Posted by: mikenicholsblog | August 27, 2015

misconception in perception

Perception often becomes our reality. It is especially true that perception becomes reality in the way we view others. I’m sure there is someone in your life that at one time you viewed in a negative light, only to find out later how wrong you were.  I must admit to sizing up the dominate characteristics of people quickly and forming my opinion based on them. Often, in creating a perception of that person (my reality), I have ignored their redeeming qualities. I am confident I am not alone in this. It is so easy to do!

To my discredit, I have done this with a man in Scripture.  I allowed one particular characteristic to define him.  I believe this is true of many, and that you too may tell a similar story of misconception.  It is so easy to do! The man is Thomas (did you already guess?), and when someone would say “Thomas,” I would think “doubter.” In truth, there was so much more to his life than his occasion of doubting.

Thomas is listed only once in the books of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Each one lists him as an apostle, but you will find no further details of his life. It’s in the book of John where we learn about this man whom we tend to perceive as the doubter (which is what he did, but not necessarily who he was). In John 20:24-29 we read of the post-resurrection scene which creates the view of Thomas most of us have framed in our minds. If we look beyond his doubt, however, we find another scene which is a picture of courage and devotion.

In my study, some of the words which stood out about this man were melancholy, pessimist, worrywart, brooder … not so flattering, I would say. But there are also the words, loyal, devoted and courageous which were demonstrated in John chapter eleven. Quite frankly, the latter words give me a far better perception and broaden my reality in viewing Thomas.

Most Christ-followers know the scene. It’s when Jesus delays going to Lazarus when he was sick and died. Jesus did everything on purpose and this was no exception. He waited to go for a reason, and we all know the miraculous raising of Lazarus from the dead. In the midst of this story in John 11:1-16, we find the first reference of Thomas speaking in the Gospels. Verse sixteen speaks these words:

So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Jesus was determined to go to Bethany, and the disciples were against it. There was great danger there and just a few days before, the people in Judea had tried to stone Jesus.  Isn’t it interesting that the first recorded words of this man we call “the doubter” are words, in my estimation, of courage and great devotion to Jesus.  He was willing to go with Christ, even if it meant death.  His words were a challenge to the other disciples and to all of us who are following Him today.

So this man, I have chosen to perceive primarily as a doubter (my reality), has become so much more to me. He was a man, who at great potential peril to himself, had the courage to say….. Let us also go, that we may die with him. We can’t deny his doubting, but neither should we deny his courage. I see my story in his doubting … I also want to see my story in his courage!

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