I have recently been listening to a series of CDs by author/speaker/pastor Erwin McManus. Those of you who also read Neil’s blog will recognize the name. McManus is a dynamic, visionary Christian leader and I have found his words to be incredibly thought-provoking. One of the concepts that he returns to again and again has really gotten me thinking. He proposes that what really matters, what really transforms our lives, is not what we believe in, but what we care about. Further, that we can believe something without caring about it, but that we cannot care about something without believing it. So the questions for us would be these; what do we just believe in and what do we also truly care about? The first connection I made to these questions was in relation to my family’s involvement in the work of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Four years ago, we certainly believed that blood cancer was an awful disease and that something more should be done to fight it. We believed intellectually that money was the answer to further research and an eventual cure. However, our beliefs about that did not motivate us to do anything beyond an occasional donation to the American Cancer Society. However, meeting our little friend Jeffrey changed the way we felt about leukemia. We came to care about Jeffrey and his family. Because of our journey with this family, we have come to care about the fight against leukemia and other blood cancers. Because we now care deeply about it, we choose to give our time and money to this cause in a different way than we did when we simply believed fighting cancer was a good idea. Now, let’s talk about another example that I didn’t recognize quite so quickly. As I further considered the two questions, I started to ask them in the context of my faith journey. What about my faith do I simply believe in and what do I also truly care about? It would be nice if I could say that I care deeply about all the things that I say I believe in, but that would be dishonest. There are aspects of the Christian faith that probably have not made their way from my head to my heart yet. However, in thinking about this over a period of weeks, I think I did come up with one powerful, life-changing example. In the past 6 or 7 years, I have come to care deeply about something that I have believed in for a much longer time…an essential component of my Christian faith…the Holy Bible. Now, I hope I haven’t shocked any of you dear readers (both of you) by suggesting that prior to the past few years I didn’t care about the bible. Of course, I “cared” about the bible. I was raised to believe that the bible is the inspired word of God and a source of wisdom. Since childhood, I have turned to the bible in times of trouble and have enjoyed the bible for the history it tells of God’s interaction with His people. I memorized a great deal of scripture as a teenager and have been grateful for the verses that actually stuck. But, just between you and me, I’m not sure I always saw the bible as terribly relevant to my day to day life. In addition, I had seen too many people whom I then labeled as “fundamentalists” use the bible as a weapon of judgement and shame; certainly nothing with which I wanted to be associated. So, I enjoyed the occasional Hallmark card bible verses that made me feel good, and mostly left the intensive study of God’s word to the professionals. But, thank God (literally!) that is not the end of the story. Through a series of events that I can see now were completely orchestrated by God, I found my way back to the bible. Initially, through the inspired teaching of Pastor Rob in our early days at CPC, and later through more regular involvement in group bible studies, the bible began to come alive for me. Passages that I had read many times before were illuminated in new ways by the Holy Spirit. As I learned more, I became hungry for more. As I became willing to dig deeper, the Lord has blessed that willingness by giving me a new understanding of how very relevant His word is in every aspect of my life. And through the group bible studies, I have seen others experiencing the same thing. Over and over again, I have listened to bible study attendees who have attended church their whole life, but never before knew the Power found within the pages of this incredible book. The exciting thing is that we will never learn all there is to learn about the bible, because the Word of God is a living thing (Hebrews 4:12) that God uses to transform us into the people that He wants us to be. There is much in the bible that I still don’t understand, but I definitely care enough now to keep digging and trust that the Lord will give me understanding in His time. And that caring, not just believing, is making a difference in my life in powerful ways. In this case, the difference between just believing and truly caring is all the difference in the world…the difference between head knowledge and heart Knowing. So back to the questions with which we started. What do we believe in? And what do we care enough about to allow it to change the way we live? What do we care enough about to give it our time and attention? What teachings in the bible do we say we believe and which ones do we truly care about as well? And how do we live out our caring about these things that we believe? Sounds like lots of good topics for future blog entries! I shared two examples from my life, but I would love to hear more about your answers to these questions! And remember, you can always leave anonymous comments if you are feeling shy about responding publicly.