I believe Part one
I believe. Those are powerful words. We live in a world where we choose to believe certain things. When we say we believe something we are saying that we have faith. I believe that all the little mechanical components of my car will, if operated properly, propel me in a direction I want to go. I believe that the engineers and the designers and the assembly folks did their jobs well enough to cause the desired effect. The belief is made real when I turn the key, engage the gears, and depress the gas pedal. Or not. When people say that don’t believe I always smile to myself. People operate out of faith all the time. Our real question is what do we believe in. We exercise faith all the time. Having faith, or believing, is sometimes rewarded and sometimes not. We can be disappointed when our faith is foiled. We can assume that it is the way it is supposed to be when our faith is borne out. The Apostle’s Creed begins with the words, “I believe…” It is hard sometimes to say those words. It is hard because we aren’t always sure of what comes next. What if we don’t believe what follows? For those of us who have walked with God a long time the words can quickly flow off our tongues almost without thought. For those who are coming to terms with their belief in God or for those who have been confronted with evidence seemingly to the contrary, the words can cause us to stumble a bit. We often invite people to try saying the creed aloud. Try saying it to see what it feels like to say those words. Saying ‘I believe’ as an act of testing or trying it on for size can feel awkward and strange. The truth is that we all believe something. We either believe in God, or we don’t, or we are in that strange middle ground of being unsure. I invite you to pause a bit the next time we are rattling off the Apostle’s Creed. Think about the risk you are taking when you say the words, “I believe.” The risk of saying ‘I believe’ is that what you believe may not be true. The reward of saying ‘I believe’ is that your statement of faith may prove to be wonderfully true. It is a high risk venture. Throughout the ages many have recited the words of the Apostle’s Creed boldly and without shame. We are all doubters, but God empowers us to say with conviction that we believe. Scripture says that faith is a gift from God. When you reach that place where you can say ‘I believe’ with whole hearted conviction, it is because you have been given the gift of faith.
I believe Part Two
I believe in God. It is one thing to believe, it is quite another to believe in God. Believing in God requires us to submit to the reality that there is something bigger than us, something that is beyond our ability to control or manipulate or imagine. God, if he is to be God must be beyond us. That is hard for us. We like the gods that we invent and create and can manipulate and use and who bend to our will. God is not like that. He creates and sustains us. We are his creative work and his to do with as he pleases. He does not bend to our will, we bend to his.
It is not easy to ignore God. He is hard not to believe in. If we are honest and take a close look at all he has made it is difficult to pretend that it is all a series of happy little accidents or meaningless, mindless shoving together of randomness that results in something as complex and wonderful as a brain or a rose or a planet. That it is difficult does not diminish out capacity to pretend. Some of us struggle with being atheist. Most all of us have our moments when we are agnostic, that is, we don’t think it matters if there is a God. But, all that aside, we must come to grips with the concept of God. The Apostle’s Creed invites us to say, “I believe in God.” For all of us this is a hard thing to say. It means that we acknowledge his presence and his reality. It means we will have to come to grips with what it means to humble ourselves and recognize that we are not all there is. Such submission is difficult because like Adam and Eve, we long to be our own god. We want to rule and create and make our own way. If we say we believe in God we will have to lay down that desire. It is difficult to say, “I believe in God.’” There is also amazing things that happen in us when we can get to the place where we can say it with conviction. It is freeing to be able to say it and to believe it and to act out of that conviction. That laying down of self and lifting up the reality of the presence of God is a step of faith. And that faith is a gift from the one who made us and who would be our God. What would you have to give up in order to say that you believe in God?
I believe Part Three
I believe in God the Father. The Apostle’s Creed invites us to believe in God the Father. The fatherhood of God gives many of us pause. We think of God as Father in much the same way that we think of our earthly fathers. For much of my life I have thought of God as loving, but weak because my dad was a kind and loving man who was also unable to do many things because of health issues. So that became my picture of God. It is hard to imagine a perfect father. A father who listens and cares and is attentive and is kind and loving and who gives us what we need when we need it. Even the best dad on earth fails to be all that we long for a dad to be. God is the perfect father we long for and need.
Fathers discipline us. They do things that cause us pain because that is also a deep expression of love. Fathers sacrifice for us. They cause themselves pain so that we can have what we need. Fathers want the best for us. Fathers delight in giving good gifts to their kids. Fathers take pleasure in watching their kids do well. God is perfect in all areas of fatherhood.
It doesn’t always feel like God is a good dad. His discipline can seem harsh. He can seem distant and uninterested in us. He can give us what we think we don’t need or what we don’t want. When we say we believe in God the Father, we are saying that we believe that his incomprehensible ways are better than our comprehendible ways. That is a huge leap of faith. The next time you say, “I believe in God the Father,” think about the ramifications of that statement. He invites us by his Spirit to call him Abba which is Aramaic for daddy. Imagine the perfect daddy and invite him to be your dad.