If you believe all people are valuable and worthy of love, it changes how you think about them and act toward them.
If you believe God loves you and created you on purpose for a purpose, it will change how you think about yourself and “coincidences” and how you should spend your time.
Belief is powerful. What you believe influences your thoughts which directs your actions that have outcomes.
If we want to change outcomes we often start with trying to change our actions. But what if we have to go back a few more steps? Because if you start with actions, you’re going to run out of juice and burn out. But if you believe something at your core, the downstream impacts are longer lasting. This is true whether you believe good things about others or bad things about yourself.
I noticed a pattern about Jesus. He didn’t perform miracles so that people would believe. He could have done that but he didn’t. The people who received the miracles were following him, listening to him, and seeking him. It didn’t guarantee a miracle but their belief, led to them following him and being in a position where it was possible.
If they believed that he was sent by God and could do anything, THEN he healed them. You’ve probably heard the phrase “your faith has made you well.” That sounds a lot different than, “your skepticism and stubbornness has made you well.”
The religious leaders demanded Jesus show them signs and miracles, to prove to them that he was God. The irony is that they’d seen his miracles. They were following him around trying to catch him doing something “wrong” by their standards, and watching and listening to build a case against him to kill him. And he knew that miracles wouldn’t change their opinion. They had already decided. They believed Jesus was there to remove their authority.
Defensiveness and feeling threatened are powerful motivators. This impacted their actions and outcomes for themselves and the community around them.
As I consider belief and miracles, I don’t believe that if I pray hard enough or “right” enough that God will answer my prayer. He’s not a genie in bottle granting wishes, and there isn’t a formula that I’m getting wrong. If anyone tells you that you didn’t pray hard enough, they have a belief about God and themselves that needs some correcting.
I do believe that God CAN do anything. He CAN answer prayer, but I don’t think that’s dependent on me. He created the universe out of nothing, so this isn’t a question about his ability or mine.
I believe that he loves me and cares about me. He created me. He sits with me and listens to me. He sent Jesus for me. I also believe that as the creator of the universe he knows a lot more than me. And he thinks longer term and broader than I do. So there are reasons prayers go unanswered that I’ll never understand. But not getting what I want, or what I think is right, doesn’t make him any less God (or any of us a better replacement for God, though we often act like we think we are).
What I believe about God influences my thoughts, my actions and the outcomes around me.
What people believed about Jesus resulted in them either following him, or being healed, or trying to destroy him.
Spend time examining what you believe.
Spend time learning about the one God of the universe.
Spend time learning about Jesus. Not to poke holes, or to look for things that confirm your existing opinions.
Just read and consider what you believe. Maybe you’ll believe God loves you and created you on purpose for a purpose here and now. I believe that about you.
Influenced by my reading of the gospel of Matthew and Mark, and Sunday’s sermon at Eastview Christian Church on July 4, 2021.