(After writing my last post, I went back through the archives to revisit my past thoughts on what it is to believe. Not surprisingly, I’ve been round this mountain a few times over the years. But the following post on the work to believe is a good bridge to where I’m going next, and as such, I’m posting it again. Some things bear repeating, I think!)
Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the One He has sent.”
John 6:29 NLT
BELIEVE: to accept something as true, genuine or real; to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy or ability of something
CONVICTION: a strong persuasion or belief; the state of being convinced
Belief is the result of choice. I choose what to accept in my life. I choose whether to be persuaded one way or another. What do I rely on for provision? Who do I trust? Where do I turn when I’m in trouble? Who do I love? I CHOOSE, always, and in every single aspect of my life.
I Choose to Take Up My Work to Believe
John 6:29 is a loaded verse. The Amplified Bible tells us that the work to believe is to “cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger.” That covers everything that will EVER come up in my relationship with God. Every time the Cross has ever come to me, it was on the ground of my unbelief. The Cross exposes, confronts, and kills my unbelief wherever it nests – but only IF I choose.
I’d like to talk about family in the context of the Cross. The Holy Spirit exposed my worship of family, and pointed me to the Cross. I BELIEVED in my family. I trusted them with my pain and my true self, relied on them for companionship and comfort, clung to them as a sanctuary of belonging when I got scared, and had faith that they would be there for me if I needed them. I thanked God for my family and called them God’s provision. And they were – but God saw that I idolized my family. My love for them wasn’t God’s love, clean and free. I was entangled and the Spirit brought it to the Light.
The Cross came and I had to choose: God or my family. I didn’t know what would happen or how it would look or what it would mean for my daily life. And I had to make a choice, despite not knowing what God would do. Would I say “yes” and embrace the Cross, letting it kill my family ties, my love, my trust, my reliance? Would I trust that God is good in every way, even when He breaks my heart?
The Cross and My Work to Believe
I howled my way through this particular Cross-encounter. There was an actual physical agony, because the root of my idolatry (my belief) in my family was so deep. THIS is the Cross! “But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Peter 4:13). Christ suffered the agony of surrendering His will to the Father in Gethsemane. If you can speak of the Cross casually, or with some tra-la-la, “It was easy because I love God so!” then I I’m not sure you’ve ever met the Cross in your life. Jesus wept and sweated blood and wailed and pleaded with God to spare Him. Did He not love His Father? Beware anyone who claims to bypass Gethsemane and sets themselves above the Son of God.
I choose what to believe and WHOM to believe. Every day. That’s what makes it my work to believe, to hold fast to God’s promises though they seem impossible. It is a labor of love to trust God’s move in my life when the enemy attacks with a barrage of doubt. I have a real and functioning relationship with God, and that’s why I have a choice in taking up my work to believe in Him.