It never ceases to amaze me when I witness the way that some Christians live out their lives. They claim to believe in God and to love him, but the way they live does not seem to show it. I don’t mean to ask this in a critical way, but isn’t believing in God supposed to mean something?
Yes indeed, it is supposed to mean something. Unfortunately, words often come easier than actions. Saying “I believe in God” is one thing, but backing those words up with our actions can be quite another matter for some. If we stopped to think about it, however, we would realize that if all people who claim to believe in God fully grasped and understood what this should mean, the world would be a different place.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “believing in God, the only One, and loving Him with all our being has enormous consequences for our whole life” (CCC #222-227). “What kinds of consequences?” you might ask.
It means coming to know God’s greatness and majesty. Do we truly recognize God for who He is the Almighty, the Incomprehensible, the Creator of all, the Lord and Giver of Life? How often do we take the time to gaze in awe at the wonders of creation and think of God? When we watch the sun rise, look at a magnificent mountain range, hold a precious newborn baby all of these things should cause us to pause and stand in amazement at God’s greatness. He can do anything! All of creation is His. And yes, we belong to Him, but He loves us so much.
It means living in thanksgiving. Someone once said that “a life lived in faith is a life lived in gratitude.” How it would change our lives if every day we thanked God for all that we have. But, you see, many of us take so much in our lives for granted. Do we wake up every morning, for example, and say, “Thank you, Lord, for another day another opportunity to show you and others in this world how much I love you”? Sadly, we fail sometimes to realize that we would have none of what we have if He did not wish that we should have it. Often, we spend too much of our life wanting more or that which we do not have instead of appreciating what we do have.
It means knowing the unity and true dignity of all men. If we say that we believe in God and that He is our Father, then we must believe that we are all brothers and sisters in the Lord. And this includes not only those we love and who love us, but also those whom we may not feel love for, or who do not seem to love us. This can at times present quite a challenge. We might say, “Some people are just not easy to love.” But do you know why? It is because we fail to see Christ in them. That’s why. It is said that the secret of Mother Teresa’s holiness was due to her ability to see Jesus in the faces of the poor, sick, and dying that she ministered to everyday. Just think about that for a moment. It is the reality of how things are every human person is made in the image and likeness of God and therefore has dignity and is worthy of our love and attention.
It means making good use of created things. God, who is goodness itself, creates everything good. We, then, who proclaim to believe in God, are called to make good use of everything that He has created. And this includes other persons, the environment, and even ourselves. It is an injustice towards the love of God to abuse in any way that which He has created. The use of illegal drugs, sexual or physical abuse of another person, and even the mutilation or neglect of our own bodies are only some of the ways that we misuse God’s creation.
It means trusting God in every circumstance, even in adversity. This is another very tall order for us. Look at what happens so often when we have a problem or crisis in our life. We think that we have to worry ourselves sick about it. In doing this, we are essentially saying to God, “I do not trust that you can handle this, Lord, so I must worry about it until I can resolve it.” Do we think that God cannot come up with whatever it might be that we need? God can bring the solution from places that we never dreamed possible. And even though He wants us to use our intellect, wisdom, and knowledge in working out our problems, He wants first to know that we have faith and trust in Him, knowing that He can provide for all our needs.
But how can we do all this? It takes practice! We have all heard the saying that “practice makes perfect.” We must make sure that when we say “I believe in God” it truly means something in our lives. Then, people in the world will point and say, “There is a Believer.”
© Copyright 2003 Grace D. MacKinnon
For permission to reproduce this article, contact Grace MacKinnon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grace MacKinnon is a syndicated columnist and public speaker on Catholic doctrine and teaches in the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Her new book Dear Grace: Answers to Questions About the Faith is available in our online store. If you enjoy reading Grace’s column, you will certainly want to have this book, which is a collection of the first two years of “Dear Grace.” Faith questions may be sent to Grace via e-mail at: email@example.com. You may also visit her online at www.DearGrace.com.