Thursday, August 14, 2014

What Difference Does It Make? --Linden Malki

"Why does what you believe have anything to do with how I live my life?"  This is the gist of a poster that popped up online recently, and it's a very basic question. Yes, each of us is ultimately responsible for what we do--but much of that is a response to what other people have done. Sometimes it is obvious who and what caused the situation we face; sometimes it is the result of a lot of things done by many people over time. We all affect each other-and want to influence each other. .

Turn the question around: how does what you believe have to do with my life? What others believe about truth and honesty affect me every morning as I open two locks, an iron gate, and turn off my alarm system, before I can get into my store. And it isn't just "lowlifes" that make a difference. The scar has pretty well faded by now, but when I was a lot younger and helping with VBS back in Spokane, the son of the lead teacher in the room was doing a project on the floor with a pair of pointed scissors, which he jammed point down between the straps of my sandals into my foot. The mom was a nice, well-meaning lady, whose belief in her child had a blind spot. It affected me in another way--my mom was very adamant about my company manners partly, she said, because she didn't want people hiding behind the furniture if they saw our family walk up to their door--like they did when they saw the kid with the pointy scissors.

The connection between belief and behavior is a basic issue especially for those who claim to believe in God. A recent survey indicated that very few Americans --about 2%--identify themselves as "atheists", though spiritual and religious behavoir is trending downwards. What surprised the writer who quoted this was that the rise of opposition to religion is not found as often scientifically sophisticated subcultures as you'd expect--the correlation is much stronger with people issues, particularly with politics, including church politics. Think about it--people do respond more heatedly to political and economic corruption and irresponsibility, particularly by those who claim religious belief. We are seeing in today's world too many people who use religious excuses for political ambition and power-seeking. The relationship  between what people claim to believe and what they actually do has a tremendous influence in what people think about God.

The other side of this coin is the spiritual power of people whose beliefs and understanding of God's word does make a difference, not only in their own lives, but in the lives of others. The church has survived because of God-followers who have influenced an amazing number of others spread in both place and time. Yes, what I believe, and what I do about it,  does have an effect on you--and with the help of God,  it will lead you to want to know how God created you to live, not to reject what you see of God in me.

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