Commonsense Christianity

Commonsense Christianity


Only . . . BELIEVE!

posted by Carolyn Henderson
You know, some days feel like this. Image clip from When in Rome, by Touchstone Pictures.

You know, some days feel like this. Image clip from When in Rome, by Touchstone Pictures.

I love chick flicks, and if we’re going to have a long-term relationship, you’re going to need to accept this. In the 2010 flick, When in Rome, five people stuffed into a Vespa 400 microcar are careening toward the glass doors of a building when the magician inside closes his eyes and sends his energy toward opening the doors:

“Only BELIEVE!” he intones, and everyone yells in desperation, “I BELIEVE!”

And the doors open — because the people believe, not because the doors are automatically programmed. Sigh. That’s Hollywood.

“Believe” Is a Multi-Faceted Word

While believing is an essential part of Christianity, there’s always the question, What are we believing in? In Mark 9: 23-25, Jesus gives us a major clue:

“Everything is possible for him who believes,” Jesus tells the father of a demon-possessed son, to which the father immediately replies:

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9: 23-25).

In this case, the parent had expressed doubt about Jesus’ ability to do something, and Jesus made it quite clear that part of believing in Him is that we fully accept his infinite power and ability to do anything He chooses. ANYTHING.

Believing 101 and Believing 102

Okay, that’s Believing 101. Believing 102 is more difficult, and it is frequently the part eclipsed by the Mega-Watt Just BELIEVE Speakers who urge people to voice their wants and desires in such a way that God has to answer their prayers, simply because they the people have said the right words in the right way:

Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29)

There’s that Believe word again, but it’s definitely not being used in the sense of careening toward closed glass doors, shouting out, “I BELIEVE that these things will open, simply because I’m being so loud and determined about it!”

Santa's a great guy, but his existence, or not, does not depend upon how hard you believe in him. These Gifts Are Better Than Toys, original painting and signed limited edition prints by Steve Henderson.

Santa’s a great guy, but his existence, or not, does not depend upon how hard you believe in him. These Gifts Are Better Than Toys, original painting and signed limited edition prints by Steve Henderson.

Belief, in and of itself, is not enough, because the essential matter is this: What are you believing in?

The Power of God, or God Himself?

“I’m believing in the POWER of God,” the Mega-Watt Speaker replies. “Speak it, declare it, announce it, BELIEVE it, and the POWER of God will be released in your life.”

Really?

While it is vital that we believe God CAN do anything, we also have to address the issue of whether or not he WILL do anything, and it is in this matter that the Mega-Watt Speakers lead people astray.

God is not obligated to do anything we ask, just because we ask it. While words are powerful, and God Himself spoke the world into existence, the mere syntactical arrangement of the “right” words, coupled with a strong enough belief that this cunning verbal skill of ours will open the doors, is hocus-pocus, not Christianity.

Hocus Pocus

And it is a hocus-pocus that has potential to damage people’s faith, because when they BELIEVE hard enough, and they say the right words, and they are still not showered with blessings, their logical conclusion is one of two things:

1) They didn’t do it right, somehow, because they don’t have enough faith

or

2) God isn’t who He says He is, and He’s messing with their minds.

Let’s look at Option 3, which involves the work of believing in the One He Has sent, from John 6:29, quoted above:

Believing in Christ is more than accepting that He exists and that He is all powerful — it is also accepting, in the worst of times, that He is all loving, all merciful, all kindness, all compassion — even. if. our. specific. prayers. are. not. answered.

Doing the Work of God

That’s where the “work” part comes in, because reaching for and achieving this acceptance is far more difficult than confidently speaking words and waiting for results; it is a matter of reading God’s word, talking to Him about it, patiently waiting, messing up as we impatiently lash out, reading more, meditating more, understanding something that used to confuse us — this all takes time, walking with God, collapsing in His arms, sitting by the side of the path in exhaustion and leaning against a tree. And then we get up and walk again, our hands in His.

It’s so much easier to jump into the Ferrari, yell out I BELIEVE! and roar forward.

But that only works for a few people, and the reason they can afford that Ferrari is because others are sending them money for the payments.

If you have been praying for something, earnestly, and it’s not happening, stop trying to tap into the power of God and seek out God Himself. He wants to walk with you, commune with you, teach you, love you, and your very insistence that He answer Your prayer, Your way, may be getting in the way of this.

It’s hard, I know. That’s why Jesus used the word, “work.”

 

 



Previous Posts

Mass Manipulation by the Mass Media
Nowadays, dystopia is the rage. Books like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner seem written for the sole purpose of being turned into movies, with a concerted effort to engage today's youth into the idea that life, and the future, are hopeless. [caption id="attachment_1363" align=

posted 10:20:03pm Dec. 17, 2014 | read full post »

God -- Coming Out of the Closet
Some unknown,  unnamed, presumably existent person, long ago, said that we should never talk about sex, religion, and politics. Aside from this eliminating pretty much everything interesting worth discussing -- including the weather since, with the growing mantra of "Global Change," the weather is

posted 9:29:39pm Dec. 15, 2014 | read full post »

The Inadequacy of Corporate Prayer
Although it's been years since I've been in a regular church situation, I can still conjure up the feelings of dread I felt at "prayer time," sitting around a circle (we're told it's "intimate") and sharing details about our lives. The worst part was when we all bowed our heads and prayed for on

posted 9:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2014 | read full post »

Forgiveness Is a Promise, Not a Contractual Agreement
Too many Christians spend too much time trying to placate a God who will not be satisfied with anything they do, simply because He dislikes them so much. [caption id="attachment_1344" align="alignleft" width="375"] White as snow, or a perfect rose -- our sins are miraculously changed from the sta

posted 6:32:12pm Dec. 10, 2014 | read full post »

5 Things to Know about Forgiveness
The first time I heard this sentence: "Jesus talked about hell more than anything else," [caption id="attachment_1340" align="alignleft" width="375"] Forgiveness is more than mumbling, "I'm sorry." It's actually a beautiful thing, worth desiring. Morning's Glory, original oil painting by Steve

posted 11:48:57pm Dec. 08, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.