When I was young, I don't ever recall
having a real belief in Santa Claus.
That may sound really sad to some of you, but I will assure you that it certainly didn't diminish my joy at Christmas! I enjoyed the gifts and the toys, but the magical allure of Christmas for me was not grounded in the belief of fiction. It seems that I always knew where my Christmas gifts came from, and in that reality,
I was, and remain, content.
As an adult, I still try to keep my life grounded in reality. I'm a realist by nature, and it is not in my DNA to allow foolishness to enter my mind in the form of the dismal of truth being replaced by the temporary comfort of a lie. If you know me, then you know that I am someone who has a clearly defined picture of what I believe, and I'm also someone who knows why I believe the way I do. If you don't believe me, then ask me, I'll tell you! Today, I see so many people who are living their lives grounded in the deception and hollow comfort of lies...all the while never really coming to a point of believing in anything.
What do you believe in? Where do you ground your happiness and peace? What is static and concrete enough in your life to establish the framework of your joy? Do you know what you believe? Many simply do not.
Our beliefs bring a specific identity into our life. In large part, our beliefs define us. Politically, we are identified based on our belief of conservatism or liberalism. From the perspective of sports, we can readily be identified by our favorite team. If we have a belief in something, then we can normally be counted on to support it. Not only that, if we truly believe in something, then we will learn more about it, we will defend it, we will honor it with our time, and we will spend our entire life proudly discussing it with others.
Most of our country claims a belief in the God of the Bible. Every Sunday morning, church doors swing open wide and flocks of well-dressed 'believers' happily herd inside. They laugh, hug, shake hands and slap each other on the back in an effort to cheerfully acknowledge those whom they have joined with on this day to worship. During the service they smile (well, some do, anyway) and sing, and with open Bibles, they methodically take notes...constantly shaking their head in affirmation to the words of the preacher. But, how many of these people are really there because of true belief?
After so many years in ministry, I have decided that if you really want to find people hurting, then go to church. And, churches contain some of the absolute best actors and actresses on the planet, because Christians have a well-developed knack for hiding their pain...especially at church.
No one really wants to divulge the fact that their life is not perfect, right? Specifically, we don't want anyone at church to know about our pain, because everyone at church has a much greater walk with Jesus than we do, right? They will look down us, right? They will judge us, right? (On a side note, there's a pretty good chance of judgment at church...be warned) And, since we are the only broken ones in the building, we hide our pain underneath the thin and very fragile facade of smiles, laughter, and pats on the back. But, what we're really hiding isn't pain; what we're really hiding is a lack of belief in the power of God.
If we walked into church every Sunday with a true belief that God would meet us there, and with a true belief that God was waiting to redeem, restore, and rejuvenate, and with a true belief that our cries to Jesus were more important than our assumption of judgement by others, and with a true belief that we live covered by grace and empowered by the blood of Christ, then I believe that church would be a place much different than we currently make it. Church would become a place of relevance to our relationship with God. If we truly believed that God was God, our lives would not be spent living out the lies of nominal, habitual, worthless religion; our lives would be spent embracing the power and victory of the blood of Jesus Christ. We would not live our life seeking compliance with the opinions of man, but we would live our life in communion with the grace of God...grace provided as a result of the finished work of Christ on the cross.
If we really believed that God could do the things that we take such diligent notes about on Sunday, then would our lives not be a reflection of that belief? If we really believed in the relevance of the empty grave, would we not be walking in some degree of sustainable victory? If we really believed that God is standing at the door of the heart of those who believe in Him (Revelation 3:20) seeking fellowship, then would we not arise from our cushy recliner of lukewarm apathy and go answer the door? If we really believed....
What do you really believe about God? What did you believe that Satan has convinced you isn't true? If we really believed in God, His love, and His promises, then what in our life should change right now? Our belief in God should define us, our attitudes, our words, our habits, our thoughts, our actions, and our relevance to the world of unbelief that God has placed us in.
Our belief in God is dependent upon our fellowship with Him. He's waiting for that fellowship. He's knocking... Decided what you believe, and answer the door.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. – Revelation 3:20 (ESV)
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!