Belief is a word we often throw around in Christian circles, and it is not a bad thing. However, I believe there is a fundamental difference between believing and accepting. This difference may be subtle, but I think it is a huge part of our faith as we are following Christ. So what is the difference?
When we simply believe in God, the Bible, Jesus, etc., often times this comes from a position of ought. It can seem cold, lifeless, and meaningless, yet we believe it so it is so. We made a decision to believe in the past, and therefore we have to just believe so that we do not look like we made a mistake. When asked, we immediately state our belief with little to no enthusiasm because it is how we were trained. However, this mere believing is easy to depart. When things continue to pile on and eventually we crumble beneath the weight, that belief we once held fleas and we are left with nothing.
But when we believe and accept God for who he is and what he tells us, oh the life that is found in this relationship. When we accept what God tells us and accept that he is all-good, all-powerful, and all-loving, things around us may seem contrary to this. We may struggle to believe it in the time, but we accept God for who he is and this acceptance that his promises and words are true carry us through the hard times of believing. This acceptance means that when we are asked by someone how we can believe God loves us when the world seems to be falling apart, we can confidently answer. We can stand strong and admit the hardships in this and the struggles we are facing with the situations, but we know what God promises us and we will accept and believe that he is in control and working in ALL things.
These differences may seem small, but I think they are very important. So now, how do we move from believing to accepting.
Well first, I think this is different for everyone. For me, to accept what God says requires that I first know what he says. Daily time in prayer and his word are vital for me to accept that he is good and that he loves me. I cannot give you a road map and tell you to do this, then do that, and finally do that and you will move from believing to accepting. However, it begins with taking ownership of your faith and your relationship with God and Jesus.
And I can tell you that when you have gotten there, you will know.
You have the peace which God offers us through his son, which passes all understanding. You have a calm confidence that God is guiding, leading, and protecting you in your life daily. If you do not have this peace and confidence in God, ask him. Jesus promises us that “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matt 7:7-8, NRSV). Ask your heavenly Father to work in you and through you, drawing you closer to him through the work of the Holy Spirit.