Creeds 9: belief and you
Now we have considered the background to the church’s creeds, consider how they affect you. The question is not only whether you believe what the creeds say [and you may not find all of it easy of course, so be honest if you haven’t confronted this before]. There are broader questions, too, about what you might believe and hold dear which is not in the creeds at all1 – and about whether the beliefs you state actually make any difference in your life.
Truly to believe something means you act accordingly. I believe it will hurt if I put my hand in the fire, so I don’t do it. If I only half believed that it would hurt, I might try it out – but I’ve never done that because I am convinced about it. Similarly, I firmly and clearly believe I cannot jump six feet in the air. I know some humans can do this, but, though I enjoyed the high jump at school2, I have never entertained such thoughts of grandeur, so I never try to counteract gravity with such temerity. There is evidence for my belief – I know better than even to try.
The natural result of an argument like this is to ask yourself what you do, in fact, believe. For example, if you really believe that Jesus Christ is your “Lord”3, do your actions indicate that you truly, madly, deeply, BELIEVE it? Or might it just be a form of words? An “assent” rather than a “belief”?
Jesus said some desperately deep things about forgiveness, reconciliation and new starts. Do you believe that enough to let go of the guilt you have confessed to God? Do you believe that enough to afford other people the forgiveness they need?
One of the difficulties which arises from saying a formula like a creed each week is that the words themselves can become dull with repetition, with no teeth to bite your life. As we move on at Christ the King, we will probably try some of the alternative ways of expressing faith to freshen it all up.
Meanwhile, try this. Imagine you have no creed – difficult, but try to put the creeds out of your mind. Sit down with a blank sheet of paper. Try writing out what it is you truly believe – about God, Christ, the world and human life as it should be lived.