Archive for Thomas

Lenten Focus #1 — Who Are You?

Posted in religion with tags , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

On Monday, 22 February, Dr. Lee Nelson gave the faculty chapel talk. He discussed the different attitudes people can have on their faith. I asked for a copy of his talk and his permission to use it in this blog, because it absolutely fascinated me, and I definitely wasn’t going to try and remember it.

In his talk, he discussed the different faith styles of Moses, Ruth, and Thomas. Moses, as we all know, led the Israelites out of Egypt, and Dr. Nelson described Moses as “a robust leader, a man of faith… full of talent, energy, and ambition.” No matter what sort of challenges were put in his way, Moses found a way to overcome them. When they were hungry, he found food. When they rebelled, Moses provided a voice of reason. Moses was everything a leader needed to be, because he knew that God was ever-present, and would guide him to their destination.

Ruth, on the other hand, was a woman of incredible faith. She stayed with Naomi, even though Naomi urged her to flee to a better life. She submitted herself fully to Naomi, vowing, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16b) And she did stay, and she took great care of Naomi. She wasn’t the great and powerful leader like Moses, but she remained faithful and subservient, completely selfless, and with no desire for recognition.

“Robust Moses… Faithful Ruth… Doubting Thomas…”

“Doubting Thomas” is a term that is commonly used in the English language, and it all stems back to Biblical times, when Thomas refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, saying, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” (John 20:25) Jesus, of course, appeared to Thomas, showed him his hands and his side, and Thomas, after seeing this, became the first person in the Bible to refer to Jesus as “God.”

Then the question was asked:

Who are you?  Are you a robust Moses, a person of talent, courage, vision and confidence? … Or are you [Ruth,] a bearer of other’s burdens, faithful, loving and well-doing? …  Or perhaps you are a Thomas, not quite sure who God is or what this cross means.  Maybe you wrestle with God like Jacob or test God like the Israelites or betray God like Peter – all of which would put you in the company with Thomas.

Personally, I can see myself in all of these roles. My faith life tends to have varying degrees of strength on any given day. This summer I felt like a Moses. I felt like I was called to do something important, and I started to plan a great excursion, hitchhiking across the country, spreading the Word of God, being fully dependant on God and doing everything in my power to fully rely on him.

While I was working at camp, and even occasionally today, I was more of a Ruth. I keep to myself, working on developing and strengthening my faith. At night, I read the Bible on my BlackBerry, never in any particular order, but just reading, learning more about this Jesus guy. Sometimes, I do my reflecting by just thinking about God. I was challenged one summer to try and find God in something throughout my day, be it the scraper I use to get ice off my windshield, a squirrel running across campus, or even the clouds my breath makes in the cold.

But mostly, I feel like I’m Thomas. I’m relavitely new to making my faith my own. I grew up in a household that went to church, but I never really felt connected to it, because I felt like I was asking too many questions and not getting enough answers to be a “Good Christian.” Even today, as I’m working and building my faith, I’m asking so many questions. Sometimes I question if my faith is the “right one.” Sometimes I question why there are such terrible representatives of my faith.

Mostly, though, I question if I’m on par with what God wants, which is really a stupid question to ask. Of course I’m on par with what God wants, because what God wants is for me to question, to seek answers, and to develop and strengthen my faith. And as long as I’m doing that, I’ll never be off course.

The question I pose today is: Who are you? Are you Moses, Ruth, Thomas, or something in between?

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