Monday, May 29, 2006

"I Believe"

The Apostle's Creed begins with the words, "I believe in God, the Father Almighty,the Creator of heaven and earth,and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord...." These opening phrases contain much that will take us several posts to work through. Today, I will begin with just the first two of those words: "I believe."

How much can you say about that? Well, it turns out a great deal.

First, it may seem curious that the Creed begins with the statement of an individual ("I"), even though it is most often recited by a group in a church. Yet, this is entirely appropriate. Christianity is both personal and communal, and the Bible describes the Spirit of God specially inhabiting both the individual believer and the gathered church. Thus, while faith should be expressed corporately, it also should be declared by persons who are trusting in and adhering to that faith individually. This is poignantly occurring when church members join together in expressing the individual faith that binds them to God and also joins them to one another.

Second, it has been said that much of what it means to be a Christian is understood in pronouns: God is not just "the Lord;" He is "My Lord." Christ is not merely "the Savior;" He is "My Savior." Of course, this is not intended to be self-centered, as though I am saying that God belongs to me. It is rather the opposite: I belong to God, and in belonging to Him I can find the greatest joys of life. Christian belief includes propositional truths, but it is not merely a set of propositions. These truths tell us of Christ, to whom we have entrusted our life and souls, and with whom we shall enjoy eternal fellowship.

Finally, many people misunderstand the notion of Christianity (or religion generally) being a personal matter. Christianity is personal, but not in the sense of it being private -- which it must never be. For a person who believes, Christianity has implications for every aspect of life. However, Christianity is personal in the sense of being individual. My faith in Christ is not a matter of birth, family affiliation, or of the willing of another. Rather, faith is a gift of God to an individual.

Which brings us to the second word: "believe." That one will have to wait for the next post. And, I promise I will not take the entire Creed one word at a time.

1 comment:

Kat Coble said...

And, I promise I will not take the entire Creed one word at a time.

I was gonna say... I've heard of verse by verse, but word by word--that's SOME preaching! ;-p

Seriously, though, I couldn't agree more about the personal aspect of Christianity. That level of relationship is something that appears to be lost on a lot of non-Christians.