Non-Religious Christian Spirituality

preacher teacher

The purpose of a preacher is to persuade.
The purpose of a teacher is to make students ready to engage.

I’m a teacher.

Ultimately, I don’t care what you believe. But I care deeply how your beliefs affect your behavior and the quality of your relationships–that is, the quality of your life and every life you touch.

Belief is overrated; it’s only idea, the representation of reality small enough to survive the filter of your worldview. But what your beliefs allow you to do consistently is what we call faith–not what you think, but how you act–and how you act repeatedly over time creates the repeated experience we call trust.

Belief is idea. Faith is action. Trust is experience. Belief is only as important as the faith it makes possible and faith only as important as the trust it makes possible. Because trust is what makes relationship possible.

Always approximate, no one has a completely accurate belief system. No one. Yet we preach and persuade, denigrate and excommunicate over thoughts we can’t even know for certain are true. And all the while, what is concrete and inescapably real are the choices and actions we absolutely know are true or false by their ability to connect or divide our relationships.

It’s not my job to tell anyone what to believe. Belief merely received is untested, and untested belief is untrusted, has no ability to connect…but can certainly divide. What I teach is what I’ve become convinced of, what I’ve tested for years in the laboratory of my life, risked my choices and actions on and proved to myself whether it has power to bind relationship. But reduced to words, these convictions become belief again, idea again in the student’s mind. Untested. Untrusted.

All I can tell you is what I am convinced of. Go become convinced of what you are convinced of.

Because persuasion is overrated too. The only person we will ever convince of anything is ourselves, living the truth we believe we believe until we experience its truth in the nature of our relationships. And if the way you express your truth is different than the way I express mine, no matter. It’s not important that we see eye to eye, only that we can stand shoulder to shoulder, connected to each other and everyone we meet along the way.

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3 responses

  1. George Jenkins

    An approximate Oscar Wilde comment– I can’t hear what you’re saying;because, what you are is so apparent…..Thank you! teacher Dave for sharing, great stuff.

    December 17, 2014 at 11:12 am

    • Hey George! So great to hear from you. Thanks for lurking out there and reading. Anyone who quotes Oscar Wilde is alright with me. Happy Christmas.

      December 18, 2014 at 12:57 pm

  2. Dave Sharp

    Hey Dave, after my daily reading of “The Fifth Way” today, I was shifting to the next phase of my gospel study and saw the link to your website in my bookmarks. Decided to do some more reading. Read this post and thought I’d share a thought or two on “belief.” I like to really study the meaning of words, so I tend to look at a word from all angles, particularly when I’m studying scripture. I’ll break it down into its parts and see if there’s any meaning I’m missing. Some time ago, I worked on “belief.” As part of my study, I broke the word down into two parts “be” and “lief.” Of course, “be” indicates a state of existence. “Lief,” which is now obsolete, surprised me. According to various dictionaries, “lief” meant “gladly,” “willingly”, “dear,” “beloved,” “cherished.” It coincides with love, so “belief” seems to express a glad, willing focus on what we desire, love, and cherish. “Belief” certainly also indicates something we hold to be true. Combining these two meanings really had a big impact on me. For most of my life, if I didn’t see how I could accomplish my desire, I gave up on it. I didn’t believe I could have my desire. As I began to understand how creation works, I came to understand that “the what” was my job and “the how” was God’s. My new understanding of “belief” really helped me realize that I needed to hold firm to my desire “gladly, willingly, lovingly,” and to keep that focus unwaveringly, accepting that my desire will eventually be manifested according to my faith. I really like your progression of belief, faith, and trust. It completes the picture of creation. Thanks so much for your insight.

    March 5, 2015 at 8:27 am

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