The Difference Between Belief And Faith
I have. And what I’ve learned through those circumstances is that there is a real difference between belief and faith.
I grew up with belief in a loving God. I had loving parents & extended family, so that belief came easily. But then more life happened – experiences in the larger world – out from under the shelter of my immediate family – experiences that challenged my beliefs.
I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but at some point I noticed the voices & ideas of religious leaders that spoke of a God I had never heard of – one who was mainly concerned with who He would allow into Heaven & who He would keep out. And these leaders clearly believed they had a direct line to that information. Over time, the voices got louder & louder.
This caused a spiritual crisis for me. The thoughts & ideas I encountered were so incongruent with my own that I began searching for new ways to express my spiritual self. I felt like the word “Christian” had been hijacked & was no longer a fitting description.
This was one of the driving influences for writing my novel, Heaven. It’s irreverent because I felt an irreverence to the brand of Christianity I was encountering. The novel is about the nature of God as seen through the eyes of an exotic dancer. People have asked me, “Why a stripper?” Because the lead character, Eve, is stripping off the brand. That brand of Christianity that I felt like I was experiencing and that I still see so prevalent in our culture.
There’s a quote that’s been attributed to Ghandi. I don’t know if he actually said it or not. “I like your Christ, but I don’t like your Christians.” It’s not my intent to lump every Christian into the same category, because we all have different thoughts and ideas. This isn’t so much a categorization of people as it is a description of a brand of religious thought.
Interestingly, as I studied other religions & scientific thought, my beliefs changed & broadened to encompass, not less God, but more of God – a much larger God capable of embracing all people, everywhere, engaged in every type of sacred thought.
Did I feel a sense of fear that I was losing my “belief”? Yes, I did. But the payoff was that I grew – as a spiritual being having a human experience.
6:36 – SONG: “Heaven” – written & performed by Kimberly Cain, from the soundtrack to the novel (available only as a bonus included in the book. Get it here: Heaven, the novel & cd or on ITunes as a single.
I’ve come to see belief as a function of the mind – & the circumstances that inform the mind change over time, so it stands to reason that extremely painful experiences can challenge our beliefs. Cultural shifts & new discoveries in science, history, medicine, psychology, & so on, can also bring new perspectives on our long-held beliefs. Unless we want to hold so rigidly to beliefs that no longer serve us & actually prevent us from growing & living up to our potential, we may have to experience some pain with these shifts.
If belief is a function of the mind…faith is a function of the spirit. It doesn’t rely on circumstances or knowledge, from the intellect. Don’t worry – we don’t have to throw out the mind & get weird about “blind faith” being a danger here. I’m talking about the higher principle of Love at work – as an energy that is pervasive, regardless of what anyone believes or understands at any point in time.
I learned, when writing Heaven, that there is an inherent mystery in the Divine, that cannot be captured & put on paper or into speech. It cannot be apprehended by any person & explained in human terms. It can only be experienced. And this experience leaves a knowing. Not a knowing of any fact or belief. Just simply a knowing of its existence (in whatever form you want to describe it – because it is formless – so any form is only what you assign to it.)
The deeper the painful experiences of my life have been, the deeper my faith has grown, because the Divine has revealed itself in these times – when I’ve been most vulnerable, most wounded. It has shown me that it is always there. Always. And that is a profound comfort. It is the deepest feeling of peace & the highest expression of joy.
The best way I can describe the experience of the Divine – I call God. You may call it by another name. What’s important is a commitment to a journey of discovering it for yourself. On my journey, I’ve encountered so many beautiful sacred texts from the various world religions, inspiring works of music, literature, & art, scientific “evidence” of great mysteries, awe-inspiring wonders in nature. And what has stood out as the most powerful encounter is that of the Christ.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth & the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He was a man who understood the principles of truth & life in the highest order. He knew that the truth of eternal Love is the highest level of abundant life. The Father – the original seed – the head of the totem pole, the big bang, etc. – not in the sense of a patriarchal figure that rules. And not in the sense of a gatekeeper who determines whether you’re allowed into a physical space called Heaven or not.
Again, I’m sharing my experience, as it may be a help to you.
As I’ve embraced the experiences of Jesus, the man, I’ve been able to connect with him in my spirit. Here’s what I mean by that – in the same way we feel about anyone we’ve loved, who has passed on, we think of them – the things we did with them in life, the ways they’ve inspired or helped us, the things they taught us, they way they loved us. We can “feel” it. It’s not just a thought. It’s an energy that’s with us forever. They live on in us.
Jesus said, “I am with you always.” I feel his presence when I intentionally connect with his life & the experiences he shared to guide his friends, his loved ones. He taught about his connection to his spiritual home, his spiritual Father, his Source.
That same Source can be counted on to come to us in our spirits, to remind us of who we are. That same Source can be counted on to “raise us from the dead” when we experience pain & suffering. That Source never imposes itself on us, but is always there when we decide to invite it into our awareness, to help us understand that we are more powerful than we could ever imagine when we connect to Divine Love.
This is Easter. It’s a symbol of resurrection, rebirth, & new life. Connected to Christ, you are a new creation. You are made new because the knowing that awakens in your spirit changes you. Using the Christ energy, you have the power to pick yourself up day after day to begin again, to become the best you were created to be, & to live a life of peace & joy – no matter what your circumstances. You have nothing to prove. You just have the freedom to be.
Belief can chain you to a system or a past that prevents you from growing & expanding. Non-belief can do the same thing. Faith opens the door to freedom.
I’ll play a song for you, written & performed by my sister Kelly Brown. It’s on the Local Honey CD, Late Bloomer. Accompanying her on guitar is Rhett Butler, & Reggie Rueffer on violin, all of whom you’ve heard here on the podcast.
You’ll hear, in this song, the expression of belief as faith itself. This is “Believe” from Local Honey.
18:49 – SONG: “Believe” – Kelly Brown & Local Honey from Late Bloomer.
I have faith that I will continue to experience resurrection from life’s sorrows. I have faith that restoration of relationships will occur through the power of Love. I have faith that renewal & rejuvenation will follow the dark nights of the soul.
I love this description of faith in this verse from Hebrews 11:1 – “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
I hope that you will feel a sense of resurrection and rebirth this Easter, that you have the freedom to bring new life into yourself every day. And as I’ve shared, connecting with the energy of the Christ is the most powerful thing that I’ve ever seen and found for doing this.
Free Video from the online course, Beyond Religion: How to Pray & Get Answers