“Having God” or “believing in God”

By Dave Henning / September 5, 2013

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” -Mark 9: 24

In Chapter 10 of Who is This Man?, author John Ortberg states that Rome- and the ancient world in general- could not make sense of or categorize Christianity.  By Roman definition, religions were associated with cities and regions, so Christianity was not recognized as a religion.  Robert Wilkins writes in The Christians as the Romans Saw Them that to the Romans religion was both social and political:

“One did not speak of ‘believing in gods’ but in ‘having gods’.  The idea of ‘conversion’- that is, a conscious and individual decision to embrace a certain creed of life- was totally foreign to the ancients.”

Pastor Ortberg adds that, to the ancient world, Christianity was like Winston Churchill’s description of Russia- “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”  In fact, the Romans actually called Christians atheists because they neglected the Roman gods.

As we journey through our desert, transition time following our ministry downsizing or vocation loss, do we “have” Jesus in the sense of One who vaguely is present but not actively involved in our situation?  Or, is our “belief” in Jesus so strong and intentional that those around us take notice and/or puzzle how our faith  grows stronger despite all circumstances to the contrary?

Today’s question:  Which description, “having” or “believing”, most accurately characterizes your current spiritual condition?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “A delicate balance”

About the author

Dave Henning

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