Belief is more than simply saying you believe

Published 2:00 am Friday, December 15, 2006

By Staff
Mental assent to facts may be something we believe, but there is a tipping point when the things we know and accept move in and change the way we live.
Belief is core value. Core value orders our thoughts and behavior. If we say we believe something, but it is not evident in our life, it is not a belief.
It is said of the patriarch Abraham in the Old Testament book of Genesis, chapter 15, verse 6, "He believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness."
Abraham was given a promise at a point in his life when natural forces and ordinary circumstances would have made the fulfillment of the promise humanly possible. Abraham was promised a child through which a mighty nation would begin, and through those people all the promises and blessings of God would be fulfilled.
Time passed and no child was born to Abraham and his wife. Abraham jumped in to help God by first trying to elevate a trusted servant to be the promised seed (Genesis 15:2-4), and when God said no concerning the servant, Abraham had a child by Hagar, his wife's maid.
God said no regarding Ishmael, the son of Hagar, and insisted that Abraham and his wife would conceive and have a child just like God promised.
Paul speaks about the belief of Abraham in the New Testament book of Romans, chapter 4, verse 19, "Not being weak in faith, he [Abraham] did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb."
God gave a promise, waited until every human possibility had turned to impossibility, and performed the miracle of the birth of Isaac. Paul continues in Romans, chapter 4, verses 20-21, "He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform."
Abraham became convinced about God's promise-"contrary to hope, in hope believed" (Romans 4:18). There came a point when Abraham's faith moved to certainty.
Believing in God is not difficult when life is good, when we enjoy health and comfortable living. It is when health goes or the level of comfort diminishes that our belief system is tested.
We see all of this in the life of Job. Job feared God, was blameless, and was upright (Job 1:1). God held Job up to Satan as a shining example of righteousness. Satan challenged the sincerity of Job's righteousness by saying in Job, chapter 1, verses 9-10, "Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side?" Job was blessed and protected. He had freedom to live unhindered. Satan continued as recorded in Job, chapter 1, verse 11, "But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!"
We know the rest of the story. God did allow Satan to take Job's children and possessions, and then take his health. Job's belief system remained intact. It is said of Job in the book of Job, chapter 2, verse 10, "In all this Job did not sin with his lips."
Christians in America enjoy freedom and protection. Many have prospered. Will our faith survive opposition and persecution? What if our expression of Christian values begins to threaten our comfort or safety? There is no guarantee that this nation birthed in the concept of the freedom of religious expression will continue in that freedom.
We will not know if what we say we believe is really a core value until it is tested. Will we step out in faith, taking God at His Word to perform a Kingdom principle that is both inconvenient and risky from the human perspective?
Do we who claim to be the people of God look like the people of God, or are we simply hiding behind some convenient platitudes that soothe our conscience and allow us to go on in ease and comfort?