What does it mean to believe in something? Is belief something that goes on in our heads? We usually think that belief is all about a mental state. In fact, I’ve even heard from some people that Christianity doesn’t appeal to them because it is just too abstract!
As I mentioned during yesterday’s sermon, words like “faith” can sound very intellectual. “Believe” clearly falls into the category, too. We kind of have an idea of what it means, but it ends up sounding very theoretical and vague.
People can believe in the tooth fairy. They can also believe the Arkansas Razorbacks will go undefeated this upcoming football season. Are these kinds of belief the same that we find in the Christian faith? Surely faith in God is much deeper!
To go from being a seeker to becoming a believer is not an abstract step in Christianity. When we believe, that is a dynamic process with down-to-earth implications. In other words, it is far more important than believing in a fairy tale or sports team prediction.
The Greek word for belief is the same one used for faith, or pistis as I preached yesterday. It means to be convicted of the truth and to have confidence in something, so much so that one shows fidelity toward its. Pistis can also mean to be persuaded.
So in reality, belief and faith are very active sorts of words. I would argue that whatever goes on in your mind “internally” when you believe in God has a direct impact on your life. Believing in God causes you to behave and think differently. You obtain a new outlook on life. You are also led to pursue righteousness. You have a change of heart to reflect Godliness.
This idea is clearly found in the bible, too. Consider the famous “faith versus works” passage of James 2:14-17:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Faith in God means we have a tangible difference in how we live. By the power of the Holy Spirit, our life will reflect the values of God’s kingdom. To paraphrase James, we are no longer just “all talk” but have the actions to back up our relationship with God!
Most Sunday mornings, we say the Apostles’ Creed aloud in worship. For centuries, Christians have practice this as a way to articulate what we literally believe. Hopefully these aren’t just words we recite. Hopefully we see them as having real-life significance…
- “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth…”- Saying this part implies we believe God orders the world around us. We do not believe things happen according to chance. Rather, God is working to heal the cosmos, even through painful times.
- “And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord…”– The “Jesus” part of the creed is the longest. We profess faith in Christ that he died for us and rose from the grave. Christ will also judge all creation. He offers us salvation. That certainly impacts how I chose to live today!
- “I believe in the Holy Spirit”– Saying this implies that we are confident God is still moving in our world. We are not alone.
- “the holy catholic church, the communion of saints”– We will talk more on this part later in the sermon series, but to believe in the church means we realize it is vital for our faith development.
- “the forgiveness of sins”– If we believe in God’s forgiveness of us, surely we ought to believe in forgiving other people!
- “the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting”– If we profess belief in an afterlife, this definitely will impact our living today! From avoiding materialism to sharing this good news with others, believing in resurrection and heaven definitely impact your daily life.
So with all that said, what do YOU believe? Does faith only stay inside your head? Or do you allow it to change your heart, actions, and words?
The Apostles’ Creed does a great job of summarizing the Christian faith. As we’ve seen today, it ought to impact life right here and now. I believe something special happens when we truly believe in God. We go from being a seeker, to becoming a believer, and that will change our entire life.