I spent most of 2011 and some of 2012 teaching on the importance of what we believe. Over the years I have come to see that what we believe really matters, not only in terms of our eternal destiny but in terms of how we live life on this earth. Belief has to fuel action and inform our life choices.
It’s easy to think that there is no connection between church on a Sunday and life during the rest of the week; this is a lie of the enemy. The media has made much of the fact that Islam involves the whole person and is holistic, but the truth is that Christianity too demands our whole lives, everything we are and have and long to be. What we believe shapes us, determines how we act, how we love, how we react.
“And I believe what I believe
Is what makes me what I am
I did not make it, no, it is making me
It is the very truth of God and not
The invention of any man” (‘Creed’, Rich Mullins)
Belief is not academic in the sense that it is irrelevant to everyday life. It is personal, real, and affects everyday issues; it has to be ‘applied’. One of the GCSE courses studied at the school where I work is called ‘Religion and Life based on a study of Christianity’ and it looks at topical issues such as euthanasia, abortion, the media, conflict, marriage, divorce, sexuality and the existence of God. All these things are touched by God. If God is indeed ‘is over all and through all and in all’ (Eph 4:6 TNIV), then nothing we do can remain untouched by Him. Eugene Peterson says, ‘We live in a world where Christ is King. If Christ is king, every thing, quite literally everything and every one, has to be re-imagined, re-configured, re-oriented to a way of life that consists in an obedient following of Jesus.’ There can be no divide between the ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’, for everything is sacred to God.
It’s easy to think that God is only interested in the ‘big issues’ in life, and I’m not really sure that we need to pray about which pair of socks we put on in a morning (though I don’t think there’s any harm in that either!) But I am convinced that what we believe really matters and that we need to work hard at ensuring there is congruence between what we say we believe and how we live. If there isn’t, we run the risk of being called hypocrites and there is nothing worse than dissonance between what we say and what we do for causing stress in our lives. God has made us to be wholly committed to Him and our beliefs need simply to be a reflection of who we really are, in the secret place.