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Can You Believe It?

“Secrets Revealed - Magicians tell all.” “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.” “The House of Mirrors.”

A popular attraction to the human mind is an environment where our perception is temporarily altered and the line between believable and unbelievable is blurred. Did it happen? How did he do that? Am I here or over there? Supermarket tabloids rake a mint as we are checking out our purchases and become suddenly swallowed in by a captive headline, “500 lb. Baby Born to Mother.” We are susceptible to indulge in sensationalism, and delighted to follow a media’s breaking story, even if they only have a sliver of evidence. It’s hard to believe! Can you believe that really happened? Wow! Society has also become numb to unbelievable reports. If we’re faithful to the evening news, we commonly hear of explosive terrorist attacks and genocidal annihilation, and these horror stories begin to adhere to our senses like the proverbial water off a duck’s back.

Some of us have heard another story so long that it no longer strikes a chord in us. It’s not that we don’t believe the story any longer, but the value of that belief has been significantly diminished. If we live in a country torn with war, and the gun fire and bomb detonations have become background noise like traffic or office chatter, it’s not “unbelievable” to see a cruise missile sailing by a central business district. However, if I saw one jetting by my downtown office in Minneapolis, it would be completely incredible. Has the story of Christ been droning in our ears for so long that it has lost its value of belief? Sure we believe it, but we’ve heard it all before.

God focuses on belief. Here’s an example:

She put on sand-colored clothes to blend in with the local structures and terrain, and chose to make her short journey in the heat of the day so that foot-traffic would be light and her appearance little-known. She had to have water, but it was worth the wait to get it at noon, instead of first thing in the morning, just to avoid the condescending stares. When you’ve waded through five men and are currently shacked-up with the sixth, it’s better not to be seen by anyone who’s done any better than that. Fortunately for her, the arrival at the well that day is only interrupted by one other person, and he’s obviously a Jew, so maybe she’ll make it by another day without having to talk to anyone. But He speaks. Living Water? What!?! It seems unbelievable, but she believed - so much so that she ran back to town and exclaimed her discovery, unashamed of her past and thrilled about her future. She and the Water-Giver had emphasis on belief.

So many times it happened in a way similar to this. Jesus interacted with someone just long enough for them to believe, and that pleased Him. He admonishes again and again in His Word to believe on Him, believe in Him, believe, believe, believe. Can you believe it? If you think about how completely radical His story must sound to someone who has never heard it before, you can see His emphasis on belief. We that have heard it enough to be “experts” on it may have decreased our value of belief. We take the believing for granted and expect that anyone should be able to believe it. But if I told you a cruise missile just sailed by the 7th floor where I sit, you wouldn’t believe that…unless my office sits in Baghdad. How much convincing would it take for you to believe that it happened in Minneapolis? How much convincing would it take to show a person with no knowledge of God that we are here because He made us and He wants relationship with us? We that grew up “knowing” this because our parents told us before we even knew English, and our Sunday School teacher drilled our memorization of it, and our pastor raised his voice in proclamation of it, don’t have any trouble at all believing it. God recognizes that belief. When a person takes the risk to say, “I believe that, “ He is pleased. It is the very signal to the leg and foot to take that first step on that journey toward Christ. We that grew up "knowing," stumble over phrases like “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” But It makes you wonder about God’s emphasis on belief. He responded so many times to simple belief. He gave a new life to a man let down through a roof for healing. He gave sight to a man who believed enough to allow mud to be smeared over his invalid lenses. He gave a thief a last-minute pass to paradise. He gave a reason for a five-time divorcee to rejoice. Who are we to discredit the decision to believe? We commonly expect the whole journey of salvation to happen in one Bible study, or one Sunday night church service, when in fact we are all still on our way to salvation…saved, and on the journey to ultimate salvation. So, is the person who exclaims his belief in Christ saved? Well, first of all, none of us have the place to speak for God in matters of who is saved and who isn't, in any instance, but it appears that God places a greater emphasis on belief than we do. Humanity likes to see measurable results like attendance charts and charitable donations. We don’t want to hand out salvation to just anyone. Besides, the “new guy” hasn’t done anything compared to what we have done in our lifetime of service to Him. Here’s something I have recently come to believe: God wants it to be much easier for people to be saved than we may have made it out to be. His Word shows repeatedly His emphasis on believing in Him. Those who have been “believing” for a long time have diminished the value of belief. When God sees a person who relies on faith alone, in a world inundated with deception, the media, false representation, and churches that are as confusing as the “Hall of Mirrors,” He recognizes the incredible value of belief. After all, once a person believes there is a God, it is the beginning to a new and rewarding relationship with Him. Of course, as they walk with Him they will learn more, but it all starts with a proclamation of belief. We may take believing for granted, but to God and a person who discovers Him for the first time, belief is everything.