The Risk of Belief

“Jesus [said], ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ So the Pharisees said to him, ‘Your testimony is not true.’ Jesus answered, ‘Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going... They said to him therefore, ‘Where is your Father?’ Jesus answered, ‘You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also…’ 

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…’

They [said], ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did…’ They said to him, ‘We have one Father—even God.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God… Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil… He was a murderer from the beginning, and… there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies… Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.’” John 8:12-14,19,23-32,39,41b-44,47

The Pharisees liked to ask questions, but not accept the answers. They relished arguments they would win, and manipulated conversation to garner confirmation of what they already believed, all to support their own puff and importance. There was no risking faith that would require humbling themselves or changing their minds. They were the experts.

But Jesus the Truth confounded them, turning their arrogant reasoning inside out, exposing their lack of faith. Calmly, logically, He clarified what they didn’t want to admit: they did not abide in the true word, they did not love God, they were not free. Such realities were a smack in their haughty faces, and they bristled at the sting. (John 14:6)

Truth often hurts, because it lays bare what we prefer to hide, and often have spent a lifetime doing. Truth uncovers our lies, our cowardice, our pride. The Savior invites us to reason with Him and be cleansed and released from the devil’s tyranny, but we can be unwilling to believe that is really possible. We decide losing control, our carefully-constructed reputation, and self-made security is too much to risk for such an incomprehensible offer. (Isaiah 1:18)

What locks of pride and stubbornness are keeping us from opening our heart’s door to the Savior? What shame inhibits our trusting the Redeemer? What fear holds us back from surrendering to the Lover of our souls?

Would our hearts welcome Christ to enter in? Would we with meekness risk receiving all He has to give?

“How silently, how silently,
the wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
the blessings of the heav’ns.
No ear may hear his coming,
but in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive him still
the dear Christ enters in.”
~Phillips Brooks (1868)

Lord, teach me risky faith for the sake of knowing and exalting You.

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