Say what you will about the state of our culture. Personally, I think that one we have going for us is that—for better or for worse—people do not take the statement, “I believe in Jesus Christ,” lightly.
To say, “I believe in Jesus Christ” implies much more than an affirmation of the existence of an historical person. It implies a whole set of beliefs, a certain lifestyle. To proclaim belief in Jesus Christ is a bold statement.
Why? Because “belief” means more than you might realize on the surface.
You can’t believe in a dead person. Many admirable men and women have gone before us, and we can certainly acknowledge their achievements and seek to emulate them, but we would not say, for example, “I believe in Martin Luther King Jr.” It sounds weird, right? We could certainly say, “I believe in what MLK Jr. stood for,” or, “I believe we should all try to be more like him,” but to say “I believe in him” today sounds odd to us. And it should. You can’t believe (present-tense) in a person that is not alive.
So when you say, “I believe in Jesus,” you’re saying that you believe Jesus is alive today. That’s huge; and that by itself would be enough to make you pause and reflect before speaking, but it goes even deeper.
When you profess belief in Jesus, you’re professing belief in a living person, but this belief means more than acknowledging the existence of a living person. Think about the people you know in your life today. I have a close friend named Jaclyn. For me to say, “I believe in Jaclyn,” of course implies a lot more than if I were to simply say, “I believe that a person named Jaclyn exists today.” We all know this from experience. For me to say, “I believe in Jaclyn” means that I have confidence in the person that Jaclyn is. It means that I know her on some sort of deeper level; and it means that I trust her.
Apply this to the claim, “I believe in Jesus Christ” and you will spend your lifetime realizing the implications. Do we have confidence in the Person of Jesus Christ? Do we know who He is and what he stands for? Can we trust Him? Can we really say we believe in Jesus Christ if we only half-heartedly believe in His teachings?
The bottom line of all of this is that you can’t claim to believe in somebody you don’t know. This should be a wakeup call to us all, because there is always room to grow in our relationship with Jesus. If we’re not growing in relationship, our confidence—our belief—will start to fade. So let’s boldly proclaim belief in Jesus, but let’s make sure that claim constantly reminds us of our need to grow in deeper relationship with Him.