My dear friend in Central Oregon, Jim Stephens, writes some profound things on his daily devotional. A few months ago Jim wrote that he was not going to use the word “awesome” anymore, except to describe God. Jim's commitment on personal vocabulary is such a wise word in a world where we say, “I love hot dogs and baseball” in the same breath that we say we love God or our family. In our haphazard use of words we sometimes dilute their true meaning.
A few months ago I had a conversation with someone who was in a meeting where the person leading the service was moving in a free and bold approach to God. Physical healings were taking place and people were being set free – some people even fell over under the power of God.
When God moves in unusual ways sometimes people will say, “I don't believe in that!” They might be focusing on the style of what is taking place and not the substance of what God is actually doing. We all do this from time to time. When something different is happening around us that is new and maybe even uncomfortable, we want to find a place to position that experience so we can deal with it. Sometimes we say, “I don't believe in that!,” but really we are saying, “I am uncomfortable.”
Today, I have been processing how to respond better to people when they make such comments. The next time someone says to me, “I don't believe in that!” I would like to be more nurturing in my response. Maybe I could respond with words like these, “You just said that you don't believe in what you just saw. Maybe we should reserve the word 'belief' for things that deal with the person of God, His Son, the Holy Spirit, and the way of salvation. Maybe our use of the word 'believe' is getting confused with what we like, don't like, or even feel comfortable with.”
As I reread some of the Early Church creeds recently, the authors were wise enough to keep the creeds simple and focused on God and His Church instead of linking “belief” to personal preferences that can be jaded with our fears and human experience, or the lack of.
Just a thought.