This past Sunday, many of us heard the story of Thomas in our worship services. Thomas reminds me of a distant, someone who we experience once a year. Just like our relatives, this is only a small glimpse into Thomas’ life. It is his response to one incident. We don’t know how he lives on a day-to-day basis. We know that when Thomas missed seeing Jesus with everyone else, he had doubts.
Just like a relative, we are willing to allow behavior from Thomas that we would not allow from others. We allow for “colorful” behavior from family members that we would never consider appropriate for other people. We love our family, and we seem to understand the family eccentricities far more than we understand the behavior of others. We have far less tolerance for those who are strangers.
We expect strangers to follow all of the rules and believe all the “right” things, even when they venture into our faith communities. We expect, sometimes even demand, perfection from the beginning. We don’t allow room for questions, doubts, or uncertainties. We say that we want new people to come into the church with a complete set of acceptable beliefs. Yet, we would allow room for one of family, even our church family, to have doubts. Maybe we should be giving those who are a part of our daily lives more room to explore who they are and what they believe. Maybe we should get to know them beyond the yearly visit. Maybe we should treat them as brothers and sisters in Christ rather than a distant cousin.