O Me of Little Faith

So what in the world do you believe? Occasionally I’ll get asked that question, usually after equivocating and hemming and hawing about the things that cause me to doubt — subjects like the afterlife and historical/textual Bible criticism and whether or not today’s Christian churches look anything like they’re supposed to.

The thing about doubt is that it fills you with uncertainty. And uncertainty makes it hard to make lists of solid Things I Believe. Maybe there are a lot of things you WANT to believe, but you’re just not sure.

In these situations, I’m always encouraged by something I once heard John Ortberg say. Ortberg is a pastor, speaker, and the author of an excellent book called Know Doubt: The Importance of Embracing Uncertainty in Your Faith.

He once said — and it was in a sermon podcast I listened to (unfortunately I can’t remember the date) — that faith wasn’t our ability to gin up an unassailable belief in something that’s hard to understand, but was rather our ability to hold on tightly to the things we DO know for sure.

Which led to me asking myself: What do I know for sure?

That question led me to the famous Sermon on the Mount, and in the next-to-last chapter of O Me of Little Faith, I list some of the things I believe without a doubt…based on this passage. These are a few of the things I do believe, and my faith looks like me holding onto these with a kung-fu grip. (And trying to put them into practice along the way.)

[The following is an excerpt from O Me of Little Faith, pages 194-196.] 

I believe that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor and that the meek will inherit the earth. I believe that those people on the outskirts of society–the sick, the hurting, the disempowered, the outcast–have a special place in God’s kingdom and should be treated with compassion by the followers of Jesus. (Matthew 5:3-6)

I believe a commitment to righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, and peacemaking is something God values and will somehow reward. (Matthew 5:7-10)

I believe a life spent following Jesus really is a light in a dark world. It gets people’s attention, it illuminates and helps people navigate the world around them, and it dispels darkness. (Matthew 5:14-16)

I believe that the best individual response to evil is to turn the other cheek and hand over my cloak and walk a second mile, despite having no idea how to apply it in a community or national setting. (Matthew 5:38-42)

I believe that it’s good to love your neighbor. It’s even better to love your enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48)

I believe that the best “acts of righteousness” are the invisible ones that you never get credit for. I believe that it is important to be generous to the needy, whether that generosity means giving money, stuff, or time. (Matthew 6:1-4)

I believe that prayer is personally transformative, spiritually helpful, and somehow effective, even though I don’t understand why or how. But it’s clear that Jesus was an advocate of prayer, and you can’t go wrong by sticking with the prayer he gave his disciples. (Matthew 6:5-14)

I believe we should forgive the sins of others. (Matthew 6:15)

I believe there is benefit to fasting–spiritually, physically, and psychologically–but it’s not necessarily something you should announce with trumpet fanfare. (Matthew 6:16-18)

I believe there are more important things in life than being rich or successful. Spiritual “treasure” is worth more than monetary or material treasure every time. (Matthew 6:19-24)

I believe that worrying is a good way to miss out on the joys of life, and is usually a waste of time. I believe tomorrow will take care of itself, so it’s better for me to live in and fully enjoy the present moment. (Matthew 6:25-34)


Look for the second part of this list tomorrow. In the meantime, what do YOU believe without a doubt?

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