Friday, June 15, 2012
A Declaration of Faith
What does it mean when someone says, “I believe in God?”
Well, there are at least two ways one may interpret this saying. One is that the person in question is making a declaration that they believe God exists; they are confident that there is a being or power ascribed as God, and that he dwells “out there” somewhere. This first declaration leaves a little something to be desired.Such an affirmation is barren; God is a vacuous word until qualifying content is introduced to define the nature of the being/person/entity you are referring to. Many times someone creates their own opinion about God’s character or nature, generally ascribing to this God attributes that are not condemning, hardly holy, and altogether forgiving and accepting of any and all shortcomings and sins. This generic God is a neutered, safe and useless God that never interferes in one’s life and asks for nothing; the reason being is that such a God does not exist and never has. But this is the danger of trying to measure out God by a measuring stick of our own creation: at best we envision a very warped perception of holiness, majesty and power that would be the nature and entitlement of any being bestowed with the name “God.”
Years ago I had a conversation with a young woman while I was a carnal Christian. I asked her if she believed in God and she said “Of course I believe in God! I also believe in fairies.” That comment stuck with me these numerous years, and it revealed to me the shallow confession of how many people construe God. This young woman’s well-intentioned confession had no more factual or realistic appeal than her belief in faeries. There was no evidence, no facts, truth or proof. There was only a fanciful conviction that it must be so; yet this admission of God’s existence did nothing to repair her moral foundation for her God was bankrupt and empty. There was nothing in him to define his character or motives. He was hollow and pointless, some faceless entity termed “God” that didn’t ever impact or interfere with reality.
This is what I hear many times when someone tells me they believe in God. They believe in a being higher than themselves, but not a being of objective dimensions that has revealed himself in a historical or testable way; he is merely an abstract concoction of the mind. I fear many people give very little thought into what composes the God they confess, and whether or not there is any merit that such a God even if exists, if one should. If he/she/it does not impact you here on earth or have anything to do with you presently, why should he/she/it develop interests in you when eternity finds you? If God is a being then he is capable of expressing himself in a way that removes doubt as to his nature, intentions, and desires toward mankind. If there is such a God then there are good odds that this being has already spoken to man in a concise way, through a single medium, so as to remove all confusion and doubt as to whether or not the message is truly from him. It would take God’s own words to express what would otherwise be inexpressible to men.
Moving on, when I hear the spiritual Christian declare “I believe in God” I hear more than a simple confession that God exists, though that may also be what they are implying. When I tell someone that I believe in them I’m not affirming that I believe they exist; rather I am letting that someone know I am confident and comfortable with their skills, ability, and power to do what it is they are endeavoring to do. It is an attestation that I trust their character and their word; in some sense it means that I have faith in them.
Raising this notion to the divine, confessing belief in God goes well beyond pointing out the obvious, since only the fool says there is no God, Psalm 14:1. It is a confession or declaration of faith in Him. It is letting others know that I have confident trust in the Almighty who says and then does, and no one can reverse it, Isaiah 14:27; 43:13. Is this what you mean when you say that you believe in God? The verity of the Bible is beyond dispute to the open inquirer. It has been vindicated on all fronts where it has been assaulted, and yet for all of this it is still under attack today with the same arguments that were successfully answered long ago. It is clear then that some simply do not wish to listen, but are content trying to dislodge the faith of others. Let us heed Paul’s counsel when he writes “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God,” Philippians 1:27-28.
When we say that we believe in God, what quality of Him do we believe in? Do we trust His promises? Do we rely on His strength? Do we have faith in His unfailing love? Let this simple statement be a window to present the Biblical God to our neighbors next time someone opens that door of opportunity and says “I believe in God.” God give us grace to understand and obey His will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.