I don’t remember the day or the month. But I vividly remember the night when a neighbor across the street came knocking on our door begging us to leave our house and go seek refuge in a church building on top of a hill. It was the time when President Jean Bertrand Aristide of Haiti had just received a coup-d’etat. We went to bed early that night. We actually slept on the floor to be exact in the hope that stray bullets would have a lesser chance to reach us, had someone decided to go through our neighborhood and start shooting aimlessly to create scare.
We prayed that night and rested on the floor. Less than an hour later, the voice of our neighbor shouted through the window telling us that our neighborhood has been marked and that we needed safer refuge. We believed every word he said and quickly grabbed as many bed sheets as we could and exited the house to make a run in the pitch dark to the decent size church building known as EBA. In the dark, I ran up fast and banged myself against the gates for I could not see at all that the see-through gate was right before my eyes. Finally, we opened the gate and hid ourselves in some back rooms, not knowing what else would develop. We met with some other neighbors and their children at that same building. Having been both tired and scared, we all slept until daybreak and returned to our dwellings. There were a lot of shooting that night. I don’t believe any of them did come near our houses.
My mom and five other household members, including her two sons, one stepson, one sister as old as her firstborn, and one relative, we believed that we were at risk of danger as soon as the neighbor told us. We believed in him. We believed his message to be true. We believed he cared about us and he was there with us during that uphill run to guide us in the direction of the place of refuge. He must have been there too, trying to keep watch on all of those he had mobilized to safer refuge once we reached the building. We believed in him. It’s not impossible to believe in a man.
We believe in our doctors, our scientists, our teachers, our managers. We believe in others who are long gone. We study their claims and test them for truths. In the process, we become their extensions. They influence us so much to the point that we further their works.
Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Plato, Freud, Louis Pasteur, we believe in them for as much as we’ve heard about them. Even when we’ve never met them in person, their words resurrect them in our minds and hearts. Even when we cannot yet prove that what they said is true, due our fond admiration of any of these figures from all over the world, we readily believe whatever they said to be true even without proofs.
Jesus entered our realm, not as an angel, but as a man. He offered more than enough for any other man’s curiosity to be kindled and led to discover and research whatever claim he had put forth.
When Jesus said that God makes it rain on the kind and the unkind, you couldn’t refute that but admit, “That’s true.” When he said that God makes the sun shine on the caring and the wicked, you can only find room to say, “True, I’ve seen it done.”
Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (John 12:44-50)
When you’re asked to believe in someone, your first question should be, “Why? What did he or she say?” And based on the response, you can assert whether the person to believe in is telling the truth or not.
Jesus speaks amazing things. That’s one of his demeanors. Things that are so amazing to hear, and to hear about that a guard who was sent to confront him went back to his boss and said, “We’ve never heard anyone speak like this before.” (John 7:46)
What can be discouraging is that when you look around and you see the acts and demeanors of many who have claimed to believe in Jesus, you may find yourself believing to be safer by not following them. And true, you are better off not following anyone who claims to be following Christ but whose actions and words do not reflect Christ. The truth is that Christ called others to follow him, and not his followers.
A humorous story speaks of a man who found himself lost on the freeway. He wanted to drive back to Connecticut. With his poor understanding of the road signs and his language barrier, he saw a car before him with a Connecticut license plate. Right there and then he decided that this car must be going to Connecticut and therefore followed it until the car arrives in Washington, DC. The lesson to learn from this story is that you certainly feel lost and may even be lost whenever you’re following others without knowing their true agenda and true destiny.
“Follow me!” Christ said.
We have followed many individuals, both dead and alive. Sports figures, movie stars, music icons, best-selling authors, we followed them all without any clear idea of where all of those folks are going. Some of them, we stop following them when we learn of their shameful deeds to not associate others’ shame with ourselves.
It’s not impossible to believe in a man. It’s not impossible to believe in Jesus as we have believed in any other man. Any man or woman has the capacity to believe in Jesus the man. Yet, it requires the power of the Holy Spirit for any man to believe in Jesus the God.
Jesus the man and Jesus the God is one in the same.
Yes, you’ve never seen God. Yes, all you’ve ever seen and spoken with are human beings like yourselves. Therefore, Jesus came as a human being to be counted among those you can believe in to so that after you’ve lost all your good reason to believe in others, after you’ve lost all your good reason to believe in yourself, after you’ve lost all your good reason to believe in your pastor, your priest, your political leaders, your religious leader, Jesus will still remain on your list as someone to still believe in.
“Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (John 12:44-50)
Today, right this minute, believe in Jesus above any doubts you’ve ever had. Believe in Jesus the man, and he will bring you to know Jesus the God as he did to Thomas. Only then you will be able to say, as Thomas has said, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)
In Judgment day, when many will be resurrected to face the second death, Jesus will not judge them. But the words they had heard from him so many time and dismissed, those words will judge them. I can’t go in the realm of the dead to tell them about Jesus. I can only do that while I’m alive in this world. And you can only welcome a living person, while you’re alive. Therefore, with all the facts you’ve been given about Jesus, judge them for truth, and accept them so that you may believe in the one person that so many had badly characterized, Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus is man and God. Therefore, we can call him, our Lord and our God.
Believe in Jesus like you would believe in any other man and he will teach you how to believe in God for he too had to believe in God for his birth, his life on this earth, his death, his burial, his resurrection, his ascension, his promised return.