Believe in your heart

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that Jesus rose from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom. 10:9)

Many people misunderstand the meaning of “believe in your heart.” Biblically, the heart is not the organ that pumps blood to the body, but the thing that controls our thoughts, emotions, decisions, choices, hopes, aspirations, and fears. To believe in Jesus with your heart is to believe in Jesus in the place that controls all of your decisions, emotions, hopes, joys, and dreams; the place that controls the way you live your life.

Too many people assume that to believe in your heart is to believe in Jesus in the secret place that only God sees. The clear biblical witness is: what is in the heart is made evident by the way we live.

The interesting thing to consider here is that many people if asked the question: “are you a disciple of Christ?” would actually answer, “no, I do not follow him.”

Surprisingly, the same people if asked “will you go to heaven when you die?” will answer yes. The problem is, that Jesus taught that those who follow him, will follow him into death, and on to resurrection on the other side where we will reign with him; our lives embodying his authority in this world here and now.

Those who do not follow Jesus, will not follow him into resurrection. Those who do not follow Jesus, will in the end be condemned.

Following Jesus requires faithful membership in a church, a life characterized by learning from Jesus about what life is and how it is to be lived under his authority, and confession of sins and repentance. Without these three things, you cannot be a follower of Jesus (based on the writings of Jesus’s appointed apostles—The Bible)

As an atheist, earlier in my life, I embraced this fact. If Jesus is the real deal, then I will be condemned. I embraced this, and followed it up with, I am my own person, and I will do what I want, when I want. Screw Jesus, I will live my life however I see fit (I used a little more interesting language at the time). Strangely enough, I lived like all of the so called Christians, I merely added correlating words to my lifestyle.

I would encourage those who are clearly not a follower of Jesus to readily embrace the fact that they are not, and not cower away from the consequences of that decision. It is quite liberating to own up to rejecting Jesus, rather than pretending to love him in secret. Many times, this will become a watershed moment that leads to a significant moment where one wrestles with the gravity of life’s decisions.

For those who are not followers of Jesus, if you honestly think he is really the Son of God, embrace the fact that you will be condemned at the end of your life, and do your best to enjoy what is left of it. Without regrets (there will be plenty of time for that later—now is the time to enjoy). Perhaps, the weight of dealing with this reality will bring people back from their deep dream, and wake them like a whiff of ammonia to the reality that our decisions last much longer than today; not only in the lives of the ones we love, but also in the life to come.