We hear so much about belief in the Christian faith. From the moment we "believe" in Jesus at the point of salvation and then throughout our walk, we are constantly being told we need to believe, we need to have faith. Jesus spoke often of belief and faith.
... if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you Matt 17:20
Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you Mark 11:24
But what is belief? Could it really be that easy? We just believe in God and His Son Jesus and we're in! We just believe our prayers are answered and they are! Yet, then we run into difficult Scriptures like this one in James:
You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.
So, then it isn't enough to just believe. Even though the Bible clearly says that it is, as we find here in Acts 16 when the jailer asked Paul and Silas how he could be saved?
They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
So is the Bible inconsistent? I've been reading through the Old Testament recently, and in particular the wanderings of the Israelites through the dessert for 40 years after God so miraculously delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Whenever God got mad at them or punished them for something, I asked myself, what did they do to cause His anger? Whether it was the making of an idol, or the grumbling and complaining, what it all boiled down to was they didn't TRUST God. They believed in Him, no doubt. How could they not after what they'd seen in Egypt? How could they not believe in God when He was escorting them through the dessert with a cloud by day and fire by night? These people saw more miracles then all the believers in any generation after them. You can bet they believed God existed. But was it enough to believe only that? What else does God require?
More than anything, I've come to see that God requires TRUST. He wants us to trust Him, first for our salvation through Jesus, but then for everything else: Health, food, shelter, jobs, money. He wants us to trust Him for help with relationships, spouses, kids, for wisdom, for knowledge, for everything! We are to trust God to keep His promises. This is exactly what the Israelites DID NOT do. They didn't trust God for food or water or to protect them. The final straw was when they didn't trust God to defeat the giants in the land God was going to give them. God had been so patient up to that point, but He'd finally had enough. And no one in that generation except Caleb and Joshua (who had trusted God) entered the promised land.
The truth of the matter is, God doesn't really care whether you believe He exists or not. He cares that you trust Him, that you throw your life into His hands and then believe He's got your back. No matter how dark it gets, no matter the trials and struggles, He wants you to trust that He is good, that He loves you, and that He will provide. I truly believe this is what God wants from each and every one of His children. Of course this is a process. We start out with only enough faith to trust Him for our salvation but as we walk along with Him and get to know Him, we should start trusting Him for more and more and more. One thing I've noticed is that the more I trust Him, the less fear I have. Trust and fear cannot coexist!
If you want to enter your promised land and quit wandering in the desert, if you want to make God happy, learn to trust Him in everything! That's true salvation, not only from hell, but from a purposeless existence in this life.