I'm not saying believing in Jesus is a linguistic anolmaly. I'm talking about the word "believe" . It's a common word. I know what it means to me experientially in terms of what I believe and what I don't but I'm not sure it means the same thing to everyone.
There's believing in someone when someone believes you can do it...probably what the song I mentioned is all about, or when your parent or teacher or spouse or friend believe in you.
There's that faith journey of believing that isn't just one moment in your life or one choice - it's all the moments and all the choices and, forward or backward, each step keeps you moving. Will each step take you closer to wherever it is you're going or will it take you farther away? If you have a goal and a deadline that's a pretty important question. If you're out for a recreational stroll and you're just enjoying the walk it might not matter unless you find yourself caught in a storm. Maybe what matters is the time you spend with the person you're walking with.
(You can also go back and read Scott's great comment about lines.)
Believing and little people (not fairies or leprechauns?) I'm thinking that being able to believe anything is a quality of childhood. Young children are both very literal and concrete so what they believe they take very literally - from faith to fairy tales to a parent's promise (until they trip enough times over the debris in the road.) And I think that interplay of concrete thinking and believing is a bit of a paradox when you consider that so many adults stop believing for grown up scientific reasons. Hearing the stories of scripture when you're little, you believe, you take them literally, you can let your imagination run. I propose that it's something God expects of us however old we are but it's one of those qualities that quickly disappears as most people grow older.
Do you believe that God has given you the ability to imagine? Do you think that there are ideas and issues that are more easily communicated through poetry and "fantastic" (as in fantasy) stories than through non-fiction or fiction with a lesson? They say highly intelligent creative children are drawn to young adult and adult fantasy (I'm not talking R and X here.) maybe because of the layers or the creative elements or for the ways it stretches your mind and makes you think or maybe just for the fun and escape from real life.
Is child-like faith literal? Simple? In some ways, yes. But the more mature might say that the older you get the more complicated life gets. The more complicated life gets the more complicated faith gets.
Maybe we should really stretch our creative brains and think about believing as multi-dimensional. We sat around the table one night when the kids were little and someone started a conversation and we slowly moved from Dad explaining one dimension to two dimensions, three dimensions and ended up somewhere around 6 or 7, I think. And up to that point the kids were with him. Even I was with him! What does that have to do with anything? I know and believe that God is that big but I'll check and see if Jesus said anything about 6 dimensions.
The childhood Belief Knot of literal and imaginary. . . Jesus talked about the literal stuff that we can all explain. Then He makes these seemingly contradictory "unexplainable" statements that we feel compeled to explain. Or we assume there must be something invalid about it because it makes no literal sense to us instead of saying, Gee! God said this and God said that so they must both be true! Lord God, stretch my understanding. That's what I mean. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.
Belief runs the gamut from child-like to becoming a man and putting aside childish things. That maturity was in the context of what some call the Love Chapter -significant I think. Having child-like faith to love. Interesting. It makes me think of children with Down's Syndrome.
What if the things that adults and children have to teach one another, come from watching, listening, and imitating not from what you get in a church classroom? Of course you have to be tuned in. Your have to be thinking like that, watching and listening and learning. But that's the question creative writers ask, "What if?" Maybe our Creator God asks that question, too . . .
(C) 2005 Margie Hillenbrand