The phrase “I believe” seems to have a lot of weight in today’s world but to me it is a cautionary phrase. We have to distinguish between “I believe” and “I am”. Let me give you an example of that:
“I believe that Jesus told us to take care of the poor.” This seems to be a powerful declaration but is it really? What if I asked the person making the statement “What are you doing to take care of the poor?” and he said “well really nothing but I do believe that we should.” I’m sure you can see how the second statement deflates any meaning to the first one. I think that is why so many call Christians hypocrites.
This to me is what is happening in the current day church. Our clergy leaders love to tell us in their weekly sermons that Jesus says this or that. But what seems to be critically missing is the call to actually do anything. I sat in a pew week after week and heard what Jesus did for us but almost nothing about what we can do for Jesus’ kingdom on earth. Instead I was told that according to Saint Paul I was nothing but a worthless miserable person who God expects nothing from.
I must admit that it has been more than two years since I sat in that pew but I have gotten on the website I created for that church to read some of the pastor’s recent sermons and they continue to be of the same old thing. “Jesus did it all and nothing is expected of you”. To me that is another way of saying that Christianity is a something-for-nothing religion. To counteract this type of mentality I go to the red letters in the Bible to see what Jesus said and his message is quite different from those weekly sermons. We have set the bar so low for Christian actions that almost no one fails to get over it.
I do miss the fellowship of those Sundays spent in the pew, there were certainly some good and well-meaning people in that congregation. But I don’t miss the constant mantra that I am a miserable sinner and Jesus expects nothing from me. I have come to know Jesus expects a lot from me. He expects me to give my life to doing what he told me to do. I know that he also gives me the talents and power to carry out his wishes to help bring his kingdom to earth as it is in heaven. I am not a worthless person because God has given me the gifts to make me otherwise.
Now when I hear someone say “I believe….” I almost always say “but what do you do with that belief?? It is easy to say you believe this or that, but it is hard to act on those belief. James, the brother of Jesus, told us that faith/belief without action/works is dead and therefore meaningless. Don’t say I believe but instead put your energy into actually doing something. I have almost come to think that we should sell all our church buildings and move out into our communities in living out Christ’s words. That is what he really intends….