true? “Happy are they who did not see, and yet believed.” Because they just started a relationship with God!  What does this also imply?  That at some point we will all see Him.  This is reflected in Philippians 2:9-11.

Why do you struggle with trusting God?  What is holding you back from being happily in a relationship with Him?  What do you have to lose?

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