I’ve been reading through 35 years of my journaling.
My how I’ve changed. My how God has changed!
Now, of course God hasn’t changed, but a boat load of my beliefs about Him sure have.
Over the course of a Christ-follower’s life long journey any beliefs he has about God that are beneath Him (God) will be dismantled and discarded.
Dismantled by God. Discarded by us.
After all, the Author and Perfector of our faith desires truth in our inner most being, and we, who are children of light cannot coexist with darkness once it’s been exposed. It actually takes a herculean effort to repress truth/beauty/love, and such is the power of deceit whether chosen or not. But God, on His part, will arrange life to surface the aberrant convictions/beliefs we hold that, unattended, will eventually cause us great grief. The preferred time to find you’ve built your house upon the sand is prior to the tempest!
As we walk with God, press into His word and feel the fury of life’s storms our immature/sub-biblical/second-hand beliefs will be outed and readily tossed on the rubbish pile of “religious notions”.
A.W. Tozer said it well,
"That our idea of God correspond as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us. Compared with our actual thoughts about Him, our creedal statements are of little consequence. Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is."
Read the Gospels and you’ll see that God is supremely more interested in the unseen motives and beliefs that govern us than He is in our external behaviors and verbal declarations. Real change, lasting change starts on the inside – in the arena of motives and beliefs, and then works itself out in our actions and deeds; thus, one of His redemptive purposes in orchestrating of all the annoying hassles and struggles of life. God will initiate the vigorous unearthing of that which we truly believe about God, about His view of us, our epic role in His Larger Story, the life we long for and the Adversary set against us so that we might know the truth.
In short, if you want to know what a person really believes, their doctrinal declarations may not tell you nearly as much as how they live, pray, relate to others, worship and deal with life’s grave disappointments.
Over the years I’ve canned, modified and exchanged a whole lot of my beliefs and convictions about love, marriage, parenting, growing as a Christian, and my role in society, church and ministry, sinners, “saints”, sin, the doctrinal issues I’d actually fight over, addictions, grace… and on and on!
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. – 1 Corinthians 13:11
There is humility in growing.
Now of course there are things I believe and embrace as true that haven’t yet taken deep root in my being. It could be the reality and extent of warfare in the life of the believer, or the epic role I play in God’s Large Story, perhaps that the redeemed heart is good, or that God’s heart toward me is that of a loving father, or that healing of life-shaping wounds is available. All true, yet, perhaps not fully governing me.
In some blend of desire, faith, trust and courage I step into those beliefs by choosing to live as if they’re true. Absolutely true! And in doing so I find myself crying out to God in my prayers and in my reflections upon scripture for Him to confirm, instruct and weave these truths into my heart, mind and soul.
Take my once adolescent belief in the omnipresence of God (the attribute of God that speaks of His forever and always presence in all places). I professed that truth, but for decades I didn’t really truly actually believe way down in the nitty gritty of Craig that it was true. Life pressed in and I begin to realize my unbelief that God was present. I didn’t believe He was present the way that David did, or the way the early church did, or the way others around me did.
I begin to look for Him at odd and unusual times… outside of church, in a U2 song, in the middle of an argument, when I had the flu or the transmission failed. In odd and difficult situations, with positive and negative emotions my posture was one of questions and seeking, “Are you (God) here… in this?” “God, where are you?” “Is that you?”
And He’s shown up time and time again making Himself known, answering me, speaking, He’s jumped out of the bushes and snuck up behind me enough that His being present is a reflexive lens I now view life from, because it’s true. Truly true!
– Craig McConnell