What do you mean, you 'believe in Jesus' ?
A letter to my son from three years ago:
You asked me that question a few weeks ago now & even with all that has gone on, the pondering on an answer to you has never been far away from the surface of my mind.
I think maybe these past weeks had to occur for me to give you an answer.
My first answer to you would have been "theological," in other words, the "religious" definitions of who Jesus is and where He came from. But that really isn't how it is with me, nor ever has been, so while I might be able fairly well to give you a very good and true answer to who Jesus Christ is, at least according to "traditional" Christian viewpoint, it would not really be the true answer to your question as you asked it to me. Because for me, all that stuff came after I believed, not before. And when I think about it now in the light of your question, that is still the case in the present. Faith precedes understanding. Always.
For me, really, even though I could give you a blow-by-blow account of my thought processes and the things of life that led to the point of what was my conscious "conversion" to Christ, that's also not it as far as an answer to your question exactly, and much of it you've heard before anyway I'm sure.
This is then what I can say about "what it means to believe in Jesus" today for me.
But I want to see it from the freshness of its beginnings as it became the whole of my consciousness in a day and has been since that day.
Purely and simply, it came as and remains a gift.
A gift of revelation. Jesus & his disciples had been walking around for quite a while and he'd been doing all sorts of miracles, healing blind people, the lame, lepers right and left, even raised a couple of dead people. Jesus asked his disciples what the people were saying about him. They told him that everybody (all the people) were convinced he was a great prophet, because there have always been stories of times past where some came among them who could do such things. They thought he was a prophet of old come back among them.
Jesus then asked the disciples, "But who do YOU say that I am?"
None of them answered except Peter, who said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
And then Jesus said to Peter, "Blessed are you, Peter, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven."
So that's what I mean when I say "I believe in Jesus." It comes from heaven, from the Father, from God.
He chased me for a long time through various means, finally pinning me down and like Paul on the road to Damascus in Acts 9, made me answer the question: "And who do YOU say that I am?" I could only answer what was given me to say, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
I didn't know what that meant at the beginning, really didn't have a clue. It was totally selfish on my part. I had become undone and was looking for rescue. Someone I doubted existed and more than once had scoffed at, came unexpectedly to the rescue.
I knew I'd seen Him all my life here and there, and He was already more familiar than the most intimate in my life.
And then I knew right off (after I believed), that He was the key to every lock. I didn't know what that meant at the time, hadn't a clue. But I knew it was true.
It is a gift from God to believe. We don't find Him or work our way to Him. He finds us and is determined to do so. He finds us for only one purpose, not to punish us for our sins, (and it is certain that we have committed and offended many with the depths of our selfishness, even offending God in our own being which lives in and consists of the Being of God), but far more than that, since in Him we find no condemnation towards us for those things, but only forgiveness and grace, we discover that we are "found" for far greater purpose than simply to be saved from wrongdoing and rescued from punishment; but even more so to be made the clothing He wears in the world, the mask and life of humanity He lives in -- which is all who believe in their hearts so that each of them might be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and might participate with Him in the redemption and reconciliation of all things.
When I first "believed" -- which I'll have to say was more just a decision of desperation rather than the product of thoughtful reason -- all I wanted was out of the mud. I knew I was stuck in it, and cried to darkness and to silence to find me and pull me out of the muck I knew I could never escape from. Someone came, and though even right on into the moment of saying, "OK, I'll believe," I still questioned who this was. My mind could not allow it.
But still the One to Whom I had unknowingly (and reluctantly) given my life turned out True, Real, and the Root and Offspring of David, which means both Source and Manifestation. Alpha and Omega -- the Beginning and the End. The "Lamb Slain before the foundation of the earth" -- meaning the eternal sacrifice for sin and sins before sin ever was .... and the foundation of everything that is.
All this I did not know, but sensed it in mystery, in first knowing Jesus Christ of Nazareth was indeed "Christ, the Son of the Living God." As a gift.
To believe, one man said to Jesus, "O Lord, I believe, help my lack of believing."
Some other folks asked Him, "What must we do to work the works of God?" His answer was, "Believe on Him Whom He [God] hath sent."
Seems a simple answer, but it is quite outside reason and has no intellectual basis whatsoever. It's what Paul called the "foolishness of God."
But by grace (from outside myself) I did and do continue to believe and now today years later I find no place, no day, no hour, where He is not manifest. No place in or out of self, in or out of circumstance, no place in which the kingdom of God is not in its fulness, no place which isn't praise, no place which isn't thanksgiving, no place which doesn't contain forgiveness and grace, no place where condemnation and judgment reign, but find only the Spirit of God manifesting the life of God in some way in everything, meaning that at the basis of all, love and redemption is the firm and certain Purpose of the whole universe.
The final thing I will say is that which Jesus said in John 4 to the "woman at the well":
13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Jesus Himself was the water He was talking about.