How conscious does BELIEVING need to be?

When we first read this question, it is likely that a fairly strong answer will go off in our minds.  Some  might say that we must have a full knowledge and confidence of Jesus in order to truly believe. John 3:18 says that those who do not believe are condemned already.

Most of Christianity and the differences between the traditions surrounds this very question.  One version says you just need to be in church and your good. Others wind it so tight that are certain that many who claim to follow Christ are not even “real” Christians.  Each church has what it believes is the secret sauce.

One sees belief as wide and inclusive, another sees it as narrow and exclusive. Both have scripture to back up their case.

This points to the problem of dualistic thinking. Modern thinkers are black and white, on or off, good or bad, in or out. Gray areas become confusing. But perhaps the biggest issue is that gray areas make it hard to have unity within a group. Thus churches like to create “position papers” to outline their stance on things. It keeps order among the masses, but it’s really just preference.

The beauty is that believing is on a continuum. It is a spectrum that is as narrow as Jesus and it is as wide as the universe.  The rich young ruler in Luke 18:18 was so proud of his belief and was met face to face with unbelievable narrowness. While the woman caught in adultery in John 8:3 was met with the most inclusive welcome despite her lack of belief and despite what the religious establishment had already determined.

What if we are only asked to live in conformity to the faith we possess? No more. No less. It is not about whether we are able to make it over some externally imposed threshold of belief. It is whether we are honest enough with ourselves to believe at some level at all.

When I coach people, I often have to show them the defeater beliefs that they possess and which limit their progress in life. Most have no idea about them until pointed out. Likewise, it is also possible to have a vague, yet sincere belief that the love of God will do the right thing, even if one has never put much thought around it.

Belief is not dualistic. It is not present or absent, strong or weak, hot or cold. True belief resolves itself into a much higher third perspective because it is the only possible response to God’s fullness and completeness, from which we all receive grace upon grace. (John 1:16)

Christians who blaspheme?

Blasphemy is one of those terms that people either ignore because they could care less if they did it, or they wake up and take an inventory because they don’t want to be a person who desecrates anything.

So what exactly is it called when someone takes an act of God and diminishes it by calling it something else or attributing it to something else?  Of course this is understandable when someone who doesn’t come from a faith based perspective, where the  existence of God is not their presupposition.

This post is for those who do at least have the minimal belief that there is something more to life, that there is a God and who are free to acknowledge that life is not confined to those things that are empirically based. In such people, we can see amazing works take place in the spiritual or non-physical dimension. People learn humility. They decide they really want to be a better man or woman, mom or dad. They seek out transformation. They grow to overcome addictions and destructive behaviors. They mature to a place where they truly love other people and desire to help them. In my mind these are not small human achievements, they are the work of God and the evidence of the work of his spirit, regardless of who is doing them. The source of all goodness is God, that is who he/she is.

So often I hear Christian people create a distinction when they see positive changes taking place in the lives of non-Christians. For example, when the Buddhist shows more compassion than the local church goer, or when the Atheist was more willing to lend a helping hand to the stranded people, or when the Yoga instructor gave generously to the poor.  In these cases, Christians have said that while these things are good things, and these people are doing good works, these works are not God’s work, and these gestures are merely the work of man. I’ve even heard them tell me that because they are not Christians, then God sees these works of the heart to be evil, stating that without Christ all human deeds are evil.

Really? It’s evil to sacrificially give to the person in need? Isn’t this the essence of the story of the good Samaritan? Isn’t the true neighbor, the “non-religiuos” (Samaritan) doing the right thing for the right reasons?

Which begs the question: If the contemporary works of modern “good Samaritans” are good, doesn’t it go without saying that they are the work of Christ? Isn’t it blasphemy of the Holy Spirit to diminish the work of Christ’s spirit and attribute it to something else?  How is the Christians’ refusal to see these works of others as Christ’s work any different than the Atheist refusing to see things for anything other than matter and motion?

I would like to see even one person who is a believer in Jesus tell me that the work of the Spirit did not begin in their life until they were a believer. In fact isn’t the contrary what happens? That cosmic Christ works in our lives, calling us, inviting us, being patient with us, convicting us, and drawing us in long before we ever come to faith.  If so, then how can someone make a determination that one good work is Christ’s while the same work from another person is not?

The work of the cosmic Christ is everywhere. Once a person has eyes to see it, they can’t unseen it. The goodness of the world is simply the hand of Christ retelling his story in the lives of men and women all over the globe.

In the end, Jesus tells us that the righteous are those who have no idea they were doing the work of Christ. He was thirsty and they gave him drink and they didn’t know it was for him. (Matt 25:27)  Meanwhile there are people doing all kinds of religious things, thinking they are doing God’s work and in the end Jesus tells them that he has no idea who they are and tells them to get lost because they are workers of iniquity. (Matt 7:21).

Perhaps, this is why the blasphemy of the holy spirit is unpardonable: Namely, that those who do not have the eyes to see him working in the diversity of others, will find nothing in heaven that they truly desire. Their only home is in a world of harsh judgement, criticism, and condemnation.