I said I would write essays based on the Mennonite Confession of Faith. It is called “On God.” Please tell me what you think in the comments below.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Do you really believe that God created the heavens and Earth and every living thing on the Earth including human beings? Most Christians will respond to this question by saying something such as, “Of course! God is the creator. And it says right there in Genesis that God created everything.” Even during my New Age years, I believed that something beyond random chance was responsible for life; even then I acknowledged a wise god being. I will repeat my question more strongly before beginning to respond to it. Do you truly believe with 100% of your mind and heart and soul and strength that God created the heavens, Earth, and all living things that dwell here?
It was probably one year ago this week that my wife and I were visiting a non Mennonite evangelical church that we were considering joining. We were in the adult Sunday school class, which was being lead by the pastor. The class began with people talking about the previous week’s lesson, which was part of a series on listening to God’s will. One lady responded by saying — “I know the Bible says that we are to turn the other cheek, but at some point we have to strike back.” In part, she was referring to the war and to domestic security issues. The pastor confirmed her point of view through is complete silence. What the lady was really saying was — I believe in what Jesus said, BUT enough is enough! She had her beliefs and she had her doubts, and those doubts were preventing her from fully believing God. She was expressing the true state of her beliefs, and I believe she was also asking, “Am I right?” Sadly, the pastor chose to avoid answering the implied question and simply left her with her doubt.
For a long time, I was just like this lady. I believe the major points of the Bible, but reserved the right to doubt that these points could be applied to situations in everyday life with 100% certainty. Speaking of creation now, I used to believe that God created everything at some point, and then He let it all evolve through some type of adaptive process of evolution. I believed that God was still involved, but that life on Earth was all a self-propelled work in progress.
I have been confronted by the Holy Spirit of God in this matter. “Why do you believe such things?” He repeatedly asked. All of my reasons were rooted in a desire to avoid accepting certain facts that have been expressed in the Bible. I was unwilling to surrender worldly thinking for Godly truth.
For example, if I would have read a statement in past years such as “God’s knowledge of all things and care for creation are perfect in preserving love.” (Mennonite Confession of Faith, Article 1), I would have breezed over it to avoid comprehending the implications of such a statement for my life. I would have tried to avoid feeling discomfort. In fact, that was where I lived, in a little world where I idolized the god’s of comfort and ease.
In that world, I wasn’t willing to be humble enough to accept God’s full and complete knowledge of all things. I didn’t believe that He was really taking care of everything. I didn’t really believe that God’s love would preserve anything. Yes, I believed that God was the creator, BUT…. My belief was not 100% in this area.
The consequences of partial belief are substantial. Sin and self-will quickly rise up whenever we think we know more than God knows. When this happens, then we begin to take over God’s job. We become little self empowered deities who think we have the right to decide whether a baby should be born, an elderly person should be helped to die early, and weather war and killing can be justified. There is no rest and no peace in a world of imperfect belief. There is only deep fear, widespread anxiety, and heart sickening dread.
The consequence of experiencing humility, by living in the light of God’s reality, leads to a different place. Standing before God and His majesty and comprehending that “God’s knowledge of all things and care for creation are perfect in preserving love” is a transforming experience. It leads to complete peace – the true peace of God.
God helps us be transformed by pointing out the source and origin of our disbelief. God, will not magically remove our disbelief. We must choose to destroy the temple of selfishness and sin that lives in us. The Holy Spirit will rapidly convict us of sin and self-empowered attitudes, but it is up to us to repent. Repenting is more than saying “I am sorry to God.” Repenting is the willingness to yield to God and to change ones beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors in order to be conformed to God. It is a daily choice to depend upon God to be our strength and our truth. It is learning to be a child who absolutely depends on his or her Father in heaven.
I believe that when we open our minds and hearts to the presence of the Holy Spirit when meditating on the qualities of love that are described in Article 1 of the Mennonite Confession of Faith, we can be moved toward a deeper belief in God. Such movement, however, rests upon our full willingness to be transformed. I plan on spending more time with the qualities of love that are described in Article 1 in the days to come, and asking God to show me where I am still resistant.
Lord Jesus, I want to be more like you. I want to break down anything in me that is preventing me from living in the reality of your existence with 100% certainty. I can’t do this by myself. Please help me see what I have not been able to see for myself. Show me the truth that I have been avoiding. Amen.
(From Mennonite Confession of Faith, Article 1.)
“God’s awesome glory and enduring compassion are perfect in holy love.
God’s sovereign power and unending mercy are perfect in almighty love.
God’s knowledge of all things and care for creation are perfect in preserving love.
God’s abounding grace and wrath against sinfulness are perfect in righteous love.
God’s readiness to forgive and power to transform are perfect in redemptive love.
God’s unlimited justice and continuing patience with humankind are perfect in suffering love.
God’s infinite freedom and constant self-giving are perfect in faithful love.”