Lenten Devotional: March 1st
We have looked at the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer and the NorthPark Charge. Today we turn our attention to the Apostle's Creed. We begin with "I believe in..."
At one level when we say "I believe" it can be something of a surface response.
You ask, "Did Brent ever tell Kelly that she was preaching this week?"
Someone answers, "I believe so."
This "I believe" is like saying "I think so, but I cannot guarantee it." The "I believe" we are talking about in the creed goes much deeper than this.
We might even say "I believe God exists." This could mean that we think something is true or that we are willing to discuss what we think is true. "I believe God exists" is what many people think of when they say "I believe" in the creed, but the "I believe" we are talking about in the creed goes even deeper than this.
Justo Gonzalez, a former professor of mine at Columbia Seminary, uses the image of a child willing to jump off of a ledge into her father's arms to explain the power of "I believe" in the creed. We say that the child is willing to jump because she "believes in" her father or because she trusts him.
"I believe" is not about giving intellectual ascent to a proposition (I believe God exists), it is trusting God with our heart, mind, and soul. It is giving our lives over to another. It is being willing to stake our lives on God, just as a child jumping off a ledge stakes her life on her father.
When we say "I believe in" it means that we are all in. When we say we are in a house we mean that our whole being is in it. Using an analogy from Gonzalez again, he says that when we live in a particular nation we do not just reside there or travel there. We have roots there. We have settled there. The story of the nation becomes our story. The nation provides the context for our lives.
In the same way, when we say "I believe in God" we are not just saying that God exists. It is saying that we find our roots in God. This is where we stake our lives. God's story defines out story. It is to say that in this God we trust and live; that this God is both the foundation and the context of our lives.
I invite you to think about the power in what you are saying the next time we begin the Apostle's Creed in church. Even more than that, I invite you to say to yourself "I believe in God" as you eat your meals and before you go to sleep this evening.
Know that each time you say it you are recommitting your life over to Holy God. Far more than saying that God exists, you are declaring your trust in God. Heart, mind, and soul you are recommitting your life over to God. As a child jumps into the arms of her father, you are once again jumping into the arms of God.
Rev. Brent Barry, Pastor, NorthPark Presbyterian Church