16th July 2020

An Encounter With Jesus 

“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’”
John 20:27 (NRSVA) 

I’m not sure how it started, but I suddenly became aware that my colleagues in the office were talking about religion. Specifically, Christianity was under the spotlight – in a negative way. I felt moved to tell them that I go to church, but asked them to continue, as I was genuinely interested. What was behind their antagonistic comments?

Two of my colleagues had grown up in very different churches. But both had suffered serious disillusionment due to the unacceptable behaviour of some ministers and fellow parishioners. After dropping out of church, they had continued to see this negative activity in churches. This reminded me of some relatives of mine who will have nothing to do with church, due to a bruising encounter many years ago. There are many who have been angered and hurt by the thoughtless and selfish actions of Christians.

It can feel that these individuals have been pushed out of reach; their hurt is an obstacle to hearing the Good News. Is there any way forward? I believe the story of Thomas is an encouraging focus. Thomas thought that the other disciples were mistaken – what nonsense it was to say to Jesus had been raised from the dead! Thomas appeared to have a lot of knowledge about the events of Jesus’ death, so perhaps he actually witnessed the crucifixion. His experience told him that all he was hearing must be false.

Then Thomas encounters Jesus. All falls into place. Thomas can only utter one short sentence: ‘My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). For my work colleagues, and for my relatives, I pray that somehow Jesus will encounter them. That Christ will, in some way meet with them, casting away all obstacles to their belief in him. For some I pray for, I haven’t yet seen change. But for a few, I have seen moments where I ponder whether God is up to something behind the scenes. There appears to be a slight change of attitude about various topics. No major breakthroughs, but enough evidence to prompt me to pray for them again!

It is Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, who brings a change of heart to those who struggle to believe. He may well ask me to participate in his calling of others by discussing my own belief with them. But whatever role I play, I must remember that it is Jesus who turns opposition into faith. So, I continue to pray that others may meet with my Lord. That, like Thomas, they will see Jesus in a whole new light.

Father, please draw our loved ones into an encounter with your Son. Let them have the eyes to see him and the ears to hear him. Where you desire us to participate, please give us the wisdom to know what to say and when to say it. We ask this in our Lord’s name, Jesus Christ.

Study by Ian Woodley


About the Author:
Ian Woodley is an Elder and Pastoral Council member of the Edinburgh Congregation of Grace Communion International, UK.

Local Congregation:
GCI, Edinburgh
Gilmerton New Church
Ravenscroft Street
EH17 8QJ

Meeting time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Peter Mill
Email: edinburgh@gracecom.church


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