BY AMY WALTON |
When I was a young girl, I adored The Monkees, that TV sitcom band of four that included heartthrob, Davy Jones.
One of their biggest hits was “I’m a Believer,” a tune that speaks of love as the stuff of fairy tales until the singer sees a certain girl. It was cute.
We can believe in a lot of things: Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, Bigfoot, and ghosts. I certainly believed in St. Nick, though I only spoke to him once a year; and I never even saw the little pixie who took my baby teeth and left a coin or two.
I was a believer. So were my sons.
In recent years, I’ve been intrigued by the word “believer” as it relates to Christians. It’s a term frequently heard in nondenominational circles and one you might occasionally see blinged out on a social media profile. It’s a word, however, that I rarely hear among my mainline Protestant and Catholic friends. I’ve heard countless folks who are not members of any faith community say things like, “Sure, I believe in God” or “I believe Jesus died for our sins.”
But where do we go with this belief? Is it enough to merely believe then not dive deeper?
The first Bible verse I memorized as a child was John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Eternal life… the ultimate hope that hinges on believing in Christ.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul expands on believing by writing that we will be saved if we declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead.
But… is just believing enough?
I think the answer is both yes and no.
Yes, we must believe in the Son of God, our Savior, but how do we move from mere belief to a personal relationship with Him? How do we create true intimacy, to the point that we feel as if we are at His feet, the hem of His robe enveloping us like a security blanket? How do we learn to converse with Him, the One who should be our best friend?
Here are seven ways we can go from simply believing to growing a real relationship with Jesus:
- Be Still Before Him. We are called to serve, but we can often become so caught up in service and busyness that we spend zero time just BEING in God’s presence. The psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Sit in silence every day from 5-10 minutes, with no background music or any other distractions. Just bask in God’s love and glory.
- Dig into His Word. Daily devotions, Bible study groups, lectio divina… these are all ways to learn about Jesus. If you’ve never really opened your Bible or are still new to reading it, consider speaking with your pastor or ministry leader about ways to approach scripture with an open heart, an open mind, and no agenda.
- Worship Him. We can worship God anywhere, even alone; but doing so with other believers is a beautiful thing when we come together in liturgy, music, and scripture. Many a Moravian youth, myself included, grew in their love for the Lord by singing “Jesus Makes My Heart Rejoice” with others in church or at camp.
- Partake of His Body and Blood. Taking the elements of bread and wine (or juice) is one of the most intimate things we can do. At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Every single time we partake of these elements, we are communing with the One who gave Himself for us. True intimacy!
- Engage in Community. While solitude is wonderful for contemplation and prayer, it must be paired with community if we really want to go deeper with Jesus. The Book of Acts shares with us the early church community, where small groups met and broke bread and prayed. We need community, and we need to be a part of community, whether in church, in a volunteer effort, or in small groups. Sharing our lives and faith with other believers is a key part of growing more intimate with Christ. The Brethren grew in Christian community at Herrnhut, birthing the Moravian Church and the first missionary movement. No man or woman is an island. We are together the Body of Christ, the church.
- Serve. We are also God’s vessels of love in this world, and there are countless opportunities to serve those who are in need, whether that need is food, becoming literate, or reintegrating into society after a prison term. Soup kitchens and food pantries, literacy organizations, and prison ministries, along with many other such groups, offer us ways to BE Jesus to others as we become more intimate with Him.
- Pray. Just talk to Him! He’s with you always, so praise Him, thank Him, and pour out your heart to Him. We can pray anywhere and any time: Driving down the highway, sitting on our sofa, walking in the woods. He hears us, and we must speak to Him and listen for His guidance.
Yes, we can believe in a lot of things, including many that don’t actually exist, but when it comes to believing in the Triune God, we have daily opportunities to invest in a true and deep connection that has eternal benefits.
Believe, but go deeper. Grow in Him. Get to know Him. He’s not a manmade fantasy, and your relationship with Him is the most important one you’ll ever have, lasting forever.
Invest in it; and enjoy an ongoing, intimate relationship with the One who gave Himself for you.
Then you can sing, “I’m a Believer” with a voice that penetrates the heavens!
About the author
Amy Walton is a certified life coach, certified Christian life coach, speaker, and writer who has lived in coastal Virginia for nearly 30 years. A native of Mayodan, North Carolina, she was baptized, confirmed, and raised in Mayodan Moravian Church, where she remains an Associate Member. Connect with her at www.HolyGrounding.com or [email protected].