Our thoughts and beliefs are influenced by the people around us. Many Brits who voted for Brexit did not even understand its implication or even what it means but were swayed by the media. The media in the US is so intensely divided that those who subscribe to the right-wing knew the name of the opposing candidate as ‘Crooked Hilary’ and those on the left saw repeated montages of Donald Trump and his antics. There was no true bipartisan media coverage and the people voted for the party that their family, friends and community voted for. No one truly believed in Trump or Clinton, rather the election was about party loyalty.
Our christian lives are also sometimes influenced by the people around us. There are so many theological schools of thought that we sometimes find it hard to know what we believe. Our beliefs on issues like Creation, Baptism, Sabbath, Communion and Afterlife are influenced by our family and church. Some people are so rigid in their beliefs that they choose their churches like they choose their TV packages. They compare the stand the church takes on various issues and pick the denomination that accommodates their lifestyle. This gives birth to new denominations with different interpretations of the word of God. Today the Church is more divided than the US political scene.
Solomon did not know what he believed in but only depended on his father’s teachings. He was easily swayed by his wives to worship and build magnificent altars for other gods. On the other hand David knew what he believed and understood the sovereignty of the God he worshiped. He knew God is always in control even when Saul was chasing after him with the intention of killing him. When he had the opportunity to kill Saul he did not seize it, but remembered that God had placed Saul as the authority over Israel.
Nicodemus did not know what he believed and even a late night Bible study with Jesus was not enough for him to leave his community and follow Jesus. He choose to remain a ‘secret follower’. Paul in his letter to Timothy shows to people like Nicodemus that there is no such thing as a secret christian life. In spite of all the sufferings he faced for the sake of the gospel, Paul never wavered from his faith and stood strong in what he believed.
And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. – 2 Timothy 1;11-12
The first mention of the expression “Apostles’ Creed” occurs in a letter of 390 AD from a synod in Milan. It was widely accepted in the fourth century to have been written by the twelve apostles. The validity of the authorship has been questioned by different denominations but it is the most universally used liturgy for the affirmation of our faith. A creed is a set of beliefs that guides ones actions and the words of the Apostle’s creed typifies what we all should believe.
The Apostle’s Creed
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 Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Let this or any another creed we recite, not be a chanting or a mantra that we perform as a ritual but rather remind us of the glory of God, his perfect sacrifice and our faith in the new life. Not believing even one of line of the Apostle’s creeds negates the whole set of beliefs. You cannot believe in Jesus Christ without believing in God the father. You cannot believe that he was conceived by the holy spirit if you don’t believe that he was born of a virgin. You cannot believe that He will come again if you never believed that he rose from the dead.
10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— John 1:10-12
To all who believe in his name, believe in the one who sent him and believe that he died and rose again, he gives the right to become children of God. We do not need to look to any conservative or liberal beliefs to tell us what God wants from us but we need to look to his word and with prayer ask the Holy Spirit to guide our lives.