Links Daily Devotional

After the Believing

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” (John 8:31, NIV)

Sometimes I hesitate to say it out loud: “I’m a golfer.” To the right person, this can be a statement leading to enjoyable connection and story-filled conversation.

But not everyone thinks highly of golf. If you don’t play the game, it’s likely your head is full of caricatures about those who play the game: droning hobbyists, country club snobs, bad dressers, anti-athletes. My own son adds to his reasons the game is OK this odd fact: it’s the one sport where you can stop in the middle and have a hot dog and a soda. You see where people can go with this simple confession that I play golf!

No wonder, as well then, that many followers of Jesus in our time have stopped calling themselves “Christians” and started calling themselves other things, like “Jesus-followers.” It’s not creative, but they’re doing it for a reason. “Christians” allows people to go too many places in their minds these days. Again, they conjure up caricatures.

What may be good about this trend is that it reminds us of a teaching Jesus directed at some who were on his side. They were, as we still often refer to such people in our time, “believers.” That is, they had reached the conclusion in their hearts and minds that this man, Jesus of Nazareth, was indeed the promised one of God, the Messiah sent to save the world. They believed the very thing Jesus would have them believe about himself.

And yet, he made a simple case before them that there was an important step that must come after the believing if they—and we—are to be called more than believers. After the believing comes the holding.

Yes, this demands an explanation. Jesus said, if we rearrange the phrases of his wording, “Beyond believing comes following. If you want to be called not just my ‘believers,’ but my ‘followers,’ my ‘disciples,’ then you need to hold to the things I teach you.” You see, after the believing comes the holding to the things that Jesus taught.

This idea was confirmed as the Scriptures developed through the apostles. Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13). “Resist the devil,” Peter wrote, “standing firm in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9). And of John’s seven letters to the churches in Revelation, all of them include a promise for those who “overcome” and remain faithful to the end. In all of these passages, endurance unto victory is captured in the wording.

Be encouraged, then, no matter what you call yourself in front of others, to push beyond your initial believing toward discipleship. And to get there, follow the path of Jesus’ teaching. In it is the way to truth, which we’ll lay hold of a bit more tomorrow.

Jeff Hopper

May 8, 2012

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