Today’s Reading: “I believe in God, The Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord. Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day, He rose again. He ascended into heaven. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit. The holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins.”
As we come ever closer to the end of our blog series on The Apostles’ Creed, we now find ourselves at what, I call, the crossroads of The Creed.
You see, from the very the beginning, where we say that we believe in God, the Father Almighty, and agree that Jesus of Nazareth is God’s only Son, and that the Holy Spirit has come to indwell and empower us, His Church, we now find ourselves at the crucial point of practicality. In other words, we’ve arrived at the place in The Creed where the honest skeptic can, and probably should, ask this very blunt question…
In truth, it’s one thing to go through this life believing in something or someone, but it’s a whole other thing to know that there are practical consequences or action points related to what we believe. In other words, I can choose to believe that Santa Claus exists, but the true proof is in the pudding. If my mom and dad don’t put presents under the tree on Christmas Eve, would gifts still arrive just because I believe in St. Nick?
So, it is with believing in God, and so it is with all of us who call Jesus our Savior and are part of His global Church. There must a practical benefit to believing in the Divine in order for it to have a true significance in the lives of those who believe.
Which now brings us to the core benefit of Christianity. The gift that keeps on giving. The one element that is the true game-changer in this life and the next:
The forgiveness of sins.
Let me explain it this way.
In the beginning (as Genesis 1 describes it), God, the Almighty Father, created the heavens and the earth. And after all the beauty of this cosmos was commanded into being, God brought forth His masterpiece. Mankind was birthed into existence, and as the writer of Genesis describes it, God looked at what He had just created, and called it Good. Very Good, indeed.
Now, when we flip over two chapters, to Genesis 3, we find that this Very Good Creation called Man and Woman have decided, through the help of some outside recommendations, to take life upon themselves, making personalized choices outside of the wisdom and discernment of their Creator. Like all children, there is a point in our lives when we look outward into this amazing world we live in and say to Mom and Dad, “I want.” Now, at the core of that wanting is a God-given gift of exploration. That drive to explore, to make a way and name for ourselves is actually a part of that Very Good that God gave us back in Genesis 1. But here’s the kicker. As you and I inevitably come to the place where we want to step out into this world to claim what is ours, we forget that it was God’s plan to take Daddy’s perspective along with us.
You see, sin is not really about doing evil. It’s more about us choosing to live life outside of the loving care and nurture of our Creator. So, as a result of our childish behavior, moving away from Daddy’s protective covering, pulling our hand out of His so we can do what we want to do, we sadly try to cross the street on our own, only to meet up with a big semi-truck barreling down the street at 60 mph.
Our immature self-centeredness and demanding attitude has nearly cost us our lives. We’re not dead, thank God, but we are severely disabled for life.
But rather than learning from this tragic mistake, every generation since Adam and Eve has chosen a similar path where we say we trust God but act as though He wasn’t there. You and I take life into our own hands, only to find that our self-centeredness and selfish behaviors result in more woundedness and separation from God and others rather than the good stuff we hoped to attain by going out on our own.
So now, let’s look at this dilemma from God’s point of view.
Some gods would get angry. Others would wash their hands of the problem and walk away. But the God we’ve been talking about thus far in The Creed is a kind-hearted, merciful, caring, loving parent who refuses to give up on His children. Unlike other gods who would get mad and take away our toys, this loving God doesn’t withdraw His gift of choice and doesn’t pull us by the hand back into the Garden where it’s safe. No. This God comes to us, out there in the wilderness, hunting us down so we know that He still loves us and desires to be our Protector. He offers us His unconditional love, saying, “Kids, I really appreciate the fact that you’re trying to explore My creation on your own. But that rebellious spirit that keeps pulling you away from Me is going to get you killed! Listen carefully now. I forgive you, son. I forgive you, daughter. I understand your desire for independence. But I love you too much to let you continue trekking through this life without My wisdom and help. Now, let’s try this again, this time, using my example of how to walk through this thing called life. I’ll send you my Son to show you how to do it. And I’ll empower and indwell you with my Spirit, so you’ll never journey alone. Oh, and by the way, it’s a lot easier if you kids would try to stick together as you cross that next street!”
As I see it, The Creed calls all this I just described as “the forgiveness of sins.”
There’s an old song out there that calls it…Amazing Grace.
And I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna take God up on His generous offer.
My prayer: Father God, when I look at the stories found within Genesis 1 and Genesis 3, I see both Your kind and merciful heart, and I also see my own selfish, self-centered behaviors. I am, indeed, Very Good, but am also a sinner in need of forgiveness. Like my ancestors who’ve gone before me, in my desire for independence, I’ve strayed away from You, and in all honesty, it’s nearly killed me. I turn from that selfish way of life and choose to walk alongside You and Your amazing grace the rest of the way back home. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: How have I over-complicated the story of sin, making my life into a work of sin-management? In what ways can I simply identify how my fleshly desire to live life outside of the wisdom and truth of God has brought me to a place where darkness dwells and life is stolen away. Knowing that Jesus wants me to live life to the full, and is offering me forgiveness of my sin, how can I turn from my self-centeredness so I can be free to follow Him instead?
So, what are you experiencing today as we are Contemplating The Creed?
Over a seven-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Apostles Creed. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Creed home page for ease of use.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!