I Believe In God

Sermon Text – 09.09.2018
[Genesis 2:4-7 and Hebrews 11:1-3, 6]      
     Did you know that the African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of over 30 feet in a single bound? It’s a truly impressive animal, and yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any ol’ zoo with a simple three foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. They are afraid to jump, because they do not have a good footing, a solid foundation. I think this parallels the way some of us live our lives. There are barriers in our world – tiny, insignificant barriers – that cannot beat us, but we let them hold us back, because we are afraid. We don’t have a solid foundation – and so we do not make the leap to freedom. Truth is the only reason we as a church will ever be able to step out on a limp, take chance, leap over that three foot fence that is holding us back would be if we have a solid foundation.    
       Today is the start of a new sermon series – Foundations: The Apostles’ Creed. One thing I have found in my ministry is that different Christians believe different things. Inside Christianity, there can be different interpretations, different traditions, denominations. We’ve got Catholics and Baptists, Lutherans and Methodists – we’re all Christians, but on the specifics of the smaller issues – sometimes we have different views. Now, I said that we are all Christians – but where do we draw the line? What are the basics that all Christians believe no matter what tradition they are from? What’s the difference between a denomination and a different religion? What makes a person “Christian”? This has been a question for thousands of years – ever since Jesus died and rose from the dead, people have asked, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” What is the foundation of our religion? And this was such a big deal in the early church that eventually the leaders of the early church, like the Apostles’, they got together and they said, we need to write this stuff down. We need to come up with a statement of the basics, a creed. And they gave us the Apostles’ Creed. So for the rest of September we are going to go back to the basics – to the stuff that all Christians believe. Because if we have a strong foundation, nothing can keep us from making the leap into greatness.          
   So today we are going to be talking about the first two lines of the Apostles’ Creed. “I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.” Now that’s a short phrase, but there’s a lot packed in there. So what we’re going to do is break it down word by word. The first word that comes up is God. I believe in God. Already this is a major controversy, a major issue for some people in the world. But this is something that all Christians agree on – I believe in God. There is SOMETHING out there. Now, I don’t know if I’ve shared this with you all before – but I’m a huge sci-fi futuristic action junkie. TV shows or morives or anything sci-fi – there’s a good chance I enjoy it. But what I have found lately, is that in a lot of our media, lots of movies and tv shows and even music – there is an underlying obsession in our media culture with God. For example – JJ Abram, prominent writer and director in Hollywood, he directed both Star Trek and Star Wars – he created a TV show called Revolution and in the show there are these scientists, atheists who accidentally create an all powerful computer thing that sounds a LOT like God. Jonathan Nolan, who worked on the Dark Knight trilogy, and also wrote the movie Inception – he’s one of my favorite movie makers – he created a TV show called Person of Interest. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe not – but it’s the same deal – advanced computer people who don’t believe in God accidentally create God with technology. Will Smith’s irobot, the latest X-men movie, Captain America 2, Batman VS Superman, Infinity War, anything with vampires or zombies – I realize I’m outing myself as a major nerd right now – but I’m just trying to show you that all these things have a fascination with the divine, with something more than just this life. We feel it, we know it in our bones. For all our advanced scientific, theologically superior theories that look down and laugh at those silly, superstitious, religious people – we cannot escape this gut certainty that there is something more to this life than the few decades we have here on this earth. IN the secular world, for a group of people who are trying really hard to use science to throw away God and other silly superstitions, our culture and media is still obsessed with the idea of something more. As Christians, we have the answer. We can stand together and celebrate – I believe in God.       
    But we don’t stop there. I believe in God, the Father. All Christians, whatever background you come from – all Christians believe in God the father. This is very different than just believing that something is out there. Think about it for a second, what does that one word “father” – what does that add to the description? We believe that God, that awesome infinite powerful thing that is out there, we believe that God is relational. God is a Father, and not just to his son Jesus, but even in the Old Testament we find this idea – God is a Father to all of us. God wants to connect with humanity as a perfect Father to his children. This is very important, because there are some who agree in the idea of a higher power, they’ll say “sure, maybe there’s something all powerful that’s out there. But” they conclude, “that something is so big and unknown we can never really understand it there’s no point in religion.” But on the other hand Christians say, “You’re right, there is something that so big and so infinite that we can’t ever figure it out by ourselves, but we believe that God explains himself to us.” That’s the difference, Christians believe that God wants to be understood.” The story of scripture teaches us that God reveals himself to us. God wants to be understood. We believe in a relational God. God reveals himself to us throughout history, and in scripture to help us understand because God wants a connection, a relationship with us. God is Father. Now, quick side note, some modern scholars don’t like the word “Father” because it’s sexist, and so they like to use Mother to describe God, and then there are others on the other side who get all offended and they say, “Father is the only way to talk about God.” I just want to be really clear about this – that is a ridiculous thing to argue about. God does not have a gender – Father, Mother – the core idea is the same. God is relational. God reaches down from the heavens through Scripture, through Jesus and shows us a way to connect to His impossibly perfect, powerful, infinite presence. I believe in God the father.          
I believe in God, the father – almighty. Kinda strange, huh? Like on the one hand, we’ve got Father – relational, personal, connection, but then over hear we’ve got the word almighty – which is powerful, scary, distant. But God is both! There’s three pieces to the word almighty – I call them the omni’s. We believe that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. We believe that God is everywhere, all the time – we call it omnipresent. We also believe that God is omniscient – that he knows everything, all the time. And God is omnipotent – all powerful. So – omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient. All powerful, everywhere and all knowing. God the Father ALMIGHTY. Can I just pause for a second – because that’s what all Christians believe about God. He is almighty and yet we still say stuff like, “Oh no, can’t curse in church?” Like do you think he’s stuck in the lobby or something? God is everywhere, and if you shouldn’t do it in church, you probably shouldn’t do it anywhere. Like, why would it be worse here? Maybe we’re just hoping there are places in our life when God is not paying attention. Hope he doesn’t see me. Anyways, this description of God makes it even more incredible that he wants to be our Father. The relational connection of God, when you hold it up against how amazing God really is, and how not amazing we really are – it’s just incredible. God, the God, wants a relationship with us – he loves us – and it just doesn’t make any sense. It’s confusing and kind of beautiful at the same time. God loves you. It doesn’t make God less impressive, less awesome – in fact, it kind of gives you value. You are the beloved of the Almighty – I mean, put that on your resume.         
  I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. The third major piece of God that comes from the creed is the fact that God is a Creator. God is not just all powerful, not just trying to have a connection with us – God has a personality. God is creative. Our scripture in Genesis starts with [read v.4]. I love that because there’s a clarification. This is the story of how the heavens and the earth were created – no, no, a story of how GOD created them. It makes it very clear – this was not all just some accident. It didn’t just happen. This has a design to it, a plan behind all the chaos, the coincidences of fate. At the very beginning of the book, Genesis 1:2 says, [read it]. The all powerful, all knowing, relational God who is everywhere wanted more than just darkness and a formless void. So he created. Light and stars and animals and land and sea and everything we can possibly experience in this world – God is a creator. Not just a creator, but a creative creator. God builds our world with variety and diversity. You know that thing where they say no two snowflakes are the same. I don’t know if it’s true, I mean – how you be finding that out? I don’t know about snowflakes, but I do know that no two people are exactly the same. God is such a creative creator! You ever watch those planet earth documentaries. I love those things – it’s just incredible, all the things God has put together in our world. Like an artist painting a picture with the substance of life. Creator and heaven and of earth.  
Now, I want to pause for a second on that – because earth is easy. That’s what we’re experiencing right now. We know God created the earth – because it’s right in front of us. But heaven, heaven is different. Heaven is what is yet to come, the next life, the afterlife if you will. There’s no proof or evidence of that. Our scripture in Hebrews actually mentions this, it says [read v.3]. It says, “by faith.” How do we know God did all this? By faith. The last thing the Apostle’s creed gives us is the idea of faith. Faith is one of the foundations of Christianity. WE talk about it all the time, but what is it? What does it even mean? Hebrews verse 1 tells us, [read it]. This is one of the most basic definitions of faith. Faith is confidence in what we hope for. Assurance of what we do not see. To believe in God at all, takes a level of faith, but it comes up again with the idea of heaven. It’s easy to believe God created the earth, I’ve got the evidence right in front of me. But heaven, I don’t have any proof for that, at least – not yet. Faith is confidence in what we hope for. Verse 6 tells us, [read it]. To be a Christian you must have faith. Now there’s a good chunk of people in the world who think that’s crazy. You can’t have confidence in the unknown. You can’t have assurance about what you do not see. They think faith is a fool’s hope – but the reality is that you cannot function without faith in your life. Think about it this way – another way to talk about faith is trust. Faith is sort of a religious version of trust. Now you could say, trust is a fool’s hope – you can’t prove it will happen. But the truth is we cannot function as human beings without some tiny level of trust. For example, say you’re a boss and you have employees. For a while you watch over them, train them, but eventually you have to leave them to do their work so you can go do your job. And you are trusting that the moment you walk away they are not going to steal everything and ruin the business. Or children, as they grow up, you can’t always keep an eye on them. Whether it’s in middle school or high school or college – someday you’re not going to be there watching. And we do the best we can to teach them and train them – but ultimately we have to trust them. To believe in something you can’t see. To have confidence in something you can’t prove. Faith is the same way for your spiritual life. You can’t function in your connection to God without a certain level of trust, without faith.
So faith gets us started, it helps us function as Christians in the world, but I want to push on that for a second, because there’s more to it. The strength of your faith, determines what you can do in the world. Let me show you what I mean. There’s an old story – a long time ago there was a man travelling west in the winter, when suddenly he came upon a river he did not know. Now there was no bridge across the river, but it was winter – so the river was sheeted over with ice. Now the traveler was afraid to walk on the ice, because he didn’t know how thick the ice was. So slowly, with infinite caution, he crawled across the ice on his hands and knees, carefully putting pressure down and lifting it up again. It took forever. When he was halfway across the ice, he heard a noise. Sounded like singing, so slowly he spread himself out on the ice, and turned to look. There, over the hill came another traveler, driving a four-horse load of coal in a sleigh, racing over the ice, singing loudly as he went. For he knew the river, and he knew the ice was thick. Our level of faith, our level of trust, of confidence determines how we walk in this life. The better we know the river, the better we know our God – the better we can walk, singing as we go. Christians believe that God is Father (relational), Almighty (remember the omnis) and Creator of heaven and of earth. Simple, basic, solid beliefs of all Christians on the planet. And if you don’t have that basic set of beliefs, what you have is something other than Christianity.            
 So what do we do with that? To close today I want to introduce an idea called Imago Dei. You might have heard of this before, but I want to highlight it this morning. Imago Dei is latin for “image of God.” It comes from Genesis, but it’s repeated and found all throughout scripture. We as humans are created in the image of God. And so the application is that in every area, every aspect of your life – live into His image. What we saw today is that God is both our source and our goal. God is where we come from – God created us. But God is also our Father Almighty – our inspiration, our example that we should follow, our goal in life. Just like a good human parent – father/mother/whatever – they set a standard and an example for us to follow. So with your life – live into that image. We are imago dei, we are the image bearer’s of God. I mean, think about that, the God of the all the universe wants to get to know you – don’t you want to find out more about this mysterious God who loves you? Faith makes it possible, but it’s our journey to walk across the ice, to jump over the fence that holds us back. As Christians, this is the starting point of everything we do. Live into your imago dei.     
        I believe that this church has some very exciting things coming up in the future. Challenging things, even dangerous things. We are getting ready to step into the future with confidence. We are going to push the boundaries, break some of the unspoken rules – and the reason we can do that is that we don’t have to live in fear. When you build on the best foundation, on solid rock, there is no limit to the house you can build. There’s this confidence, a peace that comes with that. It’s a hurricane out there – politically, socially, economically. It’s a mess, bring your boots. Life is a raging storm of challenges – so did you build your life on a solid foundation? Do you know what you believe? I’ll leave you with this – May you believe in God, the father, Almighty, Creator of heaven and Earth. May you use faith to build your life on a strong foundation, so you can live your life with peace. Amen.

Leave a Reply