A word is a complete sentence in itself, and sometimes a paragraph. The prefixes have meanings that modify the words meaning, content, tense, use, points of view, and, oh, look…I’ve almost started a paragraph about the first few letters of a word. Then you have roots, suffixes, types, nouns, verbs, objects of the preposition, and on and on and on.
As a writer, I am limited by words. I know things that I cannot express, or explain with words. You cannot describe the color blue, to a person that has been blind from birth. There are many limits to words. Out of all this, my greatest limitation is the reader. I can write, but I have no control over how you process the information. We use (quite often) phrases like..”my bad”, “Don’t take this the wrong way”, “I misunderstood you”, “out of context”, and my favorite…”Oh, well why didn’t you just say that in the first place?”
People have the ability to assume things. Since I do mainly Christian blogs, and I teach theology, I want to talk, and teach about the word ‘belief’. This is the first installment in a series I am doing on your faith, that asks the question, “what is faith, and is it working for you?”.
If I told you that the word ‘belief’ is a loaded word, you could disagree. If I told you that all words are loaded, you might also disagree. Why is it possible to disagree about a word that has a clear definition, written in the dictionary? When someone makes a statement that someone else disagrees with, The disagreement doesn’t come from a fixed source. Think of the many reasons the disagreement could be due to, and you will find that the words themselves have nothing to do with the disagreement. The disagreement “seems” to come from difference in points of view, and personal preference. Steak is better than Chicken. No, Chicken is better. Don’t laugh, because while this disagreement may lead the people involved to a friendship, the same mechanics apply to disagreements that lead to wars.
To try to make all this relevant, I am aiming at the arguments between people in the Church mainly, but not exclusively. I am addressing the different denominations we have. I am addressing the reasons the Church is divided. I am addressing the fact that the Church has “a form” of Godliness, but no power. In my opinion, all disagreements, wars, or even friendships come about because of differences of meaning people assume about words.
The war is not because of differences in belief, but differences in the meaning of the word belief. The differences in the meanings of any and all words, is the reason we disagree on some things. Two things I would like to point out here, are the Tower Of Babel, and Jesus’ comment, “Think ye that I have come to send peace in the world? Nay, but a sword…” This is one of the most controversial statements made by Jesus. He seems to be saying He will pit us against each other, and if His aim is against peace, then what is His aim? Regardless of His aim, we do disagree.
This series is a long one, and I won’t do long installments, but I do hope you join in on the conversation. I will touch on ‘belief’ only briefly here. Belief is a funny thing. You can ‘believe’ something today, and wake up tomorrow and believe something else. You can even choose to believe in the opposite of what you believed the day before. There are b-zillions of people that say they believe in God, Jesus, or some other deity or religion. For now, lets just point out that belief, as we think of it, and use the word incorporates a choice. You can choose to believe in anything you want to.
I am addressing the word as Jesus meant it, and not how we use it. There are a lot of people that call themselves Christians, and say they believe in Christ. There are a lot of people that think they do believe. To explain this, I will use my own belief as an example. This next statement should put all the above in perspective for those that haven’t made a connection. (Words, assumptions, disagreements, and so on). This next statement I am about to make is both true, and will be misinterpreted, misunderstood, and I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts offensive to some…
“I am a Christian, but I do not believe in Jesus Christ”. STOP.
Okay, what do you think? STOP AGAIN. Please take a minute to think about that statement, and what it means to you, if indeed you want to boost your faith. I really don’t believe in Jesus, or the Gospel is real…
This statement is true, and I don’t believe in Christ. When Jesus says, “Those that come to me must believe that I am, and that I am a rewarder of those that diligently seek me” When he says you must “believe”, He does not mean wishful thinking. Most people confuse the two; belief, with wishful thinking, and even hope. Belief in Jesus is not hoping He is. Belief is not thinking He is. Belief is not assumption at all. Belief, as Jesus uses the word, is knowing.
I believe in gravity…
I believe in gravity, because I know it exist, and you won’t catch me too close to the edge of anything too high up in the air. I know that if I fall off of a rooftop, I will hit the ground. I don’t wishfully think this, and I don’t hope this. I know this. Therefore, I can say “I believe in gravity“, as our language is set up to use the word that way. But here’s the thing. If I make the statement, “I believe in gravity”, It is not exactly a true statement. I don’t believe in gravity, I have knowledge of gravity. There’s a big difference in knowing, and wishful thinking. Another one of Jesus’ statements comes to mind here. ” Depart from me, workers of iniquity, I never knew you”
I don’t believe in Jesus. I know Jesus. You can believe whatever you want to, but you can not wake up tomorrow and “believe” that you didn’t read this, because you know you did.
So in the first installment I just wanted to touch on belief, and say that our use of the word incorporates a choice, and Jesus’ use of the word does not. When Jesus says it, He wants you to believe in Him; He wants you to know Him. You see, I now have no choice. I can’t wake up tomorrow, and decide to “believe” that I have never met Jesus, because I have. You just can’t un-know something. If you know you read this, you will always know you did. You have no choice.