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God Wants Me to Just Believe?

Isn't Christianity just a mindless religion?

What God Wants Most of All for You (7)

“God wants me just to believe, I guess.”

In one sense this is correct. It’s not what God wants most of all for you, but believing in Him is essential if we are to realize that. Without faith it’s impossible to know or please God, or to receive and enjoy the many good things He has for us.

But I sense in your comment a twofold caution. On the one hand, you seem to be saying, “God doesn’t want me to think for myself, just to believe whatever He – or His spokespersons – tell me to believe.” That’s an understandable concern.

On the other hand, and this is certainly a more admirable response, “You want me to believe that all God wants of me is just to believe?” As if “believing” were an act independent of anything else? Believe and nothing else?

You’re right to have some hesitation about this.

Let’s have a look at this, shall we?

By all means, believe
First, to repeat: God does want you to believe. But not just to believe. Rather, to believe in Him and His Word.

This shouldn’t be all that hard, since believing comes naturally to every one of us. You already believe, as we’ve previously observed. Everyone does. No one can know everything. So much of what we are and do flows not from what we know but from what we believe.

And many of the things people believe are simply the fruit of their own best thinking about life. They’ve looked around, considered the options, listened to the opinions of others, thought about things – maybe thoroughly, maybe not. They’ve turned over the possibilities in their minds, and then they’ve made some decisions about what matters in life and how they ought to pursue it. So they put their weight down on their own best ideas.

Taking their own thoughts and opinions as the best they can think of, they believe their mind/god. They have their reasons, of course, and those reasons make sense to them. But, in the end, they can’t know whether those hopes, aspirations, and ways of living are true and right. They just believe this is what’s best for them. They live by believing in their mind/god, just as the Christian lives by believing in the God of the Bible.

So you’re already believing in something which you regard as ultimate; and, yes, God wants you to believe in Him rather than in the best ideas of your own most earnest thinking. So just believing – believing in Him – is part of what God wants for you, but it’s not what He wants most of all for you.

Shelve your brain?
Now as to this idea that believing somehow doesn’t require thinking – that in order to believe we have to shelve our brains and, well, just believe.

I know it seems that this is the way certain members of the Christian community live. They don’t have opinions about critical social or moral issues. They haven’t read a real book for years. They don’t want to talk about why they believe what they believe. They can’t answer your sincere and serious questions, except to say, “Friend, you just have to believe.”

So it can, indeed, seem that those who have faith in God have parked their brains at the entrance to the Kingdom and don’t plan to use them too much.

I agree: That’s not a very appealing way to live.

But those who live this way are not being true to their faith. At least, they don’t really understand the life of believing in God.

The Christian worldview teaches that the mind is a very important component of the soul. Believers are called to think long and hard about everything, to learn as much as they can, and to bring their thoughts to bear on every aspect of human life and interest. The mind matters for those who truly believe, and to suggest that it doesn’t not only denies the plain teaching of the Bible, but the record of history as well.

After all, some of the greatest thinkers in all of human history have been believers in God. Besides the great theologians like Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Edwards, we could mention scientists – Copernicus, Watt, Newton, Linneaus – as well as artists – Rembrandt, Bach, Mendelssohn, Hopkins, Eliot – and even political thinkers – Locke, Burke, Kuyper, and so on.

Christian thinkers in all kinds of disciplines and fields have made good use of their minds over the years, bringing benefits of every kind to the human race and the world.

So if you turn from believing your mind/god to believing the God of the Bible, you won’t have to set your mind aside; in fact, you’re more likely to become more active in your mind as a result of receiving what God wants most of all for you.

Faith is not just believing
Then there’s this other matter, the idea that Christian faith means just believing and nothing else. It can seem that Christians cling to their naïve confessions – Jesus is Savior and Lord, I believe in Him, His Word is true, I’m forgiven and going to heaven when I die – without these confessions requiring any changes in their lives.

We have even seen prominent leaders within the Christian community whose lives in no way matched up to what they profess to believe, and yet they continue to believe, and many continue to serve in leadership roles.

So maybe just believing is enough?

And, if so, what’s the point? You rightly don’t want anything to do with such a worldview.

Neither do I.

The plain fact is that, as the Bible says over and over, those who truly believe don’t just believe. Believing changes everything – a person’s outlook, aspirations, and even his or her everyday life. When the focus of our faith changes from our own best ideas to God and His plans, purposes, and promises, it only makes sense that everything about the way we live is going to change as well.

And maybe this is part of what concerns you?

If you believe in God and Christ your life will change. Because really believing, as opposed to just believing, must certainly have implications for how you live.

And maybe you’re afraid that believing in God rather than in your mind/god will deprive you of some of the things you most enjoy?

We’ll look at this matter next.

Why do you think so many of the great thinkers of the past have been people who believed in God and Christ? What does this suggest about how God feels about the way we use our minds?

T. M. Moore
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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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