Today I want to talk about belief.
Specifically, I want to talk about how belief is the biggest barrier to change.
I realize that many of us are still believers or agnostic or atheists. So I want to be sensitive to that.
Therefore, I’m going to share my own story. I want to talk about this through the prism of my own experience and personal insight.
To me: I’ve come to the conclusion that belief actually prevents change!
I suggest this is true for many others as well.
Let me explain:
For the most part, I always seemed to find myself mentored by strong, bible-believing mentors and churches. So I suppose it was no accident that I went into the study of the bible, theology, and eventually the ministry. I made sure I studied under one of the most highly respected Old and New Testament scholars like Stuart, Kaiser, Scholer and Fee. I studied years of Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, and dived into the deep end of Reformed Theology with the likes of Calvin and Barth. Even to this day I am fascinated with theology. I just recently ordered a book about Hurs Von Balthasar and Karl Barth. The bible, theology and belief… unbelievably strong forces in my life, especially my intellectual and spiritual life.
But I also began noticing, early on, that there was another mind competing with this theological mind. Within me, I had struggling against each other a believing mind and a inquisitive mind. Conveniently, the church taught me that this struggle was between the carnal mind and the spiritual mind, the mind of the flesh and the mind of the spirit. It taught me that my temptation would always be to lean on my own understanding rather than to trust in God. It lectured me in how to listen to the Lord who is the Light rather than to Satan who disguises himself as an angel of light… something that sounds true but is actually counterfeit.
I noticed this alternative thinking bouncing against the walls of my belief system. Because, as we all know, it is belief that not only provides the foundation of our thought, but the walls and roof as well. My alternative thinking, my curiosity, my inquisitiveness, even sometimes my common sense, was bouncing bouncing bouncing off the hard solid walls of belief and continually falling back on itself in its padded room.
How I was taught to deal with it was by confessing, repenting, and seeking forgiveness, and making my belief stronger.
But what was actually happening was that the continuous assault of my alternative thinking against the walls of belief was slowly but surely expanding the walls of my belief. They were stretching. Like elastic. They were getting pushed out. My belief was growing as much as it could to accommodate my alternative thinking until it sometimes felt like it was going to snap.
Once in a while, though, an alternative thought was too strong for the walls of belief to resist, and it would break out and separate itself from my intellectual house of belief. What was I supposed to do with that? Nothing. I called it an anomaly. A mystery. I tried to comfort myself by saying that even though I don’t understand now, one day I will, and it will get integrated back into my belief system. These thoughts were like prodigal sons, rebellious and careless, but one day would come to their senses and return to the father’s house of belief.
This is the only way I could let this process happen and keep a clear conscience.
The very peace it promised eluded me.
Is it possible, I asked myself, that belief is keeping in fear and keeping out peace?
But then something traumatic happened. In 2010, I had a dream one night that exposed my intellectual house of belief for what it was: an illusion. It was completely false. A fabrication. A facade. This isn’t to say that everything about it was false, but that the system, the structure, the ideology as a whole, was limiting, oppressive, an expression of fear, and a block to my mind’s renewal. It was preventing me from changing!
Belief was actually dividing my mind rather than unifying it. It was causing a fissure in my thinking that was causing a fissure in my perception of what is. It was causing strife in my mind, my heart, and my world.
When I woke up that morning from my dream, the need for belief was gone. It’s life-line was severed and it bled out before my feet hit the floor.
Now there is an awareness. Just an awareness. An awareness of what is. A love for what is. There is no belief and then also knowledge. Now there is just a knowing. A knowing that is more like a loving. A loving of all that is.
And the peace I sought is there. It just is.
- If you are an atheist, then do you have anything to fear?
- If you are an agnostic, then isn’t the risk is worth it?
- If you are a believer, then wouldn’t God desire this for you?
Especially if it means meeting the most holy in the what is?
I hope this has been a helpful reflection for you.