Many people are religious and want to believe in God, but don’t know him. We have all been in conversations where someone says something like, “I believe in God.” This is a very common sentiment, even among Christians when speaking to one another. It appears that many people today are religious, but don’t believe in Jesus Christ. One problem is that we Christians become sloppy in our language. The statement, “I believe in God”, doesn’t really say much, and doesn’t really clarify your faith as a believer.
Let’s not forget who else can say, “I believe in God.” Many, many of them are not Christian. Muslims say openly, “I believe in God”. Jews say, “I believe in God.” Mormons say, “I believe in God.” Pagans, even secular people will say they believe in God. Even the Devil believes in God. The Devil is not an atheist, but he is a liar.
Many people believe in God, but do not know Jesus Christ. Many people do not know that Jesus Christ is God. He may be a prophet, a great person, but not God. In the earliest days and generations of the Church, the disciples and apostles had to take the witness of Jesus Christ out into a very religious world, where many believed in God, but did know Jesus Christ, much like we find today. Many of the Fathers of the Church were martyred not for professing belief in God, but specifically for their belief in Jesus Christ as God.
The Nicene Creed, and the earlier Apostle’s Creed represent early efforts state and teach clearly that Jesus is God.
We all bear the responsibility to evangelize the world even in our everyday speech. We fail Jesus and the Church and those who passed down our faith to us when we fail to witness correctly. We either reveal or conceal the truth by our everyday speech.
Allow me to give you a spiritual challenge. The very next time you are in a conversation about your faith or about God, say the words, “I believe in Jesus Christ.” If you find that difficult, or it makes you uneasy, then you know you have a challenge with your faith. You have some spiritual discernment to do. This self-diagnosis is critical to your salvation. By whom will we be saved, if not by Jesus Christ?
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Jesus Christ is God. We are Trinitarians, not Unitarians. Jesus Christ is our Lord and our God and our Savior.
Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel,
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.
We must be one with him in order to be whole and alive with him. Further, if you receive the Eucharist but reject the Church, and do not participate regularly, then you both accept and reject the Body of Christ at the same time. You disintegrate.
So, claim him. Claim Jesus as your God. Get in the habit. Say it once. Say it again. Get used to saying, “I believe in Jesus Christ.” The more you say it watch what happens to you. Claim him and you will come to know him, and grow into him, and he will grow in you. You will grow in faith and courage.
You may be uncomfortable at first. That could be because you don’t know him. So, keep saying it, “I believe in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is Lord.” Gradually it becomes easier.
St. John the Evangelist said it in the beginning of his Gospel, saying,
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
John was trying to clarify Jesus’ identity in a world that believed in God, but did not believe in Jesus. John continued toward his objective, saying,
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.
In another place in John’s Gospel, Philip is struggling to understand who God is and who Jesus is. Jesus was saying,
If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
It is not enough for you to say, “I believe in God.” That puts you in the company of many, many non-Christians. Perhaps you do not wish to offend anyone with your faith. However, none of the saints would agree with you. They proclaimed their faith in Jesus with their lives.
In the first reading, the people who threatened to kill St. Paul in Jerusalem all believed in God, but refused to believe in Jesus Christ.
In the second reading, St. John the Evangelist makes clear God’s will when he says,
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Don’t ever be afraid to claim Jesus as Lord. You will be in good company.