JR. Forasteros - June 11, 2017
More From "Believe"
I have a number of friends who say they don’t believe in God or are waiting to be convinced of the existence of God. Many of these self-identified atheists or agnostics, grew up in churches. When they share their spiritual journeys with me, I hear the same story again and again. When they reached the point where they took their faith seriously enough to begin looking for truth, to study and ask questions, they were told to stop. They were told to JUST believe!
This has created a rather ironic problem for many of them — they are no longer Christ seekers, they no longer believe in God because the Church insisted, demanded they believe. And not just believe, but believe without questioning!
The Church emphasizes believing the “right” things.
Ask most people what it means to be a Christian and you’ll typically get some version of “believe Jesus died for your sins.” If you ask them for more (or to elaborate) you might get things like “believe in the Trinity” or “believe in the Virgin Birth” or “believe in the Second Coming.” But isn’t there more to it? What about doing the right things.
We know Christians are supposed to be loving and peacemaking and kind and generous but those don’t make us Christian. Lots of people are loving and kind and they’re not Christian.
So we tend to focus on beliefs. But, as many of my atheist and agnostic friends can attest, in fact, as many of my Christian friends can attest, we can focus so much on belief that it becomes all that matters. We’ve all met Christians who believe all the right things but are pretty terrible people. People who can check all the right belief boxes but are selfish, cruel or uncaring.
There’s a middle ground. Belief matters. It really does. But beliefs that don’t transform us, change us to be more like Jesus (or better reflect God’s image) aren’t good for us – the Bible actually calls them worthless. Today, we’ll see that beliefs only matter when they shape our behaviors.