Creed: a set of beliefs or aims which guide someone’s actions.
We all have a belief system. Our belief system is deeply rooted inside us, and governs every aspect of our life.
Where does this belief system come from? It starts with our earliest childhood lessons.
As a child, you don’t have any choice about what you are taught. Your primary care-givers (parents for most of us) are the ones who set the initial foundations for your beliefs. What they teach you (or don’t teach you) will shape and mould you (added onto by other people and experiences over time), until finally you reach adulthood where you inevitably live outwardly the beliefs you hold inwardly.
If you were taught the right things, you will enter adulthood with a belief system that will set you up for success. Life will still be full of challenges, but you can navigate them with a lot more ease than the person who has been taught the wrong things.
If you were taught the wrong things, you have two choices. Continue life according to your wrong belief system, or change. It takes time and effort, but, demolishing a weak foundation, and re-building a new strong foundation, is possible.
But how do you know if you are taught the wrong things? You will know. There will be a moment (or several moments) in life where you will just know deep inside that there is a right way and wrong way to do life. You will see clearly where those who raised you may have (intentionally or unintentionally) steered you wrong. And it is there that you will need to make your own decision. Do I keep going along this path I’m currently on, or do I choose the other path?
The thing is, no matter what you choose to do, the fruit of your life will eventually display the person you truly are.
“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thorn bushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” (Luke 6:43-45)
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I am a PK (Preacher’s Kid). My father was an Anglican Minister. But I was raised in a home in which religion, rather than relationship with God, was the focus. There is a huge difference between the two.
On the surface my parents seemed to have it right…we had a ‘picture perfect’ Christian home. But at some point in my childhood I began to sense that something was wrong with that picture.
Where my parents’ belief in God should have drawn me closer towards Him, encouraging me to also want to know this God of theirs…it only served to push me away. By the time I was half-way through high school I wanted nothing to do with God. But since I was still under my parents’ authority, I just pretended. I said and did all the right things because I knew to openly rebel would mean severe discipline. In my heart however I was struggling. Struggling to accept that the misery I felt as a “Christian” was to be my lot in life. If that was the case, then I didn’t want to be a Christian.
I wanted out! Out of Church, and out of my family!!
The lie I was living was eating me up inside. While outwardly I said and did what I knew would make my parents happy, inwardly I was angry, I was hurting, I was broken. I couldn’t wait to leave home and ‘get away from all the hypocrisy’.
As soon as I finished high school, I moved interstate for University. I was 17 years old. I had been raised in a strict and sheltered home…I had no idea what I was walking into out there in the big wide world. Orientation week was quite the culture shock I tell you!!
Initially I attempted to carry on with my ‘good Christian girl’ facade, but it didn’t take long before cracks appeared on the surface.
I began to do and say all the things I had never been allowed to do and say while I was at home under my parents’ ever watchful eyes. I deluded myself into thinking that it was ok. And I convinced myself that I could do and say what I wanted all week so long as I made the obligatory appearance at Bible Study and Church once a week. I lived this life for 3 years.
Then I got a job teaching in China. So I packed my belongings (Bible included…because you know, keeping up appearances and all that!), left my fiancé behind, and headed off to have one last ‘single adventure’ before settling down to married life.
It was while there, physically and emotionally separated from all that was familiar, that my eyes opened and I saw myself for who and what I really was. I didn’t like what I saw.
But then I also started seeing something else. I saw God for the first time. Really saw Him. Not as I had seen Him all those years through my parents eyes, or the eyes of former Church leaders (some of whom also had a part to play in portraying Christianity as a religion…this wrong teaching wasn’t just coming from my parents).
I began reading my Bible, really reading it for the first time. And I found something incredible. I found a God that I couldn’t help but fall in love with!
In the year 2000, in The People’s Republic of China (oh the irony that God had to send me into a communist country to get my attention!), the Creator of the Universe came and rocked my world. His light reached down into my darkness, and His love drew me to His heart. I returned to Australia eager to start my life as a real Christian.
It’s now been been 20 years since I started this walk of faith with God. In that time I’ve had to ‘unlearn’ a lot of the things I had been previously taught about Him. But slowly and surely God has chipped away at the faulty foundations that were laid down in my childhood, removed them, and replaced them with His Truth.
It is this Truth that has given me a whole new belief system that now directs my life.
Today I call myself a Christian not from any sense of duty or because I was “raised in a Christian home”. I call myself a Christian because that is what I really am.
The word Christian means “follower of Christ”. That is who I am. A follower of Jesus Christ.
I have chosen, of my own accord, to have a relationship with Jesus because I believe He is who He says He is, and I both need and want Him in my life.
When I was a little girl in the Anglican Church, I often had to recite the Apostles Creed. Back then it meant nothing to me, it was just one more item on the long list of things I had to learn as a ‘good Church girl’. But today I say these words with all sincerity, because I fully understand what this statement of faith means.