“It doesn’t matter what you believe,” declared Ann, “it only matters that you believe something.”
The ladies in the office where I worked had gathered around one of our co-workers during break to learn the condition of her husband’s health. Not especially good. Knowing that he was a minister, one of the ladies asked his wife what their church taught about death. The group consisted of Catholics and Protestants of various denominations.
Sensitive to all the differences, the wife gave the Biblical basis for her belief that death is a “sleep” in which the dead hears nothing, sees nothing, remembers nothing. There is no instant journey to the heavenly Kingdom but a “sleeping in the grave” until Jesus comes and resurrects his own (Ref. I Thessalonians 3:13-18).
This is when Ann made her statement, grabbed her cigarettes out of her purse, and went outside to smoke. Unbeknownst to the others, her own husband had just been diagnosed with lung cancer.
His illness didn’t stop Ann from smoking. Under stress, she smoked even more. Just statistics, she said. The two of them had been smoking for years. When her children begged her to stop smoking, she argued, “What are the chances of two people in the same family dying of the same thing?”
Ann did not believe that smoking cigarettes would cause the same devastating disease in her that it did in her husband. Unfortunately, within two years lung cancer took her life as well.
Shut Out All the Negatives
She believed so hard that the smoking wouldn’t hurt her. She shut out all the negatives: the warnings on the packaging and in the media; the loving appeals of family and friends.
Does it matter what we believe? Not just about personal health and morals, but about God?
Some say that it is enough only to believe that there is a god—someone or something greater than ourselves whom we may worship and pay homage to. Others declare that god is within us and that in essence, we are god. Others are teaching that the gods of all the world’s religions are equal and actually one and the same god.
Another recurring trend is to resurrect wrong teachings from the past and call them “new.” Teaching that God is in every blade of grass and every flower is false doctrine. As is the teaching that it doesn’t matter what we believe.
“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 16:25).
What we believe about God affects every aspect of life: our relationships with others; how we regard our bodies; our finances; our lifestyle; our goals. What we believe makes a difference between hope and despair. Believing in a God who cares may not change the circumstance we are in, but it affects our attitude toward it.
What we believe about God affects not only this life, but whether we have life to come (ref. John 3:16).