According to the famous atheist researcher and professor, Daniel Dennett, many Christians actually don’t have faith. Many Christians really do not believe. What they believe in is belief in belief.
Now, I have to admit when I first read his boo Breaking the Spell, I was flabbergasted by this claim. However, when I looked at my own life, I realized the genius of this man. He hit the nail right on the head.
For the longest time, I was living my spiritual life in terms of belief in belief. In other words, I look at my Catholic religion and my Catholic upbringing as something that is essentially just part of my identity. Of course, I would defend that identity to the death but, ultimately, it was very superficial because while I know the fundamental tenets of the faith, as well as important doctrinal and dogma, deep down inside, it did not make any personal connection.
It’s kind of like going to med school and learning all these medical concepts, but you only learn them to pass a test, and once you pass the test, you flush all that stuff out because just like with any other job, doctors learn on the job.
This may make sense in the world of professions and occupations, but it doesn’t make any sense in the world of faith. You have to actually believe in what you claim to believe; otherwise, we run the risk of telling Jesus during the Day of Judgment that you did all these amazing things in His name, and that you allowed yourself to be used by Him or who you thought was Him to do all these astounding wonders. However, Jesus then, with a sad expression on His face, looks at you straight in the eye and says, “Sorry, but I don’t know you.”
We have to believe and belief means having a deep personal abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. There are Saints. There is the Catholic hierarchy. There are priests. There’s all that, and that definitely does have a place.
However, if you don’t take care of the most basic truth, which is the relationship with the ultimate truth, which is Jesus Christ and the salvation He brings, everything else doesn’t make any sense. Everything else doesn’t even begin to make sense because it would be pointless.
It would be like enjoying the crust of the pizza but missing out on the gooey and yummy center, which is filled with cheese. Do you see my point here?
Zero in on the center, which is Christ, and ask yourself, do I really have faith? If you don’t have faith, that’s okay because the Bible is there. Talk to your priest. Read your Bible. Fellowship with other young adult Catholics and get inspired to make your belief system something truly yours.
That’s where faith comes in because faith is like a muscle. If you don’t claim it and practice it, it gets weaker and weaker. However, the more you practice it and claim it, you’d be surprised as to how many challenges you would overcome because you have chosen to invest in your faith.
Do yourself a big favor. Crack open that Bible, talk to your parish priest, become more active in your church. This is the lesson I keep telling my kids and all young adults that I minister to.
Oftentimes, to learn something, we have to teach it. So, become active in your local parish. You’d be surprised as to how effective teaching about Jesus is in enriching your own personal relationship with Him.
I wish you nothing but blessings, my brother and sister in Christ.