I was sharing last Sunday from John 20 where the disciple Thomas gets his famous nickname “Doubting Thomas.” How would you like it if you were remembered in infamy for your worst moment? Drunken Doug. Arrogant Andy. Cheater Chuck. Strike-out Sam. Walk-of-Shame Sandy. You get the picture. Some of you still mourn that you can’t shake a certain reputation no matter how hard you’ve tried to undo it.
I’m glad that I’m not remembered for my worst and weakest moment. I would be known as Suicidal Tim. It was period in my teens when I felt like I couldn’t match up to the crushing expectations I had for myself. For two years I actually spent each morning sad that I had woken up because I wish I had died in my sleep. I was that depressed. I should have reached out for help but I was able to hide my depression well enough that I had none of the normal signs. It was a horrible two years of my life trapped in this depression that I had no idea how to talk about or find a way out. Thank God that He literally intervened and brought me out of this self-absorbed obsession with trying to make myself feel valued by adding external things to my life. I realized that only God can satisfy my deepest need for purpose in this life and my hope for a better world. I’m so glad that I’m not remembered as Suicidal Tim. What would your nickname be if you were remembered for your worst moment?
But poor Thomas. He will be known forever as Doubting Thomas. This is totally unfair since Thomas boldly travelled to India to share the gospel and was martyred for his commitment to proclaiming Jesus as Lord of all. In fact many seem to overlook that Thomas’ doubt was quickly erased once he saw Jesus in that room where he immediately proclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Thomas was one of the first people to rightly identify Jesus as “God” and not merely a prophet or teacher or even a messiah of some kind. Thomas has wrongly been remembered as Doubting Thomas so I hope I can do my part to undo his reputation. We all get a new start once we encounter Jesus, don’t you think?
What nickname would you have if you were remembered for your worst moment? In Christ we are offered a new identity as God’s adopted children, friends of God, ambassadors for Christ and many other wonderful realities that I feel like I’m only beginning to live into. Spend time with Jesus this week and get to know the real you instead of allowing others to define you by your worst moments–or even your best moments, too! We should never allow ourselves to find our identity in the things we do but in who we are in Christ. Never allow the worst moments or best moments define you and be free from finding your value in external things which change and fade. Find your nickname in Christ because He thinks the world of you and died so that you could reclaim your eternal significance that He created you for.
But I also admire Thomas for the very questions he seemed to be asking. I’m glad that Thomas is a thinking person. I’m glad that Thomas demanded some evidence before he would be willing to believe. I think people should have a healthy skepticism when coming to matters of faith. In fact, even those who doubt Jesus’ claims as God in the flesh actually are espousing a kind of faith. We all have faith in some way and what differs is what we put our faith in.