Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What Do You Believe? Why?

John’s first letter intrigues me. John makes the statement that we often accept what men and women say but, and I think this is implied, we don’t really believe the testimony of God that he has given about his Son.
Maybe I’m just being cynical this morning. Some of the news I heard this week made me wonder how much good we’re doing. Did you hear about the children of the Congo who were being accused by their pastors of being witches? Then the pastors would exorcise the demons or whatever from them if they were paid a sum of money that was equal to one-half year’s wages. Even when the parents paid the money and the pastor supposedly cast out the demons, the children were ostracized and most often abandoned on the streets or roads of the country. Something’s wrong here and I wonder what God would have us do about it?
In the gospel according to John we heard Jesus praying for his disciples before he left them. He prayed for their protection. He interceded for them before God. He knew it was going to be dangerous for them because they were preaching a new thing. They were preaching that Jesus was the Son of God and that God’s kingdom had come down to earth and was still here. They were preaching peace and non-violence. They believe so much in what they were doing that they gave their all for what they believed. They gave their very lives for what they believed. What do you believe? What would you give your life for? And why would you do that?
I have mentioned before that the confirmation class has written faith statements, putting into words what they believe. And as they did that they realized that they had questions, good theological questions. They believed and they also questioned why does evil seem to triumph in the world?
What do we believe and why? And the other side of this is what do we do with our belief? I am constantly convicted that I’m not doing enough with my belief. I think that the world put a terrible lot of pressure on all of us. We allow the world to complicate our lives and it quietly insinuates itself into our psyches. And one morning we wake up and realize that we are not just in the world but we are the world. And we wonder how’d that happen?
It’s my belief that we allow our lives to become complicated with way too many things that we think we have to have in order to live. I’ve heard many of you say that life was a lot different when you were young. Don’t you think that’s because lives were lived a lot more simply back then? I’m not saying that technology is bad but listen to how much talk there has been lately about the ice caps melting and glaciers calving chunks of ice the size of New York City. And then we read about how fast the landfills are piling up with our refuse. And we complain about how many plastic bags we accumulate?
Sometimes I think that we try to make this way too complicated. First we have to believe that God is real and that he did create everything. If we believe that then we must believe that he sent his Son, Jesus, here to live among us and show us that God is love. Third, we must believe that God loved us so much that he allowed this Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for us in order that our lives might be saved and our sins forgiven. He did this and promised that we would enjoy eternal live with him if we would repent and sin no more.
I believe what do you believe? In last week’s message that Jim gave to you he told you that it all sounds so easy but we find out that it’s not. The reason it isn’t easy is because we try to do it all by ourselves and we can’t. We fail miserably. We have to put our faith in this God who loves us and let him show us the Way.
In the gospel lesson Jesus prayed for his disciples and in the reading from Acts the disciples prayed for guidance in choosing a replacement for Judas. Do you suppose that we might find the answer to many of our questions in prayer?
What do you believe? Why do you believe what you do? As you spend time this week in your daily devotions spend some time thinking and praying about what you believe. It might even help to write some of your thoughts down on paper. Who is God in your life? Who is Jesus and what does he do for you? Who is this Holy Spirit who filled the hearts of the believers? What is God’s word and what does it mean for us today? What do you believe?
Ponder these questions this week. Next week we will celebrate the birthday of the church, Pentecost. Let the Holy Spirit guide and instruct you this week as you spend time alone with God is study and prayer.
Friends, God loves you and so do I. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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