SERMON:     ‘It’s Proof to Me!’

Rev. Jane Courtright

 

I heard about two boys, who in Junior High School,

discovered a truth so PROFOUND, so delightful,

that they had a very hard time keeping it to themselves!

They hadn’t read it in a book, had not heard it on their cell phones,            a teacher hadn’t told it them.

These boys could not explain EXACTLY

how the revelation came to them!

 

What was the revelation that they believed

could change the whole world?

They had discovered that NOTHING CAN BE PROVED.

And then, of course, to verify this truth,

they set out to prove things to each other.

Here’s how their conversations went:

 

One would say:  “I can prove to you the world is round.”

The other would say, “Try it.”

 

“Well,” the first boy would reply, “As the earth rotates on its axis,

it spins around so that we can see the sun in the same position

every 24 hours.”

 

The next question:  “How do YOU know that?”

The answer:  “Because scientists have demonstrated it.”

 

 

To which the second boy would reply, “PROVE IT!”

First boy: “Their work is printed in books, is on the internet,

Everyone knows it’s true!”

The second boy would conclude:

“But that doesn’t PROVE that it’s true!”

 

Then, they would high five and laugh,

because it you couldn’t prove the world was round,

what on earth (or off the earth, for that matter,)

COULD you prove?

 

They began looking for classmates to victimize!

“Go ahead,” they’d say, “Try to prove something to us.”

They felt very superior, when one by one,

they were able to demolish ANY of their classmate’s arguments.

 

Finally, though, they ran onto Amanda.

SHE was regarded as the class intellectual.

She had the books and the latest, up to date knowledge

about I.T. –  Even A.I.!  SHE wasn’t having any of their cheap logic.     Amanda was persistent.

 

Their failure to convert Amanda brought these boy’s careers

as brilliant revolutionaries to a HALT.

For in the end, in answer to any of their repeated statements of

“That doesn’t PROVE ANYTHING,”

Amanda would raise her right arm and shout,

BUT IT’S PROOF TO ME!!!!!”

 

Once again, in our Gospel reading,

we met the disciple named Thomas.

Thomas, like those two Junior High boys, also demanded PROOF.

 

He wasn’t willing to take the word of others

that they had experienced the Risen Christ.

 

Thomas said, “I’ve got to see for myself.

I’ve got to touch for myself.  Unless I can see and touch,

I WILL NOT BELIEVE.

 

We don’t know a lot about Thomas, except that he was a twin;

and that piece of information tells us very little about him.

Next to Judas Iscariot however,

Thomas has probably the worst reputation of all the disciples…

at least in the estimation of most Christians.

This reputation is because of his doubt.

Hence his nickname: ‘Doubting Thomas.’

 

How quickly people forget Thomas’ courage

when other disciples were weak-kneed in the face of threats

to their safety and to Jesus’ safety.

 

Remember, all Thomas wanted was the same evidence

of the resurrection which the other disciples had already be given.

That may irritate some people, but it didn’t ‘put off’ Jesus!

 

Jesus didn’t condemn Thomas for his doubts…

he thought them important enough to address.

Doubt, skepticism, the need for PROOF is not,

in & of itself, a BAD thing.

Without it, it would be hard to survive in this world!

 

Sometimes I wish people would be a bit more skeptical

than they are at times.  If they were, they’d be less likely

to fall for all the goodies dangled in front of them!

 

Sometimes as I flip through magazines or scroll the internet

or watch tv, I am amused and disturbed by what I see.

Amused because the ad-makers really believe

they can sell products with such utterly fantastic claims.

I am disturbed because for the most part, they are exactly right!

 

A good, healthy skepticism would help us see these pop-ups

and come-ons for what they are.

Then our response would be, “Who are you trying to kid?

It’s not our well-being in which you’re interested, it’s OUR MONEY!

I have to admit, though, that the scams are getting

very tricky and hard to spot !

 

It was the poet Tennyson who wrote:

“There lies more faith in honest doubt…

than exists in half the creeds.

There’s truth in those words!

The person struggling with doubt is, at the very least,

taking seriously issues of great importance.

They refuse to unthinkingly say, “YES!’

to a set of beliefs or to a persuasive speaker.

 

The age we live in as been characterized as an age of unbelief.

But I beg to differ!  Ours is an age of BELIEF –

unthinking belief in anything & everything.

People put their trust in all kinds of scams, get rich quick schemes, books of pop-psychology, bizarre fringe groups, publications,

radio, internet & television stations.

Anything that suggests or promises safety, belonging,

happiness, black and white thinking.

 

 

 

People today are almost desperate to believe,

and the more extravagant the promise,

the more eager the believers!

Sometimes what we need is LESS belief and MORE doubt.

 

At the same time that doubt is not, in & of itself, a BAD thing,

it is important to say that the opposite is also true:

Doubt is not, in & of itself, a GOOD thing!

 

Because doubt can be rooted in cynicism or fear

or despair or laziness.

And when that is the case, then doubt can be like a ROADBLOCK

that prevents the possibility of BELIEF OR FAITH.

 

Like those 2 Junior High School boys, or like Thomas;

you and I may also demand proof,

only to learn that faith or belief

doesn’t come by way of rational PROOF.

It was never intended to be that way!

 

Remember that Thomas wanted proof by way of sight or touch.  Thomas wanted to believe

or he wouldn’t have hung around for 8 days!

He couldn’t seem to shake his doubts.

Then, suddenly, there was Jesus,

and Thomas WAS given the chance to see & touch!

 

But Thomas never laid a finger on Jesus!

The Gospel says simply, “Thomas answered and said to him,

“My Lord and my God!””

And THAT is a statement of faith

that the other disciples had not even made!

 

Jesus knew that Thomas didn’t need to touch after all.

What he REALLY needed was to be touched himself…

with an accepting, unconditional love.

The Gospel is saying that faith comes NOT from proof,

but from LOVE.

 

We can’t know or PROVE the experience of love

with the same probability as a lab experiment or math problem.

But when we experience love as real, IT IS PROOF TO US!

 

What you & I really hunger for is acceptance,

the kind Jesus offered to a doubting Thomas.

NOT a condemnation of his doubts,

but an acceptance of him just as he was – DOUBTS & ALL!

 

Then, we are called to love others with this same kind of love!

“Blessed are those who have not seen & yet believe”

Jesus wasn’t just speaking to Thomas and those disciples

who were present long ago in that upper room in Jerusalem.

He is also speaking to US future disciples,

who have to make the transition from ‘seeing & believing’

to ‘hearing & believing.’

 

THOUGH WE CAN’T SEE OR TOUCH JESUS PHYSICALLY,

WE BELIEVE THAT JESUS SHOWS US THE WAY OF GOD!

 

And because of that faith, our eyes are opened

to the many miracles of new life coming out of death.

THIS IS PROOF TO US, and explains the joy

that was born to us on Easter morning,

a joy that STILL lives!

Amen.

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