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Honest Thomas and the picture

April 11, 2015

Thinking about Jesus’ appearing to Thomas and showing him the wounds of the cross (John 20.19-31) made me think of a picture that I had at a prayer meeting about 2 years ago. In this picture:

I was nailed to a cross like Jesus and so were lots of others. Then a hand came into view to help me off the cross. I went to take the hand and found that my hand came away from the nails as I did. I was lifted off the cross, well most of me was. All that was good, all that was holy in me, came off the cross; this part of me looked bright and red like living flame in the picture. All the rest looked black and oily, and that stayed nailed down to the cross. All the evil, cruelty and sickness that is in me was firmly nailed to that cross forever.

I really want to claim for myself what the Spirit showed me in that picture. I want to step down from my cross, free of all that is not of God. I want that so much but I know that there is so much of me that is not of Christ. I want to be full to the brim with trusting, loving, forgiving, generosity, but although God has planted these things in me, there is still so much that is wrong. I want to be full to the brim with that bright and living flame, but there is still so much greed and hate and petty anger, and cruelty and other evils lurking inside of me, trying to get out. I don’t want these things to be part of me but they are there. I want to pretend that I’m only full of the fruits of the Spirit but that’s a lie.

I want to lie, but in the end, who would I be trying to fool?

  • Others? How lonely is that? Then the lie will certainly come out in the end. It’s bound to. Until then I’d have to live a lie, always keeping myself apart, fearful that the truth will come out.
  • My self? Then how sad is that? If I try to fool myself then I’m not only living a lie – I believe the lie – I become the lie. And me, the person God made me to be, that person is left out in the darkness.
  • God? How futile is that? God created all things and sustains them moment by moment, including me. So God knows my every thought and emotion, even before I do. It’s not possible to hide anything from him. Believing that I am hiding my corruption from God is the ultimate self-deception.

So again, who am I trying to fool? And Why?

Why indeed? I read about Thomas not believing that Jesus had risen from the dead and I find my hero. Thomas didn’t pretend to believe when he did not. Thomas should be the patron saint of painful honesty – ‘Honest Thomas’. His is the sort of honesty that I beg and pray for. I know that with this honesty I will look stupid at times; I will look faithless at times. But with this honesty I can respond to Jesus’ words to me, and grow. With this honesty I can respond to the Spirit, say sorry, and be transformed. I need the honesty to let myself see the evil in me so that I can be repelled by it.

Without the honesty of Thomas, I will take the hand that lifts me off the cross and look back. I will look back and see, not my evil left nailed there, but my own flesh. Until I allow the Spirit to show me the evil in me, I will be unable to let Jesus’ hand lift me off that cross. I will be unable to leave my evil behind. I will be unable to allow Jesus to set me free. In the end, my lies will be the nails holding me to that cross.

I want to share that picture again:

I was nailed to a cross like Jesus and so were lots of others. Then a hand came into view to help me off the cross. I went to take the hand and found that my hand came away from the nails as I did. I was lifted off the cross, well most of me was. All that was good, all that was holy in me, came off the cross; this part of me looked bright and red like living flame in the picture. All the rest looked black and oily, and that stayed nailed down to the cross. All the evil, cruelty and sickness that is in me was firmly nailed to that cross forever.

Thank you Lord for that picture. Thank you for the wonderful example of ‘Honest Thomas’. Lord give me the courage to face my lies and my evil – let me be able to take your hand – let me be free.

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