28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:28-29 ESV
After reading “The Root of All Sin” on Tullian Tchividians’s blog, I’ve been thinking about the difference between belief and unbelief. On reflection, unbelief isn’t belief in nothing. It is belief in something other than grace. Instead of believing God has kindness towards us, and that His kindness really has the power to lead us to moral reform and more, we believe that God first has harshness towards us. Instead of believing that the kingdom of heaven is like the vineyard owner who pays us beyond what we worked for, we think that God is careful to mete out only what we deserve. Unbelief means that we believe that Jesus’ death carries our justification to a certain reasonable point but no further. Certain acceptable sins are forgivable, but addictive repeated shameful willful sins are beyond the ability of His blood to cleanse. Unbelief says that faith produces fruit and we need to see it now! God only gives us peace that fits within our understanding, but never surpasses it.
Belief says, He always loves me. When I can’t tell I am loved, when life is hard, belief says, momentary light affliction is producing for me an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. When I am alone and tempted belief says, I can’t see it now, but His blessing is greater, and I choose the greater joy. I will bear the cross and for the joy set before me choose to forego the lesser pleasure. Always, He loves me. Belief says, forever, I am the pearl He chose, I will not be swayed from the joy and anticipation of the lover of my soul. When I am ashamed, when I have failed, belief says, his throne is a throne of grace, and His kindness will persist towards me into eternity. Belief says, I am forever loved, it is an unbreakable bond that will never end. The party will go on forever. I can do nothing but persist in clinging to His love for me, because that is the only thing that makes any sense to me at all. Unbelief sees the context of law, of the knowledge of good and evil, and believes in God as the executor of the law’s judgement, of the conscience’s curse. Unbelief says, the law is Lord, and God must bow the knee to its judgement; there must be no softness or mercy. Unbelief sees God in the context of law, not the law in the context of God, because it places God under the law. Belief says, I can only value His eternal love, it is all I know, all I really have; I don’t even have my own repentance, I don’t know how to do that, it never ever sticks. Belief places the law in the context of God, and the mercies and kindness and grace of God above the true judgments of the law. The believing soul only knows itself within the context of Christ’s love.