What do you actually believe?
A few years back I recognized some serious cognitive dissonance within those around me. I gave a brief talk on this to a group of students at a Bible School. It was a hot mess of a speech.. very much back-of-the-napkin sort of prep.. but I still think about it.
My thesis was what I called the Chuck Norris affect.
The idea is that up until 9/11 most Americans had a subconscious belief that when a terrorist took over a plane it would land somewhere and “Chuck Norris” or Delta Force.. or whoever.. would rescue everyone. I don’t exactly what role Chuck Norris’s movies actually played into the this narrative. Maybe it was stories from previous hostage situations, or a bit of both.
But no terrorist stories ended with planes flying into buildings.
When this happened during 9/11 it collectively altered our universal story. There was a complete paradigm shift. Beliefs were altered, there was no going back.
Subsequent hijackings, even on 9/11, resulted in the would be terrorists (or suspected terrorists) were tackled by any means necessary.
Orthodoxy (beliefs) significantly altered Orthopraxy (actions).
I gave another example: Meteorites. No one was really following my thought process during the talk at this point and I don’t blame them. But the thinking is this.. if you really believed a meteorite could hit you at any time.. how would that affect your actions? The idea is the same. If you truly believe something it MUST affect your actions. Knowing the Earth could be hit at any moment is a LOT different than looking up and seeing your impending doom. FYI, you only have 6 seconds once you see it coming.. and don’t count on NASA warning you.
So, what do you really believe?
Do you rrreeeaaalllyy believe when you die you’ll go to heaven? If so, what would that look like as you live your life?
Do you really believe in Hell? Do you really believe loved ones and/or strangers are going to be tortured forever if they missed out on the right beliefs?
Do you really believe it’s our job to care for the poor and oppressed?
Do you really believe you are going to stand before your Creator to give an account of what you have been given?
This is why I think it is fair to judge people by how they act. True beliefs should absolutely change how people act. Now, to be fair, we often don’t know the whole story.. which is why circumstances we shouldn’t judge. Especially if we believe we will be judged using the same measurement we used to judge others..