Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Do you believe?

Do you believe in God? Chances are, if you're reading this, you do. Most Americans believe in God. But what do we mean by that? What does this belief look like?

If you believe in the Tooth Fairy, you put teeth under your pillow. If you believe your house is on fire, you gather your loved ones and get out of the building. So what if you believe in God? The answer may not be as obvious as you think. It depends on what you think God is like.

Is God a righteous judge, as Luther believed when he entered the monastery? Is God a source of mystical powers as Simon Magus thought in Acts 8? Is God, as C.S. Lewis suggested most of us would like to believe, "not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven," a kindly old gentleman who just wants everyone to be happy? Is God an other-worldly being who interferes in our lives from time to time?

The kind of God we believe in determines how belief in God will affect our lives.

This is one of the many wonders of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ: he came to show us what God is like. "This life was revealed, and we have seen it," John declares (1 John 1:2). Having seen the life of God in Jesus Christ, he writes his epistle to share this marvelous vision. "We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete."

I said last week that the goal of all Christian teaching and preaching is to change the way people think about the world. It isn't enough to believe in God -- we must know God; we must know what God is like. And that must permeate our lives.

"We declare to you what we have seen and heard," John says. And we too can meet God through prayer. Ole Hallesby says that the best verse in the Bible about prayer is Revelation 3:20, "Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with you, and you with me." Prayer is an opportunity to be with God, to get to know God.

But those who make themselves the center of their prayer waste this great blessing. "Truly I tell you, they have received their reward," Jesus teaches (Matthew 6:5-8) But when we pray as Jesus taught, we open the door and let God in.

And knowing God, we will be changed.

1 comment:

LutheranChik said...

I really wish that our churches did a better job of helping people get to know God through a daily prayer practice. (I put in my .02 cents today in church, talking about my own practice.;-))