ask the right questions when you evaluate your faith.
JESUS ANSWERED, "THE WORK OF GOD IS THIS: TO BELIEVE IN THE ONE HE HAS SENT."
How’s your relationship with God going?
Really, though. How’s it going? I want you to stop and give it just one minute of thought. Take a quick inventory and then come back to this.
What did you come up with?
Maybe you feel bad because your church attendance has been sporadic lately, but you did have that great conversation with your friend about your faith. So, you feel pretty good about that. Or, maybe you’ve been neglecting your Bible, but you do teach Sunday school once a month. If you’re like me, you probably find yourself evaluating your faith based on what you do (or don’t do) for God. I think most of us do. But the Bible clearly teaches that our good behavior doesn’t get us into heaven. Still, so often when we think about how we’re doing spiritually, we rate and berate and justify ourselves by our deeds.
The people in Jesus’s day did this too.
They thought about their relationship with God as something they must work for and earn. In the passage where we find our verse, the crowd asks Jesus this question: “What must we do to do the work that God requires?” (John 6:28). Do you see how their question reveals their misunderstanding of how they relate to God? They think, “We must do something to please and appease God, something to make up for our mistakes.” But they’re asking the wrong question.
ON THE PODCASTNatalie walks us through the context of our July verse, John 6:29. Find out why the original hearers of Jesus' words in this verse had a hard time wrapping their minds around the concept of belief being the work of God.
(CONTINUED FROM ABOVE)
Still, Jesus answers it.
Not at all as they would have expected though. They’re clearly looking for a list of to-dos. They want to know all the things they can DO to make God happy, but Jesus doesn’t give them that at all. He says, “You wanna work? Well, the work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (from John 6:29, emphasis is mine). I can almost see Jesus putting air quotes around the word “work.” Because this isn’t a list of works at all. He doesn’t give them all the ways they can earn God’s favor. Instead, he tells them just one thing to do: believe.
How is that even a work?
Here’s the thing, the people aren’t totally wrong. They’re right in believing that God’s standard is perfect obedience to the law he gave. That to-do list they’re looking for, well that IS what God requires; just keep that list perfectly. No biggie, right? But, Jesus doesn’t list out all the works they could never do, instead he calls them to believe in him—“the one God sent.” He’s the one who was in the process of doing God’s required work right then and there on their behalf. He was living out a perfect life and heading to the cross to pay for all the ways they hadn’t. This is the work God required, perfect obedience, and it was a work they could never do—a work only Jesus could do. The only “work” left for them was to believe his work on their behalf. And it’s all that God requires of us too. He doesn’t ask us for perfect lives to justify us, just to believe in the perfect work of Jesus.
How then should we evaluate our spiritual lives?
It’s good and right for us to take inventory of how we’re doing spiritually. We should even look at whether we’re doing the good work of loving others and serving God in our actions, because these are indicators and outworkings of our belief. But as we’ve seen, the wrong question to ask is whether we’re doing enough work to appease and please God. In light of everything we’ve discussed, what questions should we be asking? Instead of focusing on what we’re doing, we should ask whether we’re believing Jesus. Here are some questions to help us identify where we could be believing him more:
Am I believing in Jesus’s work on my behalf or trusting in my own works to make me right before God?
Am I relying on Jesus's power and strength instead of my own?
Am I believing that when I meet with God in his Word and prayer that he is there?
Am I trusting that he’s in control instead of trying to control things myself?
Am I believing that he is good even when things are hard?
Am I confident in Jesus’s compassion and care for me?
Am I believing that he forgives me and still loves me when I fail?
Am I trusting Jesus with __________?
Thanks for reading,
Meet Natalie,Dwell co-founder
Hi there, I'm Natalie. I'm so glad you're here. I'd love to connect with you and hear more about what God is doing in your life!