I have a simple question for you today: Do you believe Jesus?
That may seem simplistic, but a lot of times we focus on a different question. We talk about believing in Jesus.
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Believing in something is an interesting grammatical construction. We mostly use it to express a confidence in the existence of an invisible thing.
Do you believe in ghosts? Germs? Democracy? True love?
We also use it to express confidence or support for something. We might tell someone, “I believe in you,” meaning we have confidence in their ability to perform.
The thing is that we can believe in God and not know Him. We can both have confidence that God exists and have confidence in His abilities, and not have any relationship with Him. We can believe in God and go to hell.
We can believe in Jesus—that He existed, that He’s super cool—and still spend eternity separated from Him.
The Apostle James reflected this reality when he wrote, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” (James 2:19, NIV)
Believing in Jesus isn’t enough. Believing in won’t grow your faith.
Here’s a better question: Do you believe Jesus?
When Jesus said stuff, do you agree with it?
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14: 6) Do you believe Him?
Jesus said, “Believe me that I am in the Father and Father is in me…” (John 14:11) Well, do you?
What does believe mean when we use it this way? It means that you have decided to agree with what Jesus said. Have you decided to agree with what the Bible says?
The interesting thing about this question, “Do you believe?” is that it challenges us to grow in our faith in specific ways.
Hopefully you believe in Jesus, but that’s a very big, general thing. You can’t stop there. Do you believe Jesus? forces you to examine the specific claims that Jesus made. It forces you to drill down into the nitty-gritty of your faith.
When you encounter something that Jesus said that you have difficulty believing, Hallelujah!, rejoice, because you have found an opportunity to grow in your faith.
I am on a continual journey of choosing to believe Jesus—of coming more and more into agreement with Him. I am in the business of ferreting out doubt in my own heart and choosing to agree with what Jesus said, again and again.
I read the Bible and actively choose to agree that it’s true. Even the stuff that’s really far outside of my own experience.
Sometimes I forget, sometimes the circumstances of life try to steal my agreement, sometimes in my growing I can see something I couldn’t see before. But this choosing to agree never stops. There is no end to it.
When I find something that Jesus said that I don’t fully believe—maybe I can’t swallow it or I try to explain it away with fancy theology—that’s a good day. Because I’ve found something that I can work on. I have an opportunity to grow in that area.
Believing in Jesus is easy. Believing Him is the hard part. He said some really wild stuff. (When you’re ready, check out John 14:12-14.)
And do you believe, as in do you agree, has always been the question, throughout all of history.
In the Garden of Eden, the devil never challenged the existence of God. Eve was never tempted to stop believing in God. She was tempted with a choice of who to believe—who to agree with.
God said, “I’ve given you every good thing you need. This one tree is no good for you.” (My paraphrase)
Satan said, “God is withholding something good from you. The one tree is the best tree.”
Eve decided what to believe. She decided which entity she thought was telling the truth. She chose who she wanted to agree with.
I hope that you believe in Jesus. I hope that you believe He existed and that you believe He continues to exist with power and authority. As you walk out that faith, I hope that you’ll challenge yourself to really be honest about the ways that you do and do not believe Him, so that you can root out the doubt and make a choice to agree.
Jesus had a lot to say about Himself, about the Father, about what we should experience as His followers. You have a lot of work ahead of you. This choosing to believe—choosing to agree—will be your life’s most important work.
But it’s worth it. God has wonderful things in store for those who truly believe.
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