Sunday, April 23, 2017

God at the Center

Caravaggio's Doubting Thomas
In the Gospel according to John, we have a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus in a Jerusalem house.  The risen Christ conferred upon the excited disciples the power and energy of the Spirit so they and their successors could continue the saving ministry of Jesus in Jerusalem and beyond.

The skeptical or doubting Thomas wasn’t there.  Thomas may have been like some people today who question whether there's a God.  Perhaps they should recall Blaise Pascal’s wager: Not believing in God is bad for one's eternal soul if God does exist; believing in God is of no consequence if God does not exist; therefore it is in one's interest to believe in God.

Thomas seems to have been a realist.  Where's the evidence?, he probably asked.

The disciples described the appearance of the risen Christ in detail.  Maybe Thomas lacked faith in the disciples.  Faith in people can be tough today as it was then.  We have to recapture the importance of truth in our lives.  Jesus Christ is the foundation.   He is the way, the truth and the life.

The risen Christ in his second visit restored Thomas' faith, prompting the cry: “My Lord and My God.”  Thomas' prayer could have inspired a prayer in the musical Godspell: “Lord, I pray: to see you more clearly, love you more dearly, follow you more nearly.”

I like to think that Thomas, like the other disciples, strove to be a man of integrity. Integrity is saying what we think and doing what we say, practicing what we preach.  It's all about our moral character.

I read in the book “The Jesus Lifestyle” that James Cameron, director of the movie “Titanic,” described the Titanic as a metaphor for life.  The Titanic was declared unsinkable because it was constructed using compartmental technology.  Tragically, the Titanic sank in April,1912.  When the wreck was later found, they discovered damage to one compartment affected all the rest.

Many people make the “Titanic mistake” trying to confine God to a segment of our lives. For example, my Church life where God is involved; my work life where God can’t be involved; my social life where I don't want God involved.

Perhaps we should think of life as like a circle: God at the center, affecting everything.  That is what I would call a life of integrity, a life not divided.

Honesty, truthfulness and reliability create integrity.   Love, or always wishing the other person good, no matter how much they may have mistreated us, is the context for integrity.

Second, did you know that twelve out of Jesus' thirty-eight parables are about money or possessions. The way we use our financial resources can have eternal consequences.  Think of Matthew 25: “When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat....”  We positively have to do good.

Jesus challenges us not to love money and use people; rather, love people and use money.  Focus on God and the things of God. Yes, think of life as a circle: God at the center.

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