This is a blog that I initially composed a number of years ago. It explains itself clearly enough in terms of the situation and context for why i wrote. I fished it out and wanted to post it here to make sure I don’t lose it.
Tonight, before sitting here to write this I have been back home in Ballynahinch with my brother for our regular Thursday night poker game. Driving back to Belfast, my mind started churning a few things over and I ended up asking myself what it actually is that I believe. Thats what I want to write about.
Let me pretext it a bit for you. My best friend and I have been having some very deep conversations regarding our faith journeys which have prompted me to think a lot about what it is I believe. Also, yesterday I was reading Matthew 16 where Peter confess Christ and is given a new nickname (‘The Rock’). In the next paragraph, Jesus predicted for his disciples, his passion and suffering. Peter, The Rock, responds by telling Jesus that this passion and suffering cannot happen to him. Jesus responds with words that have struck me hard and stuck with me. He said…
“Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men”
Then he said this…
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”
I am about to get to the “What Do I believe” bit, but a word of warning – I have not sat down and thought this through or written it down before typing. What you are about to get is raw, and I hope, honest. If you are struck by anything, or shocked by anything – please don’t think I am losing it as I am not – I don’t think! I simply need to answer this question and find myself searching hard for some of the answers.
1. I believe in God
I believe in God. I believe God created us and the world around us. I don’t know where God came from, but I believe very much that God is there.
2. I believe in Jesus
I believe Jesus existed. I believe he walked the earth and said some pretty challenging things as he did it. I believe Jesus was crucified. I believe Jesus when he says he is God’s son. I believe Jesus on the cross when he said “It is finished”. I believe Jesus was resurrected.
3. I believe in The Word
I believe that the bible is a living word that is used to communicate living truth to us. I have many questions about why the bible is the way it is, why somethings were seen as worthy to be called scripture and some were not. Nonetheless, I believe the bible is a living word because it spoke to me yesterday in Matthew 16 (The bible has spoken to me on other occasions as well). I believe the word must be read and thought through. I believe that we should always know who wrote what we are reading and why exactly they wrote it at the time of writing. I believe that the word is about who God is and it is filled with wonderful stories that illustrate just that – are they all literally true? I don’t know, but I do believe they point to who God is.
4. I believe in church
I believe in church. I am not sure I believe in ‘the Church’ as we know it or are developing it, but I do believe in church. I believe church should be a place for sojourners (with all sorts of questions, backgrounds, experiences, issues and even some baggage) to gather and seek together. I believe church should never be a place where these honest sojourners should be excluded or shunned for something they have said or done or are doing.
5. I believe in love
I believe in love. I believe that God is love and that God is UNCONDITIONALLY and powerfully in love with God’s creation. I believe that love is not earned. I believe that love is given and received.
6. I believe that humanity is screwed up
I was trying to think of a nice way to say that, but it is late and I can’t. I believe that humanity is screwed up. I believe that ‘screwed up’ has a very broad definition when it is attached to each individual human being. What I mean by that is that we are not all struggling with urges to be violent or sexually inappropriate. We look at people like that and we say to ourselves that they are really screwed up – and they are. But I believe we have trouble in looking at ourselves and saying the same. I believe we are all screwed up. I believe we are all carrying guilt over something (regardless of how big or small we think it is) and it is this guilt which has us screwed up.
7. I believe in forgiveness
I believe that it is only in the giving and receiving of forgiveness that we can experience moments of freedom from being screwed up. I believe that forgiveness needs to be shared among humans and between humanity and God. I believe that to forgive, is to set free from guilt. I believe we all need to be free from guilt.
8. I believe that humans are dumb
I believe humans are dumb. I believe that we can have moments of revelation, freedom and understanding in our lives and then follow them right up with a moment of sheer stupidity. I believe this is very well illustrated for us by Peter, The Rock in Matthew 16. I also believe this is illustrated very well in our own lives. For example, I know I have had these moments of revelation, freedom and understanding and followed them right up with a major failing. You would think when something is revealed to me and I am free and finally understand something about Truth, that it would change my actions and proneness to fail. It does not. I believe if we are all honest, (and not just piously humble) we can relate to this and thus, humans are dumb.
9. I believe in questions
I believe in questions. I believe that sometimes I will not get answers to my questions and I believe that this is okay.
I think I believe these things. They might change in the next hour, day, month, year(s), but right now as I sit here at my computer, I believe these things.
It’s not really important that you know what I believe. Maybe the good to come out of me thinking this through and writing it down will be that you ask yourself what you believe. I hope you do, because as I sit here having done it, I can say that I feel better for it.
When I was driving home in the car earlier asking myself what I believed, I could say nothing more than that I believed in God. In the car I did not have a clue what that meant. I also felt bad because when asking myself what I believed, I could only come up with one answer. I felt like a but of a mess. At least now I am a bit more of a thought through mess and I think I know a wee bit more about what it means when I say to myself that I believe in God. Thank you for putting up with me1