faith beyond mental assent

Someone messaged me the other day that we have to believe that Jesus died and rose again in order to be saved (I think they were worried about my salvation.) I completely agree with that. Mentally. I nodded as I read it. When a speaker in church talks about the death and resurrection of Jesus, I nod and say “amen.” I believe it. Mentally. But to what extent do I believe it beyond mentally? I can sit here at my desk and tell you that I believe a parachute will bring you safely to the ground. But that’s not the same as strapping one on and jumping out of a plane is it?

I think it’s closer to the truth for me to say what a dad said when Jesus’ disciples were unable to heal his boy. He said it better and more succinctly than I ever could: “Lord I believe, help my unbelief!” There is a faith and also a brutal self-honesty there that I want to have in my life. I think this is an ongoing struggle (I mean that in a good way) for all who claim Jesus as savior. Becoming his disciple means learning to lead a cruciform life. That is to say, we actually believe in his death and resurrection to the extent that we are able and willing to take up our own crosses and set our faces towards our Jerusalems just as Jesus did. We need to believe in resurrection the way Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane. This doesn’t happen overnight, and the Lord is wonderfully patient with us, but the process can only truly begin, when we say with the father of that kid, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”

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