Jesus’ calls us to trust and obey him, not to believe things about him.
Words change their meaning over time in any language. The English word “believe” has changed its meaning. It used to have a much stronger meaning than it has today. It used to mean “be committed to” or “trust”. Now it simply means you think something exists or is true. You will hear people saying “I believe it is going to rain” or “I believe we’ve met before”.
Occasionally you will hear “believe” being used in its older, more forceful, sense. During the 2012 American Presidential election campaign, one of the candidates, Mitt Romney, used a slogan “Believe in America”. He clearly wasn’t asking his followers to believe that America exists. He was talking about having a deep commitment to America.
The Greek word that is usually translated “belief” or “faith” in our Bible carries a much deeper meaning than believing that something exists or is true. It can be translated “trust” and this is probably the English word that is closest to its original meaning. Try this for an exercise – whenever you find the word “belief”, “believe” or “faith” in your Bible, try substituting “trust” instead. It takes the action out of the head and puts it into the heart, and the heart is where God interacts with us, his children.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son. So that everyone who trusts in him will not perish but will have eternal life.” (John 3:16. Author’s translation.)
“Belief” in Jesus means trusting him, being deeply committed to him and actively obeying his commands.