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Is it belief

Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.‘”  John 20:29

If you ask any Christian if they believe there is a Heaven, he will most likely say “Yes”.  And if you were to ask any Christian if God loves them, you would probably get the same answer.  We have been taught all our lives that Heaven is a real place and that God loves us.  We say with little hesitation that we believe the words of the bible are true, and we really mean it.  However, have we ever examined what we say we believe, not to validate the truth of them, but rather if we truly believe them?   

This idea came to me as I was watching the movie “Heaven Is for Real” this past Saturday afternoon.  This movie tells the true story of a small-town father/Pastor who must find the courage and conviction to share his son’s extraordinary life-changing experience of having gone to Heaven during an operation to save his life, with the world.   As the movie progresses, more evidence comes to light as to the validity of the event.  Do not worry, I will not spoil the movie for those who have not seen it.  However, I will say he did struggle with the idea  of sharing this with others.  He, being a Pastor at a local church in the community, began to question his own beliefs.

I read this quote some time ago and it came to mind again as I was thinking about the implications for myself.  “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.” – CS Lewis.  I must say, this idea has humbled me much through the years when, as I face some hard times, I do not react as I know I should.  During the past couple of months, God has been dealing with these issues in my life and helping me to see where my responses do not line up with my purported beliefs.   For instance, in hard financial times, I have had a tendency to become incredibly stressed and wondering how we will find the means to pay for extraordinary expenses that come up, or, how will we, both my wife Linda and myself, be able to retire at some point and pursue a life of benevolence and volunteering?  I began to realize that I really had some doubts about God’s willingness to meet our needs.  I knew He was able to, but was He going to?  God showed me, through remarkable means, that Mat 6:33 was true.  “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  Mat 6:33   I began to understand that I was not seeking the kingdom first, but other things had put themselves in the way.  After realizing this, I made some adjustments, predominantly in the way I prioritize my life, and I am seeing the reality of His Word.  And I am continuing this self-examination.  I want to remove any doubts I have that His Word is absolutely true.  Again, I thought I really believed Mat 6:33.  In my mind, I was convinced I had this one down pat.  But when I had to actually rely on Him, and His promises, I failed miserably.  Not Him, but I failed.

The question boils down to, do we really believe what we say we believe?  This can be hard to ascertain if we have not experienced it before.  For instance, how can we really believe that God will provide in the midst of financial trouble if we have never experienced financial trouble?  It comes down to understanding His love for us, and really getting to know Him and not just about Him.  This has been quite convicting to me.  I have come to the conclusion that the more I think I know, the more I do not.  Don’t get me wrong, there are areas where I trust Him completely.  For instance, when I was totally blind for four months, I was completely at peace, knowing that God can restore my sight, and if He chooses not to, then He has a purpose for my life to be in that condition.  I never struggled with my faith during this time.  However, there are areas where I say I absolutely believe, and then God allows something to happen which shows me I truly do not.  Moreover, I welcome those times, for it is then which I experience tremendous growth in my life and my relationship with Him.  As much as I hate going through the trials, it is there where I find the greatest joy of seeing how He brought me through, and gave me a deeper revelation of His love and grace.

I encourage you to explore these areas in your own lives.  Are there things you think you believe, but when times get tough, you react differently from a true believer in this area?   You are not alone.  Even the apostle Peter found Himself there when He denied the Lord three times.  However, just as He did for Peter, He also will pour His love and grace upon us.  He may place us in circumstances that will test our faith and belief, allowing us to see where we truly are as opposed to where we think we are.  That may be a difficult thing to see, however, it is essential for our Christian walk.  We need to have  total faith in God that whatever happens, He is enough.  That He is more than enough.  When we get there, in every aspect of our lives, then we shall have peace and contentment no matter what befalls us.  How much better we would feel when we truly believe everything the scriptures tell us is true.   I am finding that peace in my life, and I am encouraging you to make the effort to join me in rooting out the doubts that plague us.  You may not see them until it matters, but they are there just waiting for the opportunity to show themselves.  God is infinitely loving, merciful and gracious.  He wants what is best for us, but sometimes, He will take the hard way for us to get it.  But when we do, oh how much better life will be.

Categories: Theology
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