“Who do people say I am?”
– Jesus (Mark 8:27)
“Most Americans believe in God, the Bible, and a few heresies,” so began a recent article I was reading. In case “heresy” is an unfamiliar word for you, it basically means: a belief contrary to orthodox religion.
So what’s the harm in a little heresy? Well, while it might sound good to hear 53% of Americans believe the Bible alone is the Word of God, the same survey reports 51% also believe the Bible was written for each person to interpret as he or she chooses. So, basically half of Americans say, on the one hand they believe the Bible, but on the other hand they also believe they can pick and choose what they want to believe within in the Bible.
Or another example, 66% of Americans believe God answers prayer. Amen! But that same percentage also believe while everyone sins a little, people are by nature good. To believe everyone is by nature good means you can safely read Genesis chapter 1, but then have to ignore everything else written from Genesis 2 all the way through Revelation 22! It also means the death, and resurrection of Jesus was meaningless – who needs a Savior if we’re all basically good?
Here’s the danger: Your beliefs run your life. How you look at this world, how you understand God, and how you see yourself determine how you live, how you relate to others, and how you see this world. If you believe you are free to pick and choose what parts of the Bible you want to believe, you then also believe you can pick and choose which commands of God you live out, and which ones you ignore. Do you think choosing not to believe the command “do not bear false witness” might have some impact on your relationships with others?
For the next four weeks of January we are having a special series at church called Core Beliefs. This series will run during our regular Sunday School hour (9:30-10:45 am), and we will meet in the Sanctuary (for those of you who love your coffee don’t worry – we’ll have the coffee machines set up in the foyer, and you’re welcome to bring the drinks into the sanctuary with you). We will study over these weeks the Core Beliefs of Christianity, as well as the Church of the Nazarene.
Everyone is invited! Whether you already regularly attend Sunday School, a Small Group or neither. Start this New Year reflecting on what you believe, and you might be surprised to discover how those beliefs shape they way you live your life.
See You Sunday!