I’ve just completed writing a Statement of Belief, listing things I believe are absolutely essential to me and my life. As I did so, taking time to reflect on each one and to ask myself if I really believed the statement to be true, I was struck by how it affected me to create this collection of beliefs in written form and to reflect on them.
With each one, I included the Scripture reference to validate the statement with Truth, sometimes having to search for the Scripture that best expressed the belief. And as I did that something happened within. The best way I can describe it is to say, “I felt ‘firmed up’ within. Probably a better way to express that is to say, “I was strengthened.” But actually ‘firmed up’ says it best.
If you’ve ever had to ‘shore up’ something that was leaning dangerously, or a building whose foundation is crumbling, you understand the feeling of making it steady again and firm.
And I was surprised. Everything I had written was a pretty obvious, traditional statement of accepted belief — no great ‘aha’s’, but as I pondered the feeling of surprise at how it affected me, I realized that we are in a daily, hourly even, conflict and struggle with beliefs that are in opposition to our commonly held American Christian beliefs. And this constant battle gradually erodes, not the beliefs, but the internal power of them. The courage they give becomes weaker. Truths are diluted. Sometimes doubt begins to enter in, and before you know it, what we believed was a firmly held truth begins crumbling and loses its effectiveness as a part of our foundation. Beliefs need the support of consistent reminders either through the written word or through others who hold the same beliefs.
Why is a statement of belief important?
This statement of belief is, perhaps better known as a personal worldview, and as such, it helps define you. By expressing what you believe to be true, you are setting healthy boundaries and eliminating what is untrue, and ‘not you’!
What does it do?
Besides creating healthy boundaries, knowing what you believe brings definition and purpose to life. For many years I knew some things that I believed and stood for, but was pretty fuzzy about others, and not having someone to guide me in my thinking, I simply took the easiest route and embraced what everyone else in my peer group believed, even when it didn’t feel like Me. And I made many mistakes which affected my life for a long time.
That which is ‘not you’ does not merit your time and attention, or consideration, and therefore does not clutter up your mind. Knowing your own worldview eliminates ‘second-guessing’ yourself. Whoever, or whatever, you believe to be the ultimate cause, source, or origin of anything, will determine your approach to that thing, whether it’s evil in the world, or a global pandemic, or where your child goes to school.
How does a Belief System serve us?
It simplifies decision making. Because we know what we believe to be true, and what our values are, choices are simpler. They either line up with our beliefs and values, or they don’t. If we embrace false beliefs about life and the world, we’ll find ourselves lost. We need the help of the One who created us.
How does it serve the kingdom of God?
It affirms the truth. Unifies those who believe. Because the kingdom of God is not a place to go to, but a reality that lives within us, it works its way outward through our thoughts, emotions, and actions into the circumstances and situations around us. That’s why we can truly say, “Thy kingdom, Come.” God is King. He dwells within us, changing us from the inside out, to bear His image more and more clearly. We then act as His representatives on earth, His ambassadors in this foreign land.
How does it serve others?
It strengthens others, encourages, points to the WAY. Models belief, purpose, and intentional action.
Does everyone have a statement of faith?
No, probably not, at least not one that’s articulated, but everyone has a belief system that drives them, guides them, governs them, motivates the choices they make, and the goals they set through life whether it’s acknowledged or not.
What if . . .?
What if you’ve made life choices based on faulty beliefs and you are living with the results or consequences of those choices? Are you doomed to live those out no matter how awful? Or is there a way out? The good news is, Yes, there is a way out! When we “come to ourselves” as the young prodigal son did, and realize that our choices have created a pigsty of our lives, we can do as he did. We can turn — turn to our Father, repent, and turn and go the other way . . . His Way. There are waymarks pointing us in the right direction and we have the Holy Spirit to guide us.
What do you believe? What beliefs guide your life? Mold your choices? Govern your decisions? Regulate your fleshly appetites? What beliefs identify who you are and who you are not? Write your Statement of Belief. Continue tweaking it until it truly defines you. Are you strengthened by reading it? Does it sound like just a bunch of nice things to say, or is it real and honest and true? Keep on until it is YOU and TRUE!!
Patricia Smith (c) 8/21/2020