In today’s world, believing has become synonymous with having an opinion and I simply don’t have one anymore. To explain: After reading a slew of authors who are professed atheists and some agnostics, I have finally concluded that a belief in God gives an unclear sound to those who would not listen to it. What I am trying to say is: What I think or believe carries little value to most people, and in a day of scientific deductions, my voice is all but mute. People either believe on their own without the aid of my reasoning or they go into verbal attack mode. Either way, I seem to have nothing of any value to add to the conversation.
When I pastored, parishioners wanted my thoughts to support theirs or else I heard about it later in board meetings. Occasionally an honest soul would confront me after the service. Some people became genuinely enraged at the very idea that I would expose them in a sermon when, in all honesty, I had no such thought or intention. And I was strongly advised—even warned—not to put my thoughts on paper. That was not without wisdom which I discovered in a few outgoing letters.
I am low on the totem pole of believability. In the food chain of political appetite for debate I am the one-celled nothing that everyone else chews up and spits out. I remarked recently to my lovely bride that I would rather retire completely from public life than to endure one more verbal assault for something I didn’t say or didn’t even think to say. I quit trying to explain myself to others when, for reasons I cannot understand, my audience is hearing things I am not saying. I am frankly tired of trying to explain me while the world is poised to pounce on me.
In counseling, which now becomes the only type of relationship I have anymore with people, I simply listen and give them opportunity to discover life, rather than my pointing it out to them. If my witness or “wisdom” is of no value to others, is it any wonder, I have nothing further to say? The bigger question, however: Is what I believe of any value to me? I find that if it isn’t worth sharing why hold on to it?
Maybe my beliefs don’t serve me publicly, but what about privately? Isn’t my faith tied to what I think is true or right? Isn’t my dialog with my own heart worth value to me? King David encouraged himself in the Lord. [I Samuel 30:6]
Well, frankly, my mind doesn’t work that way. I need proof. I need to confirm belief. I need to validate faith. I am not a religious guy and church can only mean something to me if I can see some value in the experience. If church going, for example. is worth the effort, I need to miss it when I don’t go because it is now absent from my life and it was necessarily a part of my peace or happiness. So, just accepting an idea because it comes from authority or even from the Bible is not enough for me. I need to conclude—deduce—that it works for me. I need to be able to say with resolute confidence, “This is not my belief or just my opinion; this I know!”
So, you can see that just blindly accepting an idea on faith isn’t the same to me as accepting it by faith. This approach doesn’t fit the paradigm that is me. Faith is not merely belief. Hebrews 11:1 It is EVIDENCE! Faith in God gives a more distinct sound—and loudly—that God is real and He loves me. Faith can review the same arguments put forth by atheistic scholars and see these points as proof of the reality of a loving God rather than a denial of His existence.
Faith in God to me is very personal, though. I cannot convince you or anyone of anything, and my day for trying is over. My knowledge of God and His Word is very real to me and it is based on decades of intense bible study, of focused prayer, of living for God and then breaking the rules and letting the tempter have a crack at me only to have another crack at him.
So, never tell me to just believe. You have no interest in my opinion anyways. I don’t believe anymore!
I know! I have a clear sounding and resounding voice of conviction that carries an undeniable assurance in a loving God and a hope of His return for me.