Today I have to teach a confirmation class about what is called a Statement of Faith. If you are not familiar with what that is, then it is pretty much what it sounds like. I am supposed to help them see how important a statement of faith is and encourage them as they begin writing their own statements for graduation. I am glad to be doing this because I think that statements of faith are important if you are going to worship in a community. For years I worshiped in churches without thinking anything about their statements of faith. I was basically living under the assumption that we all generally believed similar things since we were all Christians and all presumably read the Bible. However as I got older I realized that my relationships, experiences, exposures, and meditations illumined the scriptures for me differently than they did for others in my churches.
Without getting too much into it, I started to see that in many places my authentic experiences with Christ were not welcome unless they substantiated what I was “supposed to believe” based on the agreed statement of the church. After a break from church for a while, I decided that I would look online at what churches said they believed before I opened my mouth in public. I found that in most cases, I could be happy in relatively any community if I stayed in the pews and kept my mouth shut on hot button topics on what it means to have faith in Christ. However, when I got to the point where I could no longer resist the call to ministry, I knew that I had to be willing to speak the church’s/denomination’s statement of faith authentically. Hence, I find myself in the United Church of Christ. Essentially I need to preach in a setting that honors spiritual liberty, because I choose to believe that you cannot get to know another without freedom to do so and I think God has created us to know Godself. That’s the short and skinny of it. That being said, while I feel absolutely comfortable with speaking the UCC Statement of Faith and honor what it means to the denomination, it does not fully express my personal convictions. So in preparation for the confirmation class I wrote up what my personal statement of faith would be if I were to present it today. Mind you that there are specifics in what I choose to believe that are not laid out here, but fall under at least one of these umbrella statements listed.
For anyone who thinks that by my stating what I believe, I am implying that a “real Christian” must agree with me or believe the same thing, you will notice that I have prefaced each statement with “I choose to believe”. I believe that everyone chooses what they believe whether it is for ill or for gain. I have experienced this in life and have seen it reflected in the wisdom of many scriptural traditions. However, I have chosen to focus my spiritual walk on aligning myself with the Christ because it fits appropriately with my personal efforts and struggles as a finite expression of being attempting to embody what I CHOOSE TO BELIEVE is God’s intent for humanity. Ultimately these statements that I am expressing are born of my personal relationship with God. I do not require, nor do I expect anyone to agree with them, whether they are of my church, denomination, or even a fellow Christian of any persuasion. I also choose to believe that approval addiction is the bane of human existence. I honor Christ first and foremost for his willingness to stay the course of his faith in, with, through, and ultimately as the embodiment of God’s fullness and that he did not rely on the limits of human reason and understanding. With that said, I have chosen to make my life a meditation on his example and to go where that leads me. I am not concerned with success, right belief according to other’s perceptions, or even heaven. My joy is in doing the work itself. If you cannot understand this, you will not understand the context from which the below statements emerge for they come out of the conscious choice to live by FAITH as I choose to believe we were intended for. Faith is my reward for faith. Do I deserve some other reward for doing what I believe I was created for? I think not. What I receive is from God’s grace while I remain unprofitable.
Luke 17:5-10 – Faith and Duty
5 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
6 So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 7 And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? 8 But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. 10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”
The Roofless Church’s Statement of Faith
- I choose to believe that there is a God within Whom the infinitude of Creation is conceived and through Whom all of Creation is expressed (per Acts 17:22-29)
- I choose to believe that there exists no dimension—real or imagined—where God is not and that God is so Absolute that the fullness of God’s Being is permeating and fulfilling all that is eternally, from the invisible, imperceptible, and most fleeting thought vibration to the most solid constituent of matter imaginable (per Psalms 139:1-12)
- I choose to believe that while humanity is incapable of articulating the fullness of God, we have known it and can comprehend it again through faith and the help of the Holy Spirit and that it is for this purpose that we are being created and recreated continually—to consciously experience the joys of God’s fullness in Creation and to be it. (per Ephesians 3:14-19)
- I choose to believe that Jesus Christ is the achievement of God’s sole intention for humanity (per Colossians 2:8-10) and that we are each capable of this achievement and that this can be facilitated through the faith that Jesus has done it already(per John 14:12-14)
- I choose to believe that it is through infinite humility that the Christ represented in Jesus is redeeming humanity and all of Creation and so he can be trusted with the full authority of God for which we are all intended (per Philippians 2:5-11)
- I choose to believe in the implications that for our sake God is being revealed in Christ through shared suffering so that we can better relate to God through Christ. (per Hebrews 2:14-18)
- I choose to believe that we have no excuse for our seeming inability to embody Christ consciously and that it is based on our deliberate decisions for the desires of self above relationship with God who is showing God’s Whole Self to us in every moment. (per Romans 1:20-23)
- I choose to believe that despite our resistance to and denial of the Christ at work within us and beyond us, God’s love is so great that in the midst of our denial, God’s love is not diminished. This is grace. (per Romans 5:6-11).
- I choose to believe that the way that we accept this grace is to give it in return by loving one another as Christ loves us. (per John 15:9-17)
- I choose to believe that the Christian path is a path of consciously living from Oneness which includes continually striving to love the world God loves as God loves it no matter how many times we fail. Success is not guaranteed and yet paradoxically, failure is not an option. (per Matthew 5:43-48)
- I choose to believe that when we have been enlightened to God’s loving work in, with, through and beyond us by way of the Holy Spirit and yet choose to live as if we are not aware and cease working, then we embody those very beings who are still crucifying the Christ in Jesus, in others, and in our very selves and that there is no greater suffering than knowingly denying the Oneness and Love of God for all of Creation and its many expressions. This is the way that leads to death. (per Hebrews 6:1-8)
- I choose to believe that Life in relationship with God is abundant and that if we are experiencing it as otherwise it is because we are looking to ourselves rather than God. (per Isaiah 55)
- I choose to believe that God loves us so much that we have been irrevocably granted the opportunity to choose what we believe that we may know God directly and intimately (per Deuteronomy 30:11-20).