Spiritual practice: Believe
There is a significant difference between those things that we think about and those things that we believe. For example, if someone thought about the world coming to an end in 2012, they may ask some questions or even worry a little. But that is significantly different than someone who chose to believe that the world would end. Very few people conduct themselves in exactly the same manner when facing an impending death. Belief shapes action.
But don’t we face an impending death? No, we may not know when, but we know we will. Right? So how do we live our lives? Believing that this physical body will face a physical end? Believing that our spirit will face a spiritual future? Or do we believe that we already live in a reality that holds ultimate meaning, ultimate purpose? Is this it?
Our beliefs are often unspoken, but they are not invisible. In fact, it is in speaking our beliefs that we sometimes confront our own inconsistencies. We may speak our beliefs and realize the significance of our failure. If we believe that there is no hope for rescue from our failure, we may believe that we should not share our failure. If we believe that the world around us will prey on our weakness, we will fiercely guard those shortcomings from coming to light.
But what if we believe the words of John 5:24?
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
Jesus said these words in the midst of an explanation to the Jewish leaders. He had been questioned concerning the healing that took place on a Sabbath. Fortunately for us, and unlike us, Jesus did not leave his beliefs unspoken. His words and actions matched. He lived love and lived loved. Jesus knows the weight of the truth of his words. He knows that our belief place us on one side of the chasm of sin or the other. He also knows that he is the bridge. Just two verses prior, Jesus shared these words in John 5:22,23:
“Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.”
Do we believe that? In order to stand with the Father, we must be judged by the Son. And that judgment is simple: do you need him, or not? The healing that had taken place on that Sabbath was of a lame man by the pool. The healing was offered; the man was told to get up. He did, and realized his healing. But what if he had never stood up as Jesus commanded? (There is another subject that could be dissected – obedience to the words of Christ – but that will have to wait.) What if the man didn’t like being told what to do? What if he preferred to keep doing daily exercises until he had the strength to stand on his own? What if he believed that this seemingly ordinary person of Jesus could not heal him?
Unspoken, maybe, but belief is never invisible. The man stood up. We read a few verses after this that he had no idea who Jesus was. I love that. We, okay “I”, often believe that we must first tell someone all about Jesus so that they can be healed. Don’t we? We believe that someone who has not met Jesus must first hear all about the technical details of Jesus: “He did this, but not that…he’s God, but human too…he did this and that for me..”
According to my actions, it might appear that I believe Jesus is just one of many options on eEternity..the site where people can choose their healer. It’s fair to say that those around me would be much better off if I helped them meet Jesus, not blabber on about Jesus. If a lame man can be healed without even knowing it was Jesus, what makes me think that has changed?
It hasn’t, but sometimes we need to reflect on our actions to reveal our beliefs. Don’t spend a day evaluating your beliefs. That is a waste of time. Either you believe something or you don’t. If the man had believed Jesus could not heal him, perhaps he would have just kept being brought to the pool, unaware that he could walk. I say “perhaps” because we do not know. He chose to believe. Does it say that? Yes.
“At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.” (v. 9a)
Are you walking, or are you sitting? Your actions will tell you. So if you choose to reflect on your beliefs today, simply evaluate your actions. The Son of God has spoken healing. Live it.