John 3:36 (What is “Belief”?) by Jean Noon

05 May John 3:36 (What is “Belief”?) by Jean Noon

Welcome God today with this LIFE Group Devotion (website, Facebook).

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.” John 3:36 (full readings)

Jean’s Reflections: The word “believe” shares the same root as the word “love” – from the German “liebe.” The true meaning of the word “belief” has more to do with one’s affect (heart) than with the cognitive (head). Similarly, “faith” is more about trust than a cognitive conviction. When I enter into relationship with Jesus and really love Him, I am changed by Him. Because I trust, I come to be like Him, and desire what He desires; this is called “mimetic desire.” My love for Jesus is essential to sharing in the life of God because it causes me to make different choices than my head might make – rational self-interest — and I am able to trust and obey, in this eternal instant, his “commands”: to love as he loves (Jn 13:34); to care for the poor, stranger, sick, prisoner (Matt 25:31-46); to turn the other cheek (Matt 5:39), to not judge (Rom 2:1, Lk 6:37), to forgive unceasingly (Matt 18:22), to love even an enemy (Matt 5:48). When I find myself not obeying his commands because they oppose my vested self-interest, I have a sign that I am not “believing” in the Son. “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say” (Lk 6:46)? Scientific studies show that, in decision-making, the affective areas of the brain activate first, then a choice is made, and finally the cognitive areas activate. This shows that we “rationalize” the choices we have made from the heart. Jesus’ mission is to change hearts of stone to hearts of real flesh (Ezek 36:26), so we can effortlessly obey his commands. At the time that Jesus’ heart is made incarnate within me I cooperate with grace and obey — spontaneously and unself-consciously. When my heart is aligned with Christ’s heart, God’s will may be done on earth as it is in heaven. The more I trust in God, and know Jesus and his mission, the more I respond – in perfect freedom and obedience — with a desire to share in his healing mission born of compassion and understanding: to bring good news to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind, liberation to the captives, and freedom to the prisoner (Is 61 and Lk 4:17-19). This desire to share in his mission is a response to divine love not an attempt to earn divine love! I love much because I have been forgiven much (Lk 7: 47). Through my relationship with Jesus, I come to realize that this life is not about “us” vs “them”, and I put on the mind, heart, attitude, and spirit of Christ, to walk in God’s solidarity with all, especially sinners and outsiders – the least among us. Because of the revelation of Jesus, I no longer find myself in solidarity with Pharisees – “Blind Guides” (Lk 6:39, Matt 23:16) — whose mission is to be “set apart,” the literal meaning of the word “Pharisee.” To believe in the Son is to obey his “new” commandment to love as Jesus loves, to share in the life of God, to share in the life of all, especially those in despair and darkness — in the name of divine healing, “salve”-ation. To share in God’s life now is to be salt, light, leaven in my environments following the way of compassion, mercy, vulnerability, and moral credibility through sacrifice which leads to trust, relationship, and mimetic desire: the key to influencing and changing hearts. Don’t look for the kingdom “later.” Trust Jesus when he says, “the reign of God is at hand” (Mk 1:15, Matt 3:2) and “the kingdom is among you” (Lk 17:21).
* Jean Noon and her Air Force-retired husband Tom have two grown sons. Jean is a spiritual director/teacher in the Arlington Diocese of Northern VA.

Faith Challenge: Be a disciple of “the way” so that God’s Spirit can renew the face of the earth (Ps 104:30).

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Through Christ Our Lord,
Luke 4:17-19

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