I believe in God

I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

They say faith is spelled R-I-S-K.  To believe in God is a calculated risk.  The Apostles’ Creed is part of the calculation for Christians.  We say "I believe in God" and continue in the Creed with propositions both historical and out of this world to fill out the object of our belief since believing in God as Christians means going along with the faith of the church.

Belief in God is like belief in electricity. Both are invisible yet powerful realities.  Just as we do not need to fully understand electricity to benefit from switching the lights on, so we do not need to fully understand God to see our prayers answered.  We believe, St Anselm taught, so that we may understand and not vice versa.

Thomas Merton added "I believe not because I want to know but because I want to be".  To believe in God opens up a vision that is transformative and helps us become what we are meant to be in communion with all the saints.

Belief that ultimate reality is personal distinguishes Christian faith.  If God is different from human beings as almighty he has a sameness recognisable by all who have known earthly love.  He is our Father, Christ taught us.

Without faith the world can be reduced to a mechanism.  In his book The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins proposes the self-propagation of DNA as the purpose of human existence.  Another atheist, Albert Camus, goes further. In his Myth of Sisyphus Camus recalled the ancient myth which portrays human existence as like being consigned to roll a boulder up a hill only to see it roll down the other side.  Protesting such a painful mechanism was to Camus the only moral and purpose to life.

To believe in God the Father Almighty is to believe that the world in all its frailty and sorrow has a heart.  As a parent's smile eventually wins the reward of a smiling baby so God the Father looks with love upon all he has made.  The suffering of Christ for us, which the Father shares, demonstrates his heart and that he expects nothing of his children that he is not prepared to go through himself.

A famous acrobat used to wheel his son in a wheelbarrow on a high wire.  "Aren't you ever frightened?" they asked the little boy.  "Of course not – my father always looks after me" the boy replied confounding his critics.  Such is Christian belief in God as loving, almighty Father.

If relationships are seen as the summit of human life, the possibility of eternal belonging as part of God the Father's never ending family is central to the world to come as revealed in Christianity.  Love dies when it is depersonalised and death is its great enemy.  Belief in God's love as greater than death and the hope of joyful communion beyond the grave gives heart to Christian service.

To believe in God the Father Almighty is to believe in the great reversal of the tendency of the world to go its own way, in a movement "gathering together the scattered children of God" (John 11v52b).  The central act of Christian worship (Eucharist) expresses it as a movement of praise "through Christ, with Christ and in Christ" towards our Almighty Father.

Why is there such resistance in the world to the concept of a personal God?  What is it that makes people prefer a New Age life force?  Belief in God as a diffuse energy or belief in the impersonal view of ultimate reality in Eastern religions may attract because they obscure belief in a Father God who has evident concern for our destiny and hence for all we do.  People seem to prefer concepts of eternity and ultimate destiny that will not bring them to account.  It is notable that the adoption of reincarnation as a belief in Western culture is a typical selection avoiding the associated belief in purification as part of the cycle of rebirth.

To believe in God as Father is to wake up to what he has made us, as his children, to what he wants to make us and to our responsibility as such.  "You must see what great love the Father has lavished on us by letting us be called God's children … whoever treasures this hope … purifies himself, to be pure as he is" (1 John 3v1,3).

To hold to God as Father is seen by some as humankind putting their human image on ultimate reality (anthropomorphism).  Those who have found intimacy with God through the revelation of Jesus Christ can counter this claim. They sense that God, though so familiar, is also one who, awesome in his difference from us, challenges all that we are.  He is "a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12v29) who burns away all our false images of him.  The image of Father is nevertheless one Christians believe God has given us definitively through the teaching of Jesus.

God has a sameness with us as a loving Father.  Yet he is different – an almighty Father, Trinity, ever-living, all-present.  Christian faith thrills to that awesome difference as surely as it rejoices in the sameness Jesus reveals.


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