Belief and Behavior
Have you ever thought about the connection between what one believes and how one behaves? What might we learn about someone by watching their behavior over a protracted period of time? All of us are really open books and to the observant we can be read fairly easily.
Your world view, the things you believe to be true about life, about yourself, about God, about why you are here, etc, etc, form the platform on which you live out your life. Beliefs are very powerful in this regard. Beliefs can lead someone to spend their life caring for AIDS victims in Africa, or on the other hand, lead another to drive a plane into a building killing thousands of people. These two very opposite behaviors both spring from a foundational belief system and world view.
The person confined to a padded room and straight jacket, thinking the CIA have surrounded his room, and the young dad, just home from a hard day’s work, playing with his young son on the carpet, are both acting from a belief system that has come to define their view of life, reality, and help shape their behavior.
What we have come to believe and accept as true, as reality, shapes our lives in ways we aren’t even aware of most of the time. Observe you own life. Make note of your actions and choices over a period of time. What might they reveal about what you really believe or at least what your true core values are? I understand any of us can act “out of character” at times, but our behavior over the long haul always tells the truth.
Herein lays the importance of truth, and true reality, as it relates to the process of spiritual formation. Jesus said it beautifully, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. In another place he made this amazing declaration, “I have come to give testimony to the truth”. When John is introducing Jesus in his gospel, he makes this breathtaking pronouncement, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”. When it comes to the things that contribute most to our spiritual formation, grace and truth are right up there at the top of the list, and both are embodied in the person of Christ.
Jesus lived and taught a new reality. He brought a radical new paradigm of truth that resulted in turning the world “upside down”, or should we say right side up. The truth he embodied became the dividing point of human history. A whole new way of viewing God and his relationship to people shook the known world then and continues to shake it today. Those who embraced him by faith became carriers of this new reality…this belief system….this world view….this truth, and the world has never been the same.
The challenge for us who are followers of Jesus is to make sure we are seeing (believing) from his point of reference. One of my favorite quotes comes from my pastor, Bill Johnson, who says, “Jesus is perfect theology”. Oh, so true! On the other hand, bad theology has lead to all kinds of horrific and idiotic acts of behavior.
If we wish to be apprentices of Jesus who become like him in his actions than it is imperative we think like him – that our view of reality is his view of reality. This is what it means to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. When my belief system and world view becomes shaped by Truth (by Jesus), in such a way that my thoughts, emotions and actions are deeply impacted, then I can expect my behavior to become increasingly more like his.
“…… as he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17b NKJV)