BELIEVING IN JESUS AND BEING FED SPIRITUALLY BY OTHERS
WHAT WOULD A BELIEVER SAY? “I believe God exists & that He loves me. I believe my selfish thoughts, actions, & attitudes have broken my relationship with God. I believe Jesus was God and came to fix that relationship. I believe Jesus’ death & resurrection restores my relationship to God & enables me to have a new life with Him. I believe this new life with God means I’ll be Jesus-centered from now on. I believe God has called me to a community of Christians (a church) – they’ll help me live like Jesus. I don’t feel very comfortable praying or reading the Bible on my own yet because I don’t know what to do or where to start.”
People who identify as BELIEVER can range from cultural Christians with no personal relationship with Jesus to sincere followers of Christ who have never been discipled. Some people are uncomfortable labeling someone without a relationship with Jesus a BELIEVER, preferring to label them CURIOUS. But scripture instructs that belief does not always translate into a spiritual rebirth (James 2:19). Cornelius is a great example of someone who “feared God” and obviously “believed” that the God he was praying to existed (Acts 10:1-2). But he was not “born again” until Peter came and presented the gospel to him and his household. Rather than argue whether someone should be classified as a BELIEVER or CURIOUS, take up the role of Peter in their life and fill in all the gaps in their understanding of what it means to follow Jesus.
1. Even if someone identifies as a DISCIPLE, suggest to them that you spend time in the BELIEVER stage since they will soon have to take others through it as a part of their training (it also serves to make sure key steps haven’t been skipped in their own discipleship).
2. Remember to be patient because the BELIEVER stage is one of the most crucial for many reasons like:
- The Bible starts to become their primary authority.
- Free exploration transitions into committed following.
- Identity in Christ is not only explained but experienced.
- The first sense of sharing our faith and experience with others is born.
- The curse of sin is broken and the (sometimes painful) process of sanctification begins.
- The integration into a healthy community is never more crucial.
- Connecting with God through personal prayer, study, and worship becomes fuel for life.