Does it matter what you believe? Does what you believe actually impact your life?
If you find an unmarked bottle of liquid in your cupboard – there are many possibilities of what it could be. It could be water. It could be bleach. It could be vinegar. They all look pretty much the same. You could believe that it could be any of those.
But does it matter what you believe? Will your belief about the contents of that container effect how you choose to use it? And will those choices, based on those beliefs, impact the course of your life? It certainly could!
“If you drink bleach, it oxidizes or burns tissues in your mouth, esophagus, and stomach. According to the National Institutes of Health, it can cause nausea, chest pain, lowered blood pressure, delirium, coma, and potentially death.” ~ somewhere on the internet…
Does it matter what you believe?
Of course it does! And all day every day, we make choices based on our beliefs.
If we believe that it’s going to be -40º outside today, you’re going to wear a warm coat and mitts and boots and all that stuff. If you believe that it’s going to be +40º today, you’re going to wear shorts and a t-shirt.
We are continually making choices based on our beliefs – and those choices, based on our beliefs are setting the course for our lives.
So what happens if your beliefs are wrong? What happens if you believe that you have a bottle of water – and it turns out that it’s a bottle of bleach? What happens if you believe that it’s going to be +40º but it turns out to be -40º?
It’s a serious problem to have incorrect beliefs. The course of your life can take a serious turn for the worse in a quick hurry!
I think it’s pretty obvious how important it is to have true beliefs.
And if it’s that important to know the truth about the weather or the truth about the contents of this container – how much more important is it that we have true beliefs about God?
I ran across a video clip that was on ABC news a few years back and it talked about how these researchers had discovered that American’s have four different basic views of God and how those different views of God impacts everything those people do. This clip is from 2010, and it is american so the numbers are probably a little more generous in the states than they would be in Canada about our beliefs in God, but the impact of those beliefs would be same. Have a look…
Did you catch the last statement from that researcher? He said “A person’s conception of God is central to how they perceive their world and behave in it.”
And I would completely agree. How we view God, what we believe about God, will shape nearly every decision we make in life.
As a country it shapes what laws get made and what wars we fight. As individuals it shapes how we interact with our neighbours, it determines how we date and choose a life partner, it determines how we raise our kids, it plays a big part in what activities fill our days. It may even impact what job we take or where we live. What we believe about God will shape nearly every decision we make in life.
But here’s the problem. The world in which we live does not offer us much truth about God. Well, actually, that’s not entirely true. The physical world around us does tell us a lot about who God is. Biology, chemistry, physics, as we look at the world around us, we can find a lot of truth about who God is. But as far as the people in the world go – our society – our culture here in Canada in 2016 – what we hear in the news or what we learn in school or what we hear in music or film – all of those things do not offer us much truth about God.
This week I read through MTV’s top ten film portrayals of God. And I tell ya, if that’s what the world uses to paint their picture of who God is, no wonder they think Christians are crazy to follow a God like that. Even their choice of actors says a lot about their view of God. Just to give you a quick sampling, in one film Will Ferrel was “god” – in another Alanis Morissette was “god” and the one that got me was a fellow I had never heard of before, but apparently he was a regular on the Howard Stern show – his name was “Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf”. That’s who played ‘god’ in this one particular movie.
Wow. That’s how they see God? If that’s how they see God, how is that going to impact the decisions they make every day?
Our friends and neighbours have been told time and time again first of all that God’s non-existent. And if God exists (which they seriously doubt), but if He does exists, it’s pretty clear that He’s a killjoy, He’s judgemental and angry. Either that, or he’s so far removed from us that it doesn’t matter who He is.
And a lot of their information comes from people who claim to be His followers! As Christians, as “Christ-ones” we are to be the image of our God. The people around us are drawing their conclusions about who God is by watch you and I.
So what does that say about us and how well we represent our God when they choose “Hank the angry drunken dwarf” to portray our God in the movies?
Do you see the problem here?
If that’s how they see God, if those are the beliefs that are shaping their day-by-day decisions – which in turn shape the course of their entire life… Man! Our world is in serious trouble!
Satan, our culture, and sadly, sometimes even those who claim to be Christians, have done a good job of making sure that the people around us want nothing to do with Christians or their God.
That’s the bad news. But don’t worry – I’ve got some good news too!
One of my favourite verses is Psalm 34:8. And over the past several months as I’ve been thinking about our church and our community and what kind of purpose God has for us here, this verse has just been coming back to me time and time again. It says…
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Psalm 34:8
More and more every day I am convinced that this is our job here in Penhold. The Penhold Church of Hope exists to help people taste and see that the Lord is good.
Our friends and neighbours in the communities around us have been fed a lot of distasteful, incorrect information about God. And I think most of the time when people reject God, it’s not really God that they are rejecting. It’s their false beliefs about God that they are rejecting.
If my view of God was formed by “Hank the angry drunken dwarf” or by some uncaring, judgemental Christians, yeah, I’d probably reject that God too!
We talked a little bit this week during our kids club about Adam & Eve’s first sin. And I believe their decision to disobey God was directly because Satan fed them mis-information about God. He led them to have an incorrect belief about God and that’s why they chose to disobey Him. Let me show you… Genesis 3:1-6
The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
Pause here for a second. Notice what the serpent did. He just planted the belief in Eve’s mind that #1. God is a liar and #2. that God was not good – God was keeping them from good by not letting them eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and becoming like God.
Up until this point, for as long as Adam & Eve believed the truth about God – that God was good and that He was telling the truth – Adam and Eve had no problem obeying God. They were eager and more than willing to obey a good God who loved them like crazy. Why on earth would they do anything else?
But as soon as they choose to believed the lie about God, that’s when they rejected God. That’s when they choose not to follow Him.
6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.
The woman was convinced. They believed the lie. It’s only when we have a false belief about God do we choose to reject Him. In fact, you could look over the entire course of human history and every sin that anyone has ever committed – you could trace that back to a false belief about God.
That God is not good, or God is not able, or God is not just, or God is not true, or what ever it is. Every sin can be traced back to a false belief about God.
You can even try it for yourself. Think of some sin that you’ve committed – maybe something this week. Maybe something years ago. Maybe one of those sins that you seem to struggle with constantly. But then ask yourself, what false belief about God did I buy into that led me to sin in this way? For some things it might be very obvious – for others you might have to dig a little bit. But I guarantee you, at the root of every sin is a false belief about God.
So you can see why it is sooo important that we have true beliefs about God. Our beliefs determine our decisions – and our decisions set the course for our life.
So I think this verse in Psalm 34:8 is exactly what we need to do. And I think we can apply this both to our personal lives and to our mission as a church as well.
Personally, we need to taste and see for ourselves that the Lord is indeed good. We need to make sure that we know the truth about who God is and what He’s like. Knowing the truth about God will complete change our lives.
Imagine what your life would be like if you knew for certain the truth about God’s goodness. (That’s just one aspect of who God is….) But what if you never, for an instant, doubted God’s goodness? What would you worry about? What would you fear? What situation would you encounter where you felt you had to take matters into your own hands? If you knew that God is always, completely, and absolutely good – why would not completely trust Him?
The more we are convinced of the truth about who God is and what He’s like – the more and more we will have absolutely freedom to just to follow Him.
There’s a verse in John 8 that often gets quoted – you may have heard this before. Jesus said…
“And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
This week as I’ve been studying all this, that verse came to my mind and it suddenly just made so much sense. “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
When you know the truth about God – it is such a relief. There is so much freedom. God is good. God does love me like crazy. God is sovereign. God is eternal.
Knowing those truths doesn’t leave me much to fret about, does it? Knowing those truths doesn’t give me much reason to act outside of God’s will. Why would I? Why would I go against a God who loves me so much – who wants so much good for me? Suddenly, sinning doesn’t even make sense.
But yet, that’s often what we find ourselves doing a pretty regular basis, don’t we? We’ve know these truths about God – at least we have the head knowledge of them, but we still sin.
Perhaps we don’t truly believe what we think we believe. Or perhaps, I think as we’ve seen with Eve and the serpent, Satan does a pretty slick job of making us doubt the truths that we know. He’s always around to feed us those lies – to make us question what we know to be true.
That’s why is so important that we are constantly reminded of those truths. We seem to forget it so quickly. The writer of Hebrews warns us…
“So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.” Hebrews 2:1
It’s so easy to drift away from the truth. We need those constant reminders. We need to be daily in His Word. Maybe you’ve read it 10 times before, great! Read it again!
Paul tells his protege, Timothy, in the 2 Timothy 3:14 – and this is after years of teaching Timothy the truth…
But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
2 Timothy 3:14-17
God’s Word is where we find the truth about God. I encourage you to taste and see that the Lord is good. Read His Word. Get to know who God is and what He’s like.
Don’t just listen to hollywood. Don’t take it from “Hank the angry, drunken dwarf.” Find out for yourself.
Find out what God says about Himself in his Word – and then try living according to what He says.
I think that’s the coolest part. When we become convinced that God is good and that God is sovereign and that God is just and that God does love us like crazy – and we start living like that, the difference it makes in our lives is tremendous!
And when our lives are transformed by the truth of God, that’s when the world around us takes notice. That’s when they have the first opportunity to taste and see for themselves that the Lord is good.
For so many people, they’ve had so much mis-information about God – the things that they’ve “tasted and seen” of what they thought was God was so terrible – there’s no way they’re going read that God’s Bible. They’re not going to any of that God’s churches.
But when they have a neighbour or a friend or they hang out with some random people who put on kids clubs or youth groups, and perhaps for the first time in their entire lives, they get a true taste of who God is by hanging out with us…. It might just change their appetite.
Now that’s sure not to say that we’re perfect, cuz we’re not. We’re still working to acquire the full flavour of God ourselves. But the more we taste and see that God is good – the more we know and live according to the truth of who God is, the more we are able to the help the people around us taste and see for themselves that God is indeed good.
So to help us with that, for the next few weeks, the theme of our Sundays will be “Taste and See”. I’ve good a few cool things planned to remind us all over again just how good God is and my hope is that this will become our mission for this next year. That in everything we do, not only we would strive to taste and see for ourselves the truth about God, but that through us, through our kids clubs, through our youth groups, through our Sunday mornings, through our games nights, through whatever we do – we would help the people around us taste and see that the Lord is good.