Jesus’ calls us to obedience, not to belief.
Here are a number of Jesus’ teachings in which he makes it clear that he expects his followers to obey his commands, These are all taken from just one Gospel, the Gospel of Matthew:
- Jesus’ teaching on the sheep and the goats – those who do the will of God will be rewarded. (Matthew 7:21-23);
- Jesus teaching on the wise and foolish builders – both builders heard Jesus’ words but only the wise one acted on them. (Matthew 7:24-27);
- the parable of the two sons, one who obeyed and one who didn’t. (Matthew 21:23-32);
- Jesus said that whoever does the will of God is his brother, and sister and mother. (Matthew 12:50);
- Jesus said “If you want to enter life, obey the commandments”. (Matthew 19:17);
- Jesus told the apostles to teach new disciples to obey everything that he had commanded. (Matthew 28:19).
And Jesus wants us to trust him. Interestingly, and importantly, the Greek word that is usually translated ‘belief’ or ‘faith’ in our Bible can be translated ‘trust’. Try this for an exercise – whenever you find the words ‘belief’, ‘believe’ or ‘faith’ in your Bible try substituting ‘trust’ instead. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who trusts in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Even if you prefer to keep the word ‘belief’ it should not be regarded as just meaning that you believe in Jesus the same way that a person might believe in UFOs. The Greek word means much more than just believing that Jesus exists. 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. ‘Belief’ in Jesus means trusting him and being deeply committed to him.