30 April 2011
What does it mean to believe in something and how does belief differ from faith? Well, I don't know exactly. People seem to make this dichotomy over and over but I'm increasingly coming to the opinion that belief is lived out in our actions. If we say that we "believe" something but we live our life in a way that is inconsistent with our purported belief, then we don't really believe it.
I often think of "those daring young (wo)men on the flying trapeze" when I think of belief. If you believe in your ability to make safe contact with your partner, you don't need guide-wires. If you want to believe in your ability to make safe contact with your partner but don't dare go without the guide-wires, then you don't believe. Although you may want to believe. As a side comment, this photo on the left of one trapeze artist catching another in mid-flight without guide-wires was in the minority on my first search page. If you do an image search for "trapeze artist", you get a lot more options like the one on the right: people using guide wires.
I think we all use guide wires at some point in our faith lives. As a culture, for instance, we say "In God we Trust" but what what we really trust in is the stuff on which that slogan is written: The almighty dollar. We say that we believe that Jesus is our Savior but we live our lives as if our accomplishments are our Savior or our children are our Saviors or our lifestyle is our Savior. Most of us are practical atheists although many of us want to believe.
Of course, owning up to our unbelief is difficult. Particularly if you're a Christian. And even moreso if you're a Christian minister.
I write all this by way of asking questions and in the hope that there is something valuable in being transparent and truthful and open. I hope that God is gracious enough to deal with my own unbelief and I have an intuition that this is where the heart of God's grace lies.
But I think we Christians need to own up to the fact that our deeds don't match what we say we believe and that is why we are wide open to the accusation of hypocrisy from those outside the Church. And we are even more hypocritical when we declare that we believe in Jesus but we just can't live as if we believe. That's the dissembling that most folk but us see through in a heartbeat.
Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief.