A lady went to the Sultan of Turkey and complained, “I fell asleep robbers came and stole my belongings.” “Why did you fall asleep,” asked the Sultan? “I fell asleep because I believed you were awake,” was the astonishing reply. The Sultan compensated the lady for her loss because she had trusted in his protection. Believing in people is all about trusting in them and what they can do for us. Someone said, “Faith never stands around with its hands in its pockets” (Kn. 115). In other words, we do not merely believe, but we also are being believed in. Ben Franklin had it right, “Trust thyself and another shall not betray thee.” We can betray ourselves in thinking that all we have to do is simply affirm that we accept God, Christ or any of His miracles. We would, if there were no doubts. But since we live in doubt and are surrounded by it, we must give evidence of our belief. And that brings us to our encounter between Jesus and Thomas. Jesus used faith to turn his people into “makarioi” or “blessed ones.”
This brings us to what actually should identify us with Christ. To paraphrase Jesus, “Believe not in me for who I am but for what I am doing” (Jn. 10:38). Jesus saw Himself in the light of Isaiah 61:12. Luke summarized it as follows: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to announce deliverance to the prisoners of war and restore sight to the blind, I was sent to set free the oppressed, and proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (4:18-19). The same assignment went to Jesus’ followers. Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” (Jn. 20:21-23). The world regards this lifestyle as weakness; Christ regarded this life style as strength. The world seeks to subdue their fellowmen; Christ uplifted man in a peaceful way. Life is more precious than the entire world and man gains nothing when he dies over perishable things. It is a puzzle to the world that more can be gained by turning the other cheek and walking the second mile than by resisting evil (Mt. 5:38-42). Being ridiculed is painful, but being dead is worse. In order to remain as witnesses in the world, Christ’s servants must choose the lesser of the two evils.
It has been said, “There are no idle rumors. Rumors are always busy.” There is a rhyme with these words, “Guard well thy tongue - it stretches far, for what you say, tells what you are” (Kn. 411). Reviling is the most sensitive subject in the Sermon on the Mount. It is one of the worst sins man commits on a regular basis. And we are all guilty of having spoken ill of some one at one time or another. Particularly, our Western Culture thrives on ridiculing others for fun. Far too many make a living by ridiculing their fellowmen.
Let us look, for a moment, at such issues as prayer and Bible readings in schools. These appear to be areas in which the Biblical followers are regaining some lost territory. Forget it. That too is an illusion. First of all, this kind of persecution, Christians have brought on themselves. And one major reason is that they were forcing their belief on others. Then they assumed that the government of this country was going to back them. They began to argue that our secular leaders had left the path of our Christian fathers. Some of the fathers may have been Christians, but they never intended this government to be Christian; rather, the government sought to protect and leave all religions alone. The fathers believed that a strong political union could protect all the rights of its citizens and not just particular one group. Unfortunately, some groups have induced lawmakers to interpret the Constitution in their favor and that will lead to serious repercussions. By now, Christians should have become cognizant that a return to Biblical principles shall continue to remain an illusion.
Peace is an elusive idea. We always have it at our fingertips, but not quite in our hands. The problem to lasting peace has been the "small-scale individual" (Wa. 1801). His world has no room for anyone else but himself. And when we have two such individuals, we have conflict and destruction. It has become an inevitable way of life in which the fittest survives. To the Old Testament Preacher, there was "a time for war and a time for peace"(Ecc. 3:8). Herodotus had come to the conclusion that man would see the error of his ways and realize that it was foolish to choose war over peace. "For in peace sons bury fathers, but in war fathers bury sons"(S.S. p.185). Benjamin Franklin had lived through such a time and concluded, "He that would live in peace and at ease, must not speak all he knows, nor judge all he sees"(S.S. p.184).