As I submit these devotions, my hope is that you will spend a few minutes reading the text from the Bible, and then consider how I’ve applied it to life. My goal is to have you read through entire books of the Bible, but the devotions I write will often deal only with a section of the greater passage. Today’s post will deal with John 2:23-25.
Believe doesn’t always mean believe! This truth shows up a number of times in the Gospel of John. People will “believe” in Jesus, but we will find out that they don’t really “believe”. I know, as of now, you think I have lost my mind. But let me explain.
There are different ways to believe in something or someone. One level of belief is mental belief. When a person knows something to be true in his head, but the person does nothing more than affirm the facts. For example, say a person picks up a newspaper and reads an article on the needs of the homeless, and the article says that people ought to get involved and help. The person might read the article and believe the article to be true, but he or she never does anything about homelessness. This person believed the article, but did he or she really believe?
Another level of belief is emotional belief. This occurs when a person is moved by their emotions toward something, but their emotions determine the level of belief. The strength of emotional belief is determined by the emotions held at any given point in time. This person might read the same article about homelessness, and while reading be moved to tears. So she calls a shelter and sends them some money. Her sense of hurt of the plight of the homeless goes away for a while because she believes she has done her part. A few months later she begins to feel sad again, so this time she goes to a soup kitchen to serve a meal, and again she feels satisfied that she has helped. This person has a level of belief, but does she really believe?
A third level of belief is heart belief. Heart belief takes place when a person is completely changed by the belief that he or she holds. In fact, they no longer hold the belief, but the belief holds them. It is a belief that changes the way they view the world, and the way they go about life. It is a complete surrender to that which is believed. This person reads the same article, and he is moved deeply by the plight of the homeless. But he realizes that he can’t change their situation without giving up his suburban home and moving to the city, so he sells his house, and moves downtown. He also gives up his job and becomes a missionary working in a homeless shelter. He distributes clothing, gives them meals, and occasionally will travel to the state capital to speak to the legislature about homelessness and their problems. This person believes.
You see, there are different levels of belief. When people say they believe in Jesus, they may be referring to a mental belief, where they affirm the truthfulness of Jesus and his mission, but never do anything else. Others might hold an emotional belief, which comes and goes. They might “believe” after a religious experience or a mission trip, but their belief goes away during the year when pressure and temptation come. The people in this story represent this kind of belief. When Jesus was doing miracles they thought he rocked, but when tough stuff came along, they bolted. Then there are those with heart belief in Jesus, the kind of faith that completely changes life. But here is the catch, only one type of belief in Jesus will save you. Because not every one who believes really believes.