More Than Belief

More Than Belief

Belief is a tricky thing. Belief for many is something they stake their lives on. For others belief is an honest and vulnerable journey of discovery traveled throughout a lifetime.

Sometime we believe what we say and say what we believe. Other times we say we believe in something, but sure don’t act like it. And sometimes we deny we believe even though our actions say otherwise. For example,

I believe in free speech. But there are some forms of speech I do not accept, will not support and I  certainly will not go along with certain kinds of speech – hate-speech, bullying, slander.

I believe evil exists, but I do not seek it out, I do not give my allegiance to it, I do not follow it.

I believe in the goodness of bacon, chocolate, and ice cream….but I do not base my diet around them, I try not to give into them too much, I eat them in moderation.

I believe in science and reason, but I do not stake my whole life in them because there’s more to living than science and reason, there are too many things that we cannot explain with them. And the irrational and unscientific are too beautiful to resist, too real to renounce, and too true to ignore.

Belief – an acceptance that something is true or that something exists

You see, Belief is cognitive. And the life and teachings of Jesus are so clearly about the way we live – not merely about what we cognitively believe in.

In fact, the word belief in our language is much to simplistic of a word to fully get at the meaning of the relationship with Jesus that scripture calls is to.

The Greek word in scripture is pistueo – and it is usually translated belief.  For example, John 3:16 –

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that anyone who believes in him shall have everlasting life.

The word believe here is pistueo – and it means more than cognitive acceptance.  It means to trust, to entrust your life to, to follow because you have confidence in, something which you accept so as to live your life differently because of it.

God so loved the world that he gave his only son that anyone who follows him, trusts in him and lives out that trust shall have eternal life.

That’s a good bit different than simply believing in Jesus.

For far too long, the church has weakened and watered down its core message to one of belief. And frankly it’s made us look liked a sleezy used car salesmen. Far too many people have bought our belief only approach to faith and found that not much changed for them – they still had the same struggles and doubts, the same concerns about their lives, the same old same old. They were looking for the Amazing Grace we promised, but they found that the John 3:16 belief they bought was breaking down in their lives after a few hundred miles.

And they have been leaving the church by the droves over the past several decades. Today we call them religious nones, that is, when asked about their religion or their faith, they answer “none.”DECHURCHED-600x371

Roughly eight-in-ten religious nones say they were raised with a religious affiliation. When asked why they no longer identify with a faith, about half say they stopped believing or started rejecting religious beliefs. Another 18% say they are unsure or undecided about their beliefs. And of nones who now identify as atheists, 82% say a lack of belief spurred them to leave religion.

Now bear in mind they are not talking about the way they live when they say lack of belief.  They mean exactly what the Church and society have taught them to mean about belief, that is, that they do not conform to the cognitive beliefs the church says they must have to affiliate with a family of faith. And this saddens me greatly.

The church has reduced faith to cognitive assent such that people who have honest questions, doubts and other struggles end up leaving the church because they do not fit the mold the church created for them.

What if, by contrast, the church were a place where we held one another in the midst of our questions, doubts and struggles in our thinking about God and  Jesus? What if we walked the journey with one another, supporting especially those who were unsure of their beliefs, who questioned what they really believed, who were trying to make sense of the beauty and truth of things that are beyond our ability to rationally explain? What if the church was a family that accepted one another because we love one another, that made space for struggles, that welcomed cognitive dissonance, that realized there is more to faith than belief?

*This is an except from Sunday’s sermon (5/14/17) Beyond Belief. Listen or read the entire sermon here.

If You Missed Last Sunday’s Sermon…

Read Beyond Belief – John 14:1-7

God’s Words for This Week

Acts 17:22-31Indeed [God] is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’ (NRSV, v.27-28)

Psalm 66:8-20We went through fire and through water, yet you have brought us out to a spacious place. (NRSV, v.12)

1 Peter 3:13-22Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. (The Message, v.15)

John 14:15-21 – The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. (NIV, v.21)

This Week at Hood

Wednesday, May 17, 5:30 pm – Snack Dinner
Wednesday, May 17, 6:00 pm – Children’s Class & Choir Practice
Thursday, May 18, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm – Pastor Jason available for conversation at the Cellar (108 N Wilson Ave)
Saturday, May 20, 6:00 pm – Gospel Sing Concert (Central BC) Meet at Hood at 5:15 pm, RSVP to Joanie by Wednesday
Sunday, May 21, 11:00 am – Worship & DWM Luncheon


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