What do we believe and why do we believe it? In our society, conflicting beliefs about climate change, the value of individual life, and how to help the disadvantaged provide fuel for arguments, protests, and gridlock in legislative assemblies. A multitude of religious groups voice a cacophony of doctrines, rituals, and methods to meet spiritual needs, while atheists and agnostics scorn religion.
We often believe what we believe because people we trust or organizations we respect have taught us those beliefs. We trust them, so we accept what they give us. Several of our members come from families who have worshiped with churches of Christ for multiple generations. Others heard what our preachers proclaimed or our members taught with initial doubt, then after consideration and varying degrees of inner struggle, converted to what for them was a different system of beliefs. Many were as the Bereans were when they heard the teachings of Paul about Jesus, searching the scriptures (and whatever reliable evidence was available) to see whether these things were true (Acts 17:11).
In 2017, our congregation will focus on “sharing faith.” This focus will include evangelism, but quite urgently will examine what we believe and how our identifying ourselves as Christians should influence how we speak, act, and treat others. We will focus on how sharing faith builds bridges between generations and heals fractured friendships. We will ask what it means for us to believe in a God who wants us to be holy as he is holy. We will pursue this focus in the context of renewing hope and practicing love, remembering the words of 1 Corinthians 13:11: “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”