It seems everyone has an opinion on everything. From things that seem silly like does Bigfoot really exist to serious matters like how to be good stewards of this planet and how to be good stewards also of this life we’ve been granted. The truth is, believing in Bigfoot doesn’t make him exist and merely disbelieving the legend doesn’t make him a myth. The truth of whether he is or isn’t isn’t influenced by our beliefs. Similarly, something much more serious like climate change is not made true or false by what we believe. But what we believe can change US and how our lives impact our world.
This isn’t a commentary on Bigfoot or climate change. But perhaps it’s a stepping stone for us to think about what we do believe and the impact it has on our life. For example, I might believe someone said something with the motive of offending me. After all, I feel offended. But my opinion of their motive does not make it their motive, right? What we believe doesn’t make something real but what we deeply believe changes us.
Someone said the most profound question in life is this: “Do you believe Jesus is who he said he was?” Your opinion doesn’t change reality but it can change you. I have good friends who say “yes, he is,” and it appears to me they generally model their life according to that belief. I have other friends who say no or aren’t sure and they model their lives accordingly. And some of those who don’t believe seem to me to be very genuine, kind, and loving people that I respect and love. Some don’t want to think about the matter at all and that believe also impacts their lives. The truth is, our opinions about things don’t change reality but they change us.
Paul wrote a letter to the church at Corinth about such a matter (1 Corinthians 15). It seems some of them believed that Jesus lived, maybe even was the Son of God, but evidently did not believe that he was resurrected from the dead. Paul responded, “If Christ has not been raised (from the dead) our preaching is useless and so is your faith. Your faith is futile, you are still in your sins.” (V14 and 17) The consistent message of the New Testament is that we are indeed sinners and need a Savior, that Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins, was resurrected, and that we too will be resurrected even after death. If God’s claims are true, whether we believe or don’t believe, our eternal lives will be impacted by that truth. Of course, the opposite is also true, as Paul states. If God’s claims are false, then our faith is in vain.
Our beliefs don’t influence only our eternal state. They influence our life now. Everyone believes in something. If we don’t believe in the power of the resurrected Jesus, we believe in the power of something else – ourselves, our family, our country, our passionate causes. If I set myself on the decision-making throne of my life then I have to rely on my “wisdom” and my natural skills and abilities and passions to guide my life. I’ve tried that and it never worked well for me. Everything falls short, especially me.
But what happens when we believe – really believe – in the resurrected Jesus? We come to believe that God’s Word is really true in all aspects of our lives; that when Jesus talks about giving us his Spirit to teach, convict, comfort and strengthen us, it’s a reality, not just some religious doctrine. It means the reality of the resurrected Jesus lives in the heart of the believer. His authority, his power, his ability to love those you really don’t like, his compassion for people you might look down on, his grace, his forgiveness, his patience, his self-control, his strength and his hope are yours despite the circumstances you face or even the emotions you feel. “He has put everything under his feet.” (V27)
God’s encouragement to those who believe in his Son is this:
“Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain.” (V58)
How is what you really believe impacting your life?