I have not always believed in belief. During my senior year of high school, I watched my home congregation of thirteen years tear itself apart over issues of believe. Our pastor angrily resigned, taking perhaps a third of the congregation with him, claiming that our church was wishy-washy and needed to figure out what we believed. I was cynical and angry about the whole ordeal. I began to think that beliefs, especially religious beliefs, were little more than little comfortable thoughts or myths that people told themselves. Believing, in my mindset, was just another word for thinking, except without the expectation to be reasonable, rational, or fair.
However, friends and family members have given me reason to find faith in the idea of belief. I have watched people lived lives transformed by “living faith–“ an organic, authentic faith that determines how they relate to others. My mother once expressed frustration when a friend said to her “I don’t even know what you believe!” My mother replied “You’ve known me for many years. You should know basically what I believe by the way I live my life.” It is to interpretation of belief that I now adhere– a belief of both words and action, within and without, doubt and passionate, even foolish hope.
It is within this framework of belief that I approach liberation theology. The long history of injustice and oppression can cause me to despair, and, in order to avoid falling into hopelessness and numbness, I need to believe in a number of things. I believe in the possibility of addressing some past wrongs. I believe that enslaved people can be liberated. I believe that the future can be better than the present and the past. Sometimes I believe these things with a great time of trepidation and hesitation, but I believe them in order that I may be pointed on a course that will add some sort of balance to the world. I will know how true and strong these convictions are by whether or not I live my life accordingly.
I am frequently sketchy, at best, as to my beliefs on God. Sometimes I wonder whether the word God has been too misused in order for me to find meaning in it. Yet, as before, I want my beliefs to be not a doctrine, but a trajectory for my actions. I want to live my life as though there is a greater order that is ultimately good. I want to live in the way of the Christ, even when my selfish nature cries out against it. I want to affirm that all people are children of God and deserve respect, love, and compassion. I want to live in a community of the faithful. I want to be part of the reign of God with the hope that this reign will someday be more fully realized. And so with these things in mind, I affirm that I believe in God, even when the sky seems silent and my mind cries out against it. When I understand beliefs as my relation with the world, I have the potential to believe even when I doubt, even when I am sure that God is impossible.
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