Creeds start with “I believe.” Sometimes they start with “We believe.” Never with “You believe.”
I mention creeds because I decided to spend November looking at an early form of the Apostles Creed, one from sometime before 341.
I didn’t grow up with a creed. When we visited my grandparents, we read the Apostles Creed. It contains the line “one holy catholic church.” I never read that line. I thought that Catholics were on some other side. I didn’t think that we believed in them.
I believe in Catholics now.
(And I know there is a difference in the creed between Catholic and catholic, between a brand and a word that means the whole church.)
I know that saying “I believe” is a difficult thing when we don’t believe in almost anything. We don’t trust much of anything, certainly anything institutional. And a creed is about as institutional as you can get.
But for the past month or so, I’ve not been able to get a line from a song out of my head. Rich Mullins wrote a song based on the Apostle’s Creed. In the chorus he says, “I believe what I believe is what makes me who I am. I did not make it; no, it is making me.”
I’m made by what I believe. Even on days that I don’t believe.
Because here’s the truth. There are days, there are moments, that I don’t even think about a creed. If I were a creed-saying person, I’d say ” I believe” but you’d look at my behavior and say, “no you don’t.” And I’d agree.
But I believe truth is outside me. Creeds start outside. And work their way in. And start in our mouths and work their way into our hands. And start in our heart’s desire.