Greetings from the beautiful oven we call Downtown Memphis!
This last Sunday morning I referenced a former baseball player, Bill Buckner, in my sermon.
Unfortunately, Bill Buckner was most famous for an error he made on the baseball field during game 6 of the 1986 World Series. This error contributed to the Red Sox losing that game. The Red Sox would go on to lose the series to the Mets. Bill Buckner would never be able to escape the shadow of that one play. His entire baseball career would be defined by most people only by his one error.
On Monday, Bill Buckner died and the news of his death began to spread through social media and websites. Just reading the various headlines it was clear that people still had not forgotten the day the ball went through Bill Buckner's legs. In reading some of these articles, I read what I had suspected all along. Mr. Buckner was a great baseball player with a very successful career marred by one error for all to see.
My sermon was about the conversation between Jesus and Thomas where Thomas initially did not believe Jesus was truly resurrected in body. Because of that conversation, Thomas has been unfairly remembered more as "Doubting Thomas" than anything else. Thomas was a man defined in other's eyes more by a perceived failure of belief than his life of faith and belief that followed.
The truth of this story of Thomas' encounter with Jesus is that Thomas was actually very quick to believe in Jesus' resurrection. As soon as he saw Jesus and spoke with him, Thomas immediately cried out, "my lord and my God!" So I've begun my campaign to rebrand Thomas from Doubting Thomas to Believing Thomas. (We'll see how well that goes.)
All too often we allow ourselves to become defined by the negative events or aspects of our lives. We are also so quick to see other people through the lens of their shortcomings or their mistakes. As followers of Jesus, even the worst of us are new creations defined not by our failings but instead by the righteousness and grace of Christ.
In fact Jesus does not merely rebrand us and change our external image, at the point of belief He changes our very core and begins the process of transforming us into the image of God inside and out.
If you are tempted this week to look at yourself through the lens of failure, pray that you will be given the ability to see yourself and others the way God who knows everything sees you. In Christ, we are defined by what God does in and through us not by the ways we have fallen short.