Building a Belief System

It sounds so “professional”, doesn’t it? “Building a belief system”- like you are creating some commercial organization, or something.

Despite the stoically cold and unemotional sound of it, it is what we all do during our lives. Whether we are believing in our parent’s trustworthiness (which usually comes as a given), what we are told, what we learn, in Santa Claus, or even whether God exists or not, we depend on our beliefs to help guide us through life.

Hopefully we believe that ethical and moral behaviour, as defined by our society, is the way in which we should act towards others. Isn’t there an old adage that goes something like, “Honesty is what you do when you know no one will ever find out.”? We who have a belief system based on honesty and respect for others (and their property) believe in this.

So how do you build a belief system? You start with something that you believe in. DUH!!

If you believe in God, you have a really good start, but if it is that God doesn’t exist, or that He exists in some way other than what others believe, it is still something. No one can not believe in something, because even total apathy is something you believe in.

The question I was discussing with friends the other night is how do you know what to believe? We hear so many different things from so many different religions (and non-religions which are treated as a religion) that it is really hard to know who is right about what, and that was the question posed to me: “How do I know who to believe?”

My answer was, “You don’t, and that stinks” (I think the actual descriptive adjective I used at that time was somewhat more graphic.) But that is how it is. No one can be absolutely certain what to think or who to believe, at least not when first starting. So what do we do?

We take a leap of faith. We believe in that which seems right to us. I pray that God will be influencing each person’s heart when making that initial choice, but the choices we make are influenced by other things, too. Such as, what we learned from our parents (whether as a positive or a negative experience), what we learned from our friends, our teachers, our religious leaders, and (unfortunately) from TV. I have to include TV (and maybe nowadays I should include YouTube and the Internet) because it is such a major part of our lives now.

So we start with believing what is comfortable for us, and we move on from there. As we discuss our beliefs with others we hear their beliefs, and we compare and we re-evaluate, so on we go through life, constantly learning and adjusting our beliefs.

At some point, though, we have to take a stand. Sooner or later we will conclude that what we believe in is not open to change. I feel that way about my belief in God and Yeshua as my (actually, everyone’s) Messiah. I have always felt a calling to know God better, and I went through many years of not believing in Him at all; I cursed Him and His name often as a child, and I felt torn and confused, I believed we were all our own Messiah and that salvation was an individual thing, that there was no death only reincarnation, that there was no reincarnation, that …well, let’s just say I went through a lot of beliefs. After going through them all, I finally settled on what I truly believe in, what I have had proven (to me) to be the correct belief because of actual, real events in my life, and what I can say is more than a faith-based belief because for me it is a fact, a reality, an unchanging and unchangeable truth upon which I can now feel totally certain.

And here’s the hard part, the part that still stinks…I had to come to this absolute and unmovable position initially by a leap of faith.

In the long run, Brothers, Sisters, Friends, you need to make a leap of faith and choose to believe in something. What you are told, what you learn, what others tell you is true is all part of the process, but ultimately you must choose for yourself what you will believe. And it gets worse- you have to be willing to stand up to others when you choose that belief. You can’t go through life changing your moral and religious beliefs. I am sure there are people that do, and I can only feel pity for them. Without a belief system, you are building a house on sand instead of rock, and you will always be shifting  your moral and ethical position. You will be a leaf blown about in the wind instead of a strong tree upon which others can depend for support. And you will never feel secure in anything.

I believe that God exists, as He is described in the Bible, and that He sent Yeshua to be the Messiah He promised and told us about throughout the Tanakh (The Old Covenant.) I believe that the New Covenant is the continuation of the Old one, not a separate book about a new religion. I believe Yeshua (Jesus) taught the Torah, and the Torah is what He stood for and believed in. He never taught that we should act any way but the way we are told to act in the Torah. And all the other writings in the New Covenant support that.

I also believe that Yeshua died and was resurrected, and that His death allows me to be saved from my own sinfulness, which is a real part of my innate nature. I also believe that I can be a sinful sinner but still be a good person; at least, “good” as society defines “good.”  Which, I also believe, from God’s perspective isn’t good enough. That’s why we all need the Messiah.

I came to this belief system after more than 40 years of searching for it, and now I am totally comfortable with it. As I say above, I am convinced that it is correct because of the events in my life since I chose to accept this belief system for myself, and I am unmovable in it.

If you say I may be wrong, you have the right to believe that- I was where you are. The character Morpheus from “The Matrix” movie at one point had someone say to him that others didn’t believe as he did, and Morpheus answered that what he believes doesn’t require others to believe the same.

I believe, and I would hope that you believe as I believe, but you don’t have to. I respect your right to believe what you do, and am willing to discuss what I believe, but am not willing to allow you or anyone else to tell me what I believe is wrong. Maybe wrong for you, but no one can say it is wrong. Even if I vehemently disagree with what you believe in, I can’t say you are wrong, only that what you believe in is wrong for me.

God gave us all free will, and I respect God’s opinion and His choices. Even if you say there is no God and never was, my answer will be that your belief that God doesn’t exist is because He allows you to make up your own mind.

That’s what this is all about: initially, every belief is a leap of faith, no matter what you believe. Yeshua said we are all a slave to something, and I think we should be a slave to our beliefs; otherwise, what good are they? Let me say this: whatever you believe, make sure it is your choice to believe it. Don’t let anyone else tell you what you should believe, especially about God.

You need to be certain that what you believe is your choice because God will hold each and every one of us accountable for what we believe.

Believe me when I tell you that.

Parashah Ki Tavo (When You Come)

This parasha continues with the commandments regarding how the people are to behave when they enter the Land (ha Eretz). It tells them to write the entire Torah on plastered rocks and to stand, 6 tribes on one mountain and the other 6 on another one, and pronounce the blessings and curses that the people are subject to while in the Land. Chapters 28 and 29 specify, in somewhat graphic detail, the blessings for obedience and the curses (this is where it gets graphic) for rejecting the laws, thereby rejecting God.

But does God really curse us? God is good, all the time! We hear that often during services, and it is in the Manual, too. We also hear that God is the same: yesterday, today and tomorrow. Totally dependable. Loving and compassionate. Patient and forgiving; in fact, more than just willing to forgive, He wants to forgive!

We know God will judge, but we also know His judgments are infused with mercy.

However, He is God, and will do whatever He wants to do, however He wants to do it. We trust, and we should, that what He does is just and holy. God is loving, fair, merciful and compassionate, and he wants us to have only the best there is.

So, nu? With all that going for Him, why would He curse us just because we want to do our own thing? He gave us free will, right? He lets us make our own decisions, right? So, if we decide to ignore some, or all, of His rules why be so vengeful and nasty? I mean, c’mon, God- live, and let live. You go your way and I’ll go my way. No need to be all “up-in-my-face” about it. I’ll leave you alone and you leave me alone. Okay?

Actually…that is exactly what he does.

Remember that the world is a cursed place. It was cursed with the sin that Adam and Eve committed, and has remained cursed. In fact, Satan was thrown not to Sheol (hell), but to Earth. If you sometimes think it is hell on Earth, well- you’re right! It is.

God’s blessings are a kippur, or covering. It is the umbrella that protects us from the raining down curses that we must endure while we live in this world. We have the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, coming soon. Kippur means covering, and that is really what atonement does for us: when we atone before God, when we do T’Shuvah and (literally) turn from our sins, He covers us with His protection from the world, i.e., blessings. You see, things start off lousy- we are born into sin, with a sinful nature (Yetzer Hara) and into a sinful, cursed world. The wonderful things that happen to us are the exception, not the rule. Those exceptions happen because God covers us with His blessings. Yeshua said He wished He could cover Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) like a mother hen covers her chicks under her wings. Often, David used the term “under the wings”, an image of being covered and protected, in his psalms about how God cares for us.

We are given free will, and we can do whatever we want regarding the laws and commandments God has ordered us to obey. But we need to be ready for the consequences.

Does God curse us? I say no, because he doesn’t need to. We start off cursed, in a cursed world. God wants to cover us, to give us His Kippur, and we can choose to go to Him and stand under His protection, or we can choose to say, “Thanks, but no thanks” and stand alone, unprotected in the midst of tsouris.

I think many people just don’t like being told what to do; yes, we are sheep easily led astray. But we are also stiff-necked and stubborn, prideful and egocentric. The way we are easily led astray is that anyone who promises us hedonistic pleasures and autonomy will have a following more numerous than the grains of sand on all the beaches in the world. What God tells us to do is for our best interest and will lead to Eternal pleasure, but (sadly) we prefer to do what feels good now and ignore the Eternal consequences. We like to be “eased” into obedience, but that is not how it works with the Lord. He doesn’t ask, and He doesn’t need to ask, just like when I was a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps I didn’t need to ask an enlisted man to do something. Even the Roman soldier who told Yeshua, by means of servants, that Yeshua did not need to come to his home to cure the sick slave, knew that was true because Yeshua had the authority to do so, wherever He was. God is THE ultimate authority in the Universe. He, and He alone, has the right and the power to enforce telling us what to do. Yes, he could send horrible curses upon us, but he doesn’t use that power- He doesn’t need to. He chooses instead to lovingly, and (I believe from what I read in the Bible) regretfully leave us to our own devices.

People curse each other- we willingly desire that bad things happen to someone else and if we could make it happen, we would. We actively curse each other. God does not actively curse us- His “curses” are passive, in that His curse is the result of us rejecting Him, and thereby throwing off His Kippur from the already cursed world. God doesn’t throw us under the bus- we run into the road and lay down in front of the bus all on our own.

Obey God, believe that Yeshua is the Messiah and accept Him as your Messiah, follow the commandments and you choose life: a life of blessings and an Eternity in the presence of the Almighty. If you prefer to do as you please, reject Yeshua and thereby reject God’s plan of salvation for yourself,  you choose Eternal suffering. You may have one heck of a good life on earth- the sinful know how to get what they want (there’s an interesting parable about that in Luke), but in the end, you are choosing death.

It’s your choice.