I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. [1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NLT)]
When visiting our mountain church last year, we sang one of Hillsong United’s hits: This I Believe (The Creed). I don’t think I’ve ever been more enthusiastic when declaring my faith in our triune God and it was a joy to sing out my belief. Recitation of the creeds is usually not a part of that church’s worship service and it was wonderful to have the whole congregation join in loudly singing a united statement of our faith.
I believe in life eternal; I believe in the virgin birth.
I believe in the saints’ communion And in Your holy Church.
I believe in the resurrection When Jesus comes again,
For I believe, in the name of Jesus. …
I believe in God our Father. I believe in Christ the Son.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, Our God is three in one.
I believe in the resurrection – That we will rise again,
For I believe in the name of Jesus.
[“This I Believe (The Creed)” by Hillsong United]
The Nicene and Apostle’s Creeds are the most universally accepted and recognized statements of the Christian faith and many of us regularly recite one of these creeds during worship. Unfortunately, we may say the same words so frequently that it’s easy to have them roll off our tongues without engaging our brains. Last month, during the Father’s Day service, our pastor exchanged the traditional Apostle’s Creed with a paraphrased version. Using different words to say essentially the same thing made me think about what I actually was declaring. That creed’s source is unknown, it isn’t an official part of our church’s doctrine or worship service, and its words aren’t over 1600 years old as are those in the traditional creeds. Nevertheless, its words are a beautiful interpretation of those ancient statements of faith.
We believe in God, the one who comes before us and goes behind us, creating life and opportunities to love and care for the world. We believe in Jesus Christ who walks with us into real life each day. He is God, yet human like us and experienced all life’s joys and pains and challenges like we do. But his love is so great that not sin nor suffering nor even death could stop it. Today the love of Jesus lives and continues to bring new life to the world. We believe in the Holy Spirit who comes like the wind and blows in and through us to bring God’s power and light to all the world. The Spirit breathes life into us, the body of Christ we call the church, and enables us to follow the way of Christ. We believe in God, who goes before and behind, with, in, and through us, bringing hope and life and newness to the world. Amen [Source Unknown]
What is it you believe? We’re told to be ready to explain why we have the hope we have and our Christian creeds are a good place to start. As we’ve seen, they can be simplified and paraphrased. They answer the simple question, “What does it mean to be a Christian?”