Summary: Part 1 of a five-part series on the Trinity, this message deals with why it’s important to have specific beliefs about who God is and what he does, and how the Trinity provides us with that framework.
Part 1 of series, God in Five Weeks
Wildwind Community Church
Sept. 17, 2006
Ever heard someone say, “I’m spiritual and everything, I just have a problem with organized religion.” Remember these folks from last week?
So the first woman says if you want to get together and “talk about” your beliefs, you don’t have to do it in a church. Talk about your beliefs? How about learning to live by them? Of course she doesn’t see a need for the church. I mean, if all you do at church is talk about your beliefs, you can do that anywhere, right? Completely missing in action here is the notion that more important than believing something is living what you believe. And forget about the idea that it might be important, or even possible, to make sure you believe something that is actually correct.
The next guy said as long as you believe in karma you’ll be “fine.” What does “fine” mean? And what would “not fine” look like to this person? Again, it comes down to simply believing in something – for this last woman it was a vague set of “beliefs.” For this man it’s “karma,” which is the vague concept that what goes around comes around. Do you think if you were to probe him a little further he would be able to explain to you how karma works, or where he gets his conviction that as long as you believe in it you’ll be fine, or what is going to happen to people who do not believe in it? I doubt it, don’t you?
The third person said you don’t have to go to church to “prove” you believe in God. Is that what church is? The place where we prove to everybody in our lives that we believe in God?
All three of these people mentioned belief as they gave us our opinions. But specifically what do they believe in? Remember, the question simply was, “Do you attend church?” Technically the response is “yes,” or “no.” But we heard more than that, didn’t we? What we heard, folks, and I want to be careful here because I don’t want to brutalize these people who were willing to put their faces on camera so we’d have a clip to show in church, but what we heard was simply vacuous. There was no substance to anything those people said, yet they were telling us things about their own belief system. “I believe people don’t need to go to church to talk about their beliefs.” “I believe as long as you believe in karma, you’re okay.” “I believe you can believe in God but not have to go to church to prove it.”
Wow – we have just learned something about what each of these people believes. And we have seen two things. First is how completely off-base is their understanding of what church is. Second, and key to our discussion today, is that to these people, spirituality is vague – it can’t be pinned down in any way. Going to church pins it down too much. You shouldn’t have to go to church to talk about your beliefs or to prove you believe in God, and if you believe in karma, you don’t NEED to go to church. Apparently church is for all of us non karma-believers. (By the way, karma is a Hindu idea, not a Christian one).
What these people said about their own belief system is the spiritual equivalent of what Rodney King said. Remember Rodney King many years ago? Remember what he said after the furor surrounding his beating by the LA police? “Can’t we all just get along?” Let’s look at that for a minute. That is a statement that makes Rodney King sound like a really sweet, agreeable, nice guy. But of course it doesn’t mean anything because there is a correct answer to that question, and it is, “No! Of course we can’t get along – that’s why some cops beat the daylights out of you when you wouldn’t do what they asked. In fact, that’s why there are cops in the first place, because we can’t all just get along.”
It’s easy to say, “Can’t we all just get along.” It’s much harder to ask one’s self why one cannot get along with others. It’s easy to say, “If people believe in karma they’ll be fine.” It’s much harder to say, “What is karma, and how will karma make sure that I’m fine in the end, and what will be the destiny of those who are NOT fine?” It’s easy to say, “You don’t have to go to church to prove you believe in God or talk about your beliefs.” It’s a lot harder to say, “Perhaps I have nothing to prove, but much to become. Little to say, but much to learn. How are my beliefs helping me learn and become what I need to learn and become?”