Saturday, July 7, 2012
DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE?
They were there to learn how to share their faith.
My host had opened with a Bible text
and a brief prayer, followed by a hymn,
which they sang with zest, a few announcements,
and then his most kind introduction of
yours truly, the morning workshop leader.
I began by asking the question which
I have often asked of church groups like this:
"How many of you who have come today
believe in God?" Their reaction was quite
typical ---"amazed" would be a good word
to describe their common reaction to
my question, or better, bewilderment,
as if to say, "You can't be serious!
Of course, we believe in God! Otherwise,
why would we be here?" No one said a word
or even nodded. So I asked again:
"Do you believe in a personal God?
I mean, do you really believe in God?
Raise your hand if you do." They realized
now that I was completely serious.
Simultaneously all raised their hands.
"Wait a minute," I said. "I wonder if you
heard the question? What I am asking you
is this: Do you really believe in God?
The hands went up even faster this time.
"Wait! You didn't hear the question. I ask
again: Do you really believe in God?
Have you no doubts at all? Are you sure there's
a personal God, a God who listens
when you pray and who answers your prayers?
A God who responds to you, and to whom
you are responsible? A God who knows
your deeds, thoughts, hopes, fears, desires, intentions?
Who demands your complete obedience,
your total loyalty --heart, mind and will?
Who is Creator, Redeemer, and Lord
of the universe and your personal
Lord and Savior? Do you really believe
in a God like that?" They sat motionless
for a moment, and then some hands were raised.
Not every hand went up, and those that did
were raised more hesitatingly this time.
Reality was setting in at last.
After a moment I said, "Let me ask
another question: Does the way you live
reveal that you really believe in God?"
Not one hand was raised. They sat silently.
"If you answer the question too quickly,"
I went on, "You haven't heard the question!"
That's why I have to think each time I say
that I believe in a personal God,
because I know how often my actions
deny my words. Even so, I can say,
with all my heart and soul, and so could they,
"I know that I really believe in God!"
To say that, does not mean I have no doubts
or that I'll never do something for which
I'm sorry or ashamed. To say that I
believe is not to claim that I've arrived.
I'm still struggling to be faithful, like the
man who said to Jesus, "I believe; help
my unbelief." That's why I'll always think,
before I raise my hand ---and so will they!