I believe in God.
I believe in Jesus.
And of course, I believe in the Holy Spirit.
But I find it easiest to believe in Jesus. A real man, the Gospels tell us, someone you can picture. Someone you could get your arms around.
Well, maybe not. He calls us “friends,” but I instinctively draw back from the presumption of such closeness.
Still, he puts the invitation out there. Delivers it, directly to my heart. It’s an invitation I cannot ignore. An invitation that waits for my response.
This is what Love does. It waits for response, a Yes, a commitment to believe, and then, courageously, to press forward.
I deeply believe in Jesus—teacher, healer, prophet, Son of the Most High, besotted with his Father’s mission of love and redemption.
But do I believe Jesus?
To actually believe Jesus demands an audacity of faith, which impels the audacity of action.
Believing Jesus is no neutral act. As one who is baptized and anointed in the Spirit of the risen Christ, I must audaciously dare to believe him, or just go away.
Maybe some do go away because they do not find Christian community living fiercely at the edge of the wave where Jesus is. Maybe our Sunday morning “I believe” sounds a little flat and unconvincing, a little disengaged.
Maybe some leave because they find no one to accompany them to the fierce edge of the wave, no one to apprentice them.
I get that. And I also stand convicted.
Something shifts when I move from asking myself: Do I believe Jesus? to stating clearly: I believe him. A definitive, no-hedging-your-bets statement. A declarative statement that advances me from the comfort and safety of discipleship to the arduous work of apostleship.
What shifts is this: I actually accept the invitation to go where he goes, to live by the same moral compass, to love fiercely with the same divine love.
Right now I sit on the park bench outside the entrance to my church, soaking in the warmth and beauty of this Sunday morning. I ponder the astonishing reality of the blood of the crucified and risen Lord which flows in my veins, not just in the moments of communion but at all times.
And I ponder the unexpected and beautiful ways the Spirit of the risen Christ breathes in me, and through me. Not generally speaking, but in this unexpected conversation, in that noticed turn of events, in the way one thing just perfectly leads to the next right thing.
I believe Jesus when he says, to me, “I am the resurrection, and the life.”
I believe Jesus when he says, to me, “If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you can ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.”
When he says to me, as he once said to Peter, “Come!” I lean with all the weight of my being into his invitation. As he did with Peter, he bids me, again and again, to hoist myself out of the boat of all that is predictable, and familiar, and comfortable. He bids me to walk toward him, now, on new uncertain surfaces. So that I can be where he is, and go where he goes.
I have come to believe Jesus. And I am still coming to believe Jesus. It’s a lifelong process, I discover, this coming to believe Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life.
I take Jesus at his word.
Taking him at his word is not complicated, unless I make it complicated with all the reasons why I can’t, why it’s impractical, or just too risky.
But, I take him at his word. And therefore I am free to rise up in joy, and free to act. Free to notice, free to be changed. Free to rise up and act.
Mary Sharon Moore writes and speaks nationwide on
the nature of God’s calling in our times.