1. Belief – A Misused Word
The word “belief” is often highly misunderstood. For some, the notion of “religious belief” is a sinister and convenient way to control people or a way to exploit or take advantage of people (like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time and many religious leaders today). It is convenient because all that is needed is a grand show of external religiously without any burden of proof (or a grand show of charity, for people to see).
1.1. Jesus’ Ministry to Empower
So, a significant part of Jesus’ ministry is to empower people and set them free: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32).
1.2. Not a Show of External Religiosity
He encouraged people to do their prayers and charity in secret: “When you pray, go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father” Matthew 6:6. “When you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” Matthew 6:3.
2. Outflow of Belief in Right Action
However, the fruit of truly knowing God shows in every aspect of our lives. For example, when a person believes in justice, integrity, truth, it shows in how courageously she/he stands up for them. The fruit of a loving relationship with God will show in the love and concern for fellow human beings – “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.” (1 John 2:9).
2.1. Simple Test of Right Belief
John gives a simple test to know if we really know God: a loving, free, obedient walk with God, and to live as Jesus lived (1 John 2:3-6). It is a life governed by truth, wisdom, integrity, honesty, forgiveness, humility, generosity, courage to stand for truth/justice, sacrificial love, etc.
2.2. Humble and Courageous
While Jesus was humble, he also courageously stood toe-to-toe against the bullies and powerful hypocritical religious leaders, for truth, values, and empowerment of people (which practically got him killed). To walk as Jesus walked is a call for such courage!