The Verb: To Believe

“only believe” (Mark 5:36)

Jesus stresses “believe” here as an intransitive verb—that is, a verb that is complete by itself, without a qualifying object. Believe in what? The object of belief here is Jesus Himself. But this (almost) goes without saying. He was speaking this to the ruler of a synagogue as mentioned in Mark’s Gospel. With reference to belief, I find it interesting that while everything in Christianity hinges on that simple act of will and faith, this concept wasn’t really an issue with ancient mythologies. Granted, the Sophists of Ancient Greece were instrumental in moving that country out of its mythological age into the classical era of philosophy and reason. Belief in ethereal deities was illogical to them. But I wonder what it was that substantiated the faith (if you could call it that) of other religious adherents and inspired them to continue belief in a non-existent(?) entity. I digress. Or do I?

Jesus is, ladies and gentlemen.

Yet He also used believe as a transitive verb—where Jesus plainly shows that He is the object of our belief—see some of the things that Jesus promises those who believe “on me”. Everything from “living water” (John 7:38) to “everlasting life” (John 6:47) to the realization that you’re not just believing on Jesus only but on His Father too: “Him that sent me” (John 12:44). Belief is the battleground. Paul says that the “god of this world (i.e. the devil) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

When we take on the mantle of “believer in Christ”, what we’re saying here is we’ve made a decision to: “rely on”, “trust in” and “commit to” Jesus and His way of living. These are the connotations for the word believe in the Greek. Belief is the gateway, but belief is also a way of life. Belief is something you do—continually. And when it’s directed to God, it colors all aspects of your life. It’s a transitive as well as intransitive verb. A word that we live out everyday in interaction with Him. If we feel that we can recline back on our insides and continue to live the way we’ve been living, all the while thinking to ourselves that “we’re believers” just because we accepted Jesus, we have more to do.

We are “believers in Jesus”. What does this mean? We trust in, rely upon and are commited to Jesus. His bride.

“Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am He: before me there was no god formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.” Isaiah 43:10-11

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