Has anyone ever given you a hard time about anything? Imagine, if you will, being given a hard time over just about everything!
That’s how it is for about 245 million people in the world today. People are dismissed from their job for no work-related reason. People are accused of crimes they did not commit, arrested and jailed on false charges. Some have been tortured and some have even been put to death.
What is their ‘crime’? Their crime is that they profess to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and they acknowledge him to be their Lord and Savior. Though some among us might think of others among us as being way too enthusiastic about faith in Christ, we struggle to get our heads around the idea that people are actually harassed, persecuted, threatened and even put to death just because of who and what they believe in. But unfortunately, it’s true, even though most of the stories never make even the back page, much less the front. Does it matter what I believe? Does it matter what you believe? Evidently, in many places in the world, it does. Especially if one happens to believe in Jesus Christ.
One of the things that gets largely ignored in our culture is the reality that behavior rests on belief. If a person lives ‘loosely’, carousing in drunkenness and promiscuity, that reflects a belief. Some would say that reflects a lack of belief – and both would be right! What it reflects is the belief that I can live my life the way I choose, do whatever I wish and there will be no consequences. Follow that stream to its source and what it says is there is no God to whom I am accountable. It may however reflect another belief system. That belief system would be that what we do doesn’t matter. God loves everybody and because He does, when this life is over everybody goes to heaven.
Those who believe in Jesus would be saying, well, that’s half true. God does love everybody. The Bible says so. But they would also affirm that there is another dimension to the story. In the biography of Jesus called the Gospel of John, there is a verse that says this: “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” (John 3:16). Eternal life, according to the Christian faith, is given by God to those who believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son. In other words, it matters what, and who, one believes. And for those professing to believe in Jesus Christ, it matters how we conduct ourselves. Why? Because what we really believe is reflected in the way we live our lives and especially how we treat each other.