Thursday, January 4, 2007

believing and be-living

how corny is that title?!

here's the deal: since hundreds of years ago, we Protestant Christians have had this antithesis between 'talking the talk' and 'walking the walk.' the point i want to make in this post, is that this sharp distinction between thinking and doing is not such a strong one. it may even be invalid altogether. put more simply: i'm not sure that you can separate the two, the way i've always been taught.

seriously, haven't you always heard that? "there's a difference between believing in God, and following God. faith without works is dead." (oooh, scripture...)

and which comes first, do you think? believing in God, or obeying Him?

"come on, isaiah... it's so obvious. why are you even asking?"

because oftentimes, the things that are most familiar to us are the greatest barriers to learning.

"what are you saying, exactly??"

i'm saying that believing doesn't necessarily come first, anymore.

i know, i know... that seems weird. after all, Abram had to believe in God before he left his home and family to find this new land and heritage God promised Him. Joseph might have left Mary, had they written off that angel as some wild dream. and i certainly wouldn't be going to church if i didn't believe in God, right?

perhaps, but perhaps not. think of it this way: what do you do, if one day you found that you didn't believe in God, but you wanted to?

alright, this is already getting absurd, because why in the world would you want to believe in something that you don't think exists?! doesn't that show a sort of split in your personality, or something? one of you believes, the other doesn't, and they're each trying to convince each other that they're right.

and here's where it gets extra weird: there's a third personality that gets to decide what your body does about all this. or rather, you get to decide which of the two arguments to trust in, and which to toss aside. it's like this: you're driving down a freeway, when you come to a junction. you don't know which way to turn. Mom says go right, Dad says go left. you have no way of knowing who's right until you reach your destination...

...but you can't just go straight. you've got about 10 seconds to decide which way to go.

that's what be-living is.

believing is simply giving mental assent to a concept. "yes, i think God exists." that's what demons do (as you've heard several times before, no doubt). the question is, what do the demons do about it? they certainly don't go about doing His will! they've made their decision. and even those who take no action, are making their decision. believing in God, but living as if He isn't who He says He is, doesn't make any sense.

the truth is just like James said: if you aren't living it, you don't believe it.

would you like to?

~ ~ ~

this is where the twist comes in, the one i was hinting at earlier. it's also sort of a re-statement of what i said in the introduction post: if you want to believe in God, then start living like He is who He says He is.

this is not your final destination; it's only a starting point.

"but isaiah, isn't that just playing church? isn't it simply going through the motions, living like you believe something when you actually don't?"

ahh, but there's the paradox. if you didn't believe in it, then you wouldn't be doing it. =)

a person who thinks they can get where they're going by taking the left lane (at the freeway junction) is going to take the left lane, even if they have doubts about it! if they doubt both lanes equally, that doesn't mean they just pull to a stop in the freeway! they have to make a decision.

you can continue to live a Christian life, even if you think and feel that you're chasing after the wind. you can be a doubting Thomas and a faithful apostle at the same time. in my own opinion, there comes a time in a Christian's life when they must begin to carry the heavy burden of doubt.

and it is heavy; believe me, i know. i know what it's like to pray to my own mind. i know what it's like to explain away every 'miracle,' to live with a God who doesn't live with you. i know what it's like to despair of ever feeling the way you once felt. i know what it is, to try worshipping and end up simply singing. i know what it's like to read the Bible and think, "this is just a bunch of words; there's nothing here but wild mythology and human thinking."

the bottom line: sometimes you have to act like you believe, when the truth is, you just don't.

by actually carrying through with actions that don't make sense for an unbeliever, you are professing your faith in the most concrete way you can, and you're proving to your fallen, limited, doubting self that you truly do believe. this is a place to start, if you're lost like i am. live like you believe it, even though you don't.

pray to God, even if you think you're just talking to yourself.

search the Word for wisdom, even if you think a self-help book would be better.

sing songs about His love, even though He hasn't said or done anything loving for you in a very long time, if ever.

if you're like me, you're going to hate doing this. it's going to feel fake, perhaps even downright wrong. but i don't see that we have any other option. we may not think the left lane will get us there, but we can still choose to believe that it will, by turning ourselves that direction.

stop trying to find faith...
...unless you're wiling to act like you've already found it.

as miniscule and pathetic as your faith may be right now, you will get nowhere by trying to exercise the strong faith that you don't have. you've got to begin with what you've got; you can't start anywhere except the place you currently are. and perhaps, if we're humble about it, we'll admit that this isn't such a bad beginning.


Danica said...


Danica said...

that's amazing

Tidelurker said...

This, along with a similar discussion I had with Isaiah before I read this, was one of the most profound thoughts that marked my transition from being lost and fatally skeptical to following Christ and becoming who I am today.