Ok, I’m going to start writing a new series about the “isms.” You know, the various belief systems that seem to define & explain the world…. and our place in it. Beliefs are the most important things about us, they literally control us. They’re like the operating system of your smartphone or computer; they determine the stewardship of your body, guide your passions, control your calendar, and counsel every decision you make. We tend to think that WE choose our beliefs, but I think in reality they most often choose US.
“Belief” is a highly misunderstood concept. In our pluralistic society, the concept of belief has been watered-down by post-modernity to the extent that its definition has morphed into something else. Belief in today’s world might be seen as synonymous with Preference…religious, moral, cultural, or political values that we prefer over other equally-true options….like Coke vs. Pepsi, post-modern belief is a matter of opinion. The problem is that when you try to take something essential and huge out of the human psyche, and replace it with something optional and minor, it wrecks the created intent of the system and leaves one shallow & wispy. What we see in post-modern America today is a belief-vacuum; where people have jettisoned the idea of objectively-true values in favor of more tolerant & politically-correct alternatives, only to end up actually believing in practically nothing to the extent that their instinctive saddles get filled with whatever gets their attention. Think about it.
- Why does the wealthy business owner go on lavish shopping binges when she already has everything she wants or needs?
- Why does the young man continue to drink, even after suffering damaged relationships with his colleagues, friends & family?
- Why does the teenage girl send dozens of selfies a day to social-media contacts she’ll never meet for compliments?
- Why does the husband & father steal nights & weekends from his family so he can go on high-risk adventures with the guys?
…Because of beliefs. Behavior ALWAYS Follows Belief.
- The binge-shopper may believe that a never-ending stream of new possessions bring happiness, that indulging in “retail therapy” will settle a desire that yearns for something deeper.
- The drinking-man may believe that he’s powerless to stop drinking, that his life is on a downward spiral, and that drunken escape is the only salve.
- The selfie-snapper may fear that she is ugly, and believes that the positive opinions of others will make her desirable.
- The adventure-seeker may believe that amazing experiences define his masculinity and meaning far more than relationships do.
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17)