Vol 2:10 Believing and Mission: Believing in God or Believing God

Would we leave all that we have, where our life has been established, where we have our relationships, our livelihood, our comforts and routines, to be part of that to which God calls us?

That is what Abram did in Genesis 12: “The LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” In calling, God revealed a promise: “. . . all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Verse 4 relates: “So Abram went, as the LORD has told him.”

Later on when Abram wondered how God would bless all peoples through him, especially since he and Sarai were childless, God described what God would do. Then we hear what transformed Abram’s life (though he still needed to live into the new reality God called him into) – “Abram believed the LORD, and God credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

I think we often get it wrong when it comes to believing. As North Americans we spend much of our time thinking about what we believe – saying we believe in God. But that is to miss the point in my estimation. Believing in God has everything to do with us and how we interpret Scripture, how we see God, what we are willing to believe about God and also what we are not. We give shape to our faith, our believing.

This will not get us very far in being a missional people – we will frame mission in terms of what we are comfortable with doing, rather than participating with God in God’s redemptive mission.

But what distinguishes Abram (later Abraham) is that he not only believed in God (what), but we read that “he believed God” (who). This is a different kind of relationship with believing. The what kind of believing puts us in control, where we can set the agenda for our faith, what we do with it and so forth. However, the who kind of faith involves a yielding of ourselves to God and God’s leading in our lives. It becomes about God, rather than about us.

Believing God has everything to do with entering into a trust relationship with God, communing with God in which God is setting the agenda for our living, for the direction of our involvement in mission. Believing God, rather than merely believing in God recognizes that it is God who is directing our paths, that God is the initiator of mission, and we are called to trust God to lead and guide us in where God chooses to send us.

It is a way of believing in which we are at God’s disposal, rather than God being at our disposal. I suspect that much of our North American faith is comfortable with God being at our disposal – for God to bless us.

Believing God also shapes our practices differently than merely believing in God. When we believe in God we engage in prayer, reflection, conversation in ways that are more focused on a spirituality that is largely a journey of self-development – God is a “tool” for our development as persons. However, when we believe God – we open our lives to God, for God to work in and through us in the power of the Spirit – becoming like Jesus – not so much as a work we do in ourselves, but as a work that the Spirit of God does in us as we live in obedience to the God whom we trust, to the God whom we believe in order for God to accomplish the purposes of God somehow engaging us.

Believing God engages us in mission – God’s mission, in which we seek to serve God who so loves the world; any other kind of believing is to seek a God whom we want to support our causes, our agendas. What kind of faith is your faith?

iMissional.org | Roland Kuhl