You might have seen the remake of the classic movie Miracle on 34th Street back during the Christmas season. One of the great zingers at the end of the movie is that the two “henchmen” of the big bad villain are each secretly wearing buttons that boldly proclaim “I BELIEVE,” referring of course to a belief in Santa Claus.
There are many who would liken a belief in God to a belief in Santa Claus. “I believe God is more of a feeling than a real being.” “That’s for kids. Haven’t you grown up yet?” “You’re a bit naïve to believe all that stuff.” “I used to believe in God, until…” But like those in the movie, I’m not so timid or scared to tell you that I believe in God. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16, NKJV).
Before I get too far ahead, I should probably make clear a few details about the “God” I am talking about. He isn’t a cosmic force, though He is spirit (see John 4:24). He is the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit, three in one. He is merciful, but His wrath is fierce. He is love, but He is angered by sin. This God is not the same as Buddha, or Allah, or any other “god;” they are not the same being with different names. He is altogether different, the one true God.
I could go on and on, so I’ll move along…
Some of us think we believe in God. “I went to church as a kid.” “Yeah, I was baptized.” “I pray, when I’m deep trouble.” “I go to church on Easter and Christmas.” But a close examination of our lives in these cases – how we treat each other, our family, ourselves – it becomes obvious that God’s impact in our lives is minimal, or non-existent. The fact is we never really knew Him.
Others refuse to believe in God. Unfortunately, not believing in something, or believing incorrectly, does not make something untrue. For centuries mankind believed the Earth was the center of the universe, with the moon, the sun, the planets and stars all revolving around us. We also believed that the Earth is flat. I’m sure Christopher Columbus was thanking God when hit dry land instead of falling off the edge of the ocean.
Some of us don’t care if God is real or not. His existence is inconsequential; we don’t think He’ll either help or hinder us in our lives, or in whatever exists (if anything) after life. The common thread is that we believe in ourselves – our intelligence, feelings, or other inner quality. But what have we really accomplished for ourselves at the end of the day? Is my bank account full, and my house large, and my car a gas-guzzler? Do I have the chiseled abs and the beauty queen wife? If we’ve made it, if we have achieved what everyone wants, why do we kill ourselves working to gain the next great thing?
And then there are those of us who choose to believe. What makes us so different? Did the sky split open and the voice of God come down to us from Heaven, telling us to go to church and give our hearts to God? Was I driving on the highway and have lightning strike my car, blowing out my eardrums for a week and destroying my vehicle?
If you don’t believe, what would it take for you to do so? My God created the universe out of nothing, ordering it so precisely that science is amazed at the exactness of it. He clothes the flowers with beauty, points the rivers in their courses, raises the mountain peaks and scatters the stars across the night sky. My God cared so much for me, separated from Him simply because the first man disobeyed Him, and gave His one and only Son so that He could show His love for me, that I might respond and be adopted as one of His own.
There are 72 times in the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) that Jesus makes a statement about believing in Him. He never said that He would give us all of the answers, or take away all of our troubles, fill our bank accounts, pay off our debts, or give us the greatest job in the world. But He did tell us to believe in Him, to believe and be rescued from judgment, to have that life that is more abundant – maybe not picture perfect or the pinnacle of success that those around us crave, but true life. Won’t you believe?
“For if you tell others with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord and believe in your own heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in his heart that a man becomes right with God; and with his mouth he tells others of his faith, confirming his salvation” (Romans 10:9-10, TLB).
[To make things interesting, if you do believe, tell us how you came to believe in Him.]