I recently did a Bible study on the book of Daniel where I was challenged to re-evaluate my beliefs and then write them down. One of the first lessons you encounter with Daniel has to do with the fiery furnace. I can remember the story from Sunday school as a child and now as it did then, it always prompts the question: would I, like Daniel’s 3 friends, be prepared to face the fiery furnace instead of bowing down to a false god? That’s a scary question. I’m afraid that I do bow down to the false gods of my own Babylonian culture without much conscious thought. It’s ingrained in me.
Maybe the question is difficult to answer because my beliefs have really never been put to such a test and probably never will be. I don’t live in a culture where I could literally die for my beliefs. But I do live in a culture that could suck the life out of me for them and so I worry about what I believe. I know beliefs are important. They define who I think I am and how I think about the world around me. But are there truly beliefs worth dying for, worth killing for, worth siding with the poor, the lost and the lonely for? It seems to me that belief does more to divide and conquer than it does to bring us together. I like the way John Mayer describes it in his song called “Belief”.
“We’re never gonna win the world
We’re never gonna stop the war
We’re never gonna beat this
If belief is what we’re fighting for”
So if belief isn’t what I should be fighting for, what is? What is worth standing up for instead of bowing down? I believe it’s based on the relationships we build and the love we share. Despite the advice to stick to what I believe in this essay, I find it so much easier to state what I don’t believe. I don’t believe in discrimination based on religious beliefs or political association or sexual orientation, gender, race or age. I don’t believe in war. I don’t believe in oppression. I don’t believe in genocide or ethnic cleansing or poverty.
So, what do I believe? I believe in evolution. I believe in miracles. I believe in faith and doubt. I believe in hope and peace and love. I believe that when I can somehow ignore what the world thinks is important and “think the same way that Christ Jesus thought,” I may then, on very rare occasions, briefly understand what Daniel’s friends understood and I will stand up instead of bowing down.
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