by Christine Sine,
I still vividly remember my visit to Australia about 10 years ago to spend time with my Mum after her back surgery for a collapsed spine. A steel rod in her back strengthened the existing structure and returned some of its youthful vitality. She looked years younger, her face was less stressed and she gained two inches in height. Watching her walk straight and tall for the first time in years was wonderful. It was sobering, however, to realize that even though she has two sons, a daughter and a daughter in-law who are doctors, no one really noticed what was happening or the severity of her problem.
Have we, too, lost our backbones and no one has noticed? Has the strength and vitality of our faith collapsed diminishing us to a mere shell of what God intends us to be? What are the things that contribute the iron and steel that makes us stand straight and tall in the presence of God and of those around us?
These are questions that seem particularly important in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic and of the intense heat that we have struggled with on the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada this last week, indicating the severity of climate change. The core values of our faith should not only embrace our own personal life and the prayer and spiritual practices that move us closer to God. They should also embrace our concern for the physical and spiritual wellbeing of neighbours and strangers as well as for God’s good creation. It is easy for us to feel overwhelmed when we recognize the inequities of our societies and the devastation of environments that we have contributed to. It is easy to do nothing because we feel so overwhelmed even though our hearts ache for those who suffer and for the creation that groans in anguish. This is where I feel personal creeds are important. They help move our principles from our heads to our hearts and that then leads to action.
Examine Your Faith
If you can, set aside a retreat day to allow God to speak to you about your faith. Make a list of the core beliefs of your faith, the spiritual practices that nurture those beliefs the daily, weekly and yearly activities reflect these beliefs. Look over the list and prayerfully consider: Do these values embrace all aspects of life and of God’s world? Is your faith strong and vibrant or weak and frail? What provides the iron and steel you need to grow your faith into a whole-life faith in the future? What actions could you take to strengthen your backbone?
Create a Personal Creed
Creating a personal creed that gives zest and vigour to our faith is a great way to strengthen our spiritual backbones. The less confident we are of our core beliefs, the more likely we are to focus on “holier than thou” practices without any substance to define us. Whether we drink, smoke, or condone same-sex marriages, whether we call God father, mother or Eternal One, are not central to our faith but we often treat them as though they are. It is these non-essentials we use to separate us from other believers and non-believers. They become our litmus test to decide who is and who isn’t a part of the body of Christ.
I wrote the prayer above as a personal creed, after reflecting on my own beliefs. It provides a statement that I can return to whenever I feel insecure in my faith. It’s a little like a calling statement but with a little more detail about what I believe rather than what I want to do with my live.
What is Your Response?
Read through the Nicene Creed and Apostles’ Creed and/or prayerfully listen to the the Apostles’ creed below. Read through some of the other lesser known creeds – The Immigrant’s Creed is particularly powerful. I also love these Celtic creeds – Patrick’s creed and the Ionian Creed and this Christmas creed.
If your church uses a different creed, get ahold of that as well. If you are involved in a Christian organization, research the creeds that it adheres to. Ask your friends, see if they can recite an elevator speech that reflects their faith. All this should provide good guidelines for your personal creed. My suggestions for what to include are: what do we believe about God Almighty, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the worldwide church, the kingdom of God (life of the world to come) and about our purpose here on earth? In what ways do these statements reflect your own beliefs? What would you like to add or subtract? Use them as a foundation for writing your own creed. You may want to memorize your new creed, but more importantly, you need to read through this creed regularly so that you are confident in what you believe.
Out of the research you have done, write down a beginning statement of faith. Share it with your friends. Talk about it together. What else would you like to include in this statement? Once you have a completed statement of faith I suggest that you keep a copy in your Bible or journal. Read it through at least once a week. Meditate on it and write down your reflections. All of these will strengthen your faith and put steel in your backbone.
And please consider joining our new Godspacelight Community Group on Facebook and share your creed with us there.
Want to experience more of the awe and wonder that God offers us? Check out the Gift of Wonder Online Retreat by Christine Sine. This retreat allows for 180 days of access for only $39.99 so you can move through the sessions at your own pace.