Believe, And You’ll Find Yourself In A New Reality
There’s a difference between having life and being alive. We can be walking, talking, breathing, heart beating on the outside, but feel lifeless at the same time. Jesus invites us to believe in him. The promise is that we will discover a whole new kind of life – the eternal kind that satisfies our deepest desires.
If you have your eyes open it’s pretty hard to miss someone somewhere telling to believe in stuff. You can believe in the Bieber dream (whatever that is?) or that your sports team will prevail against great odds, or just rock on to a classic tune.
Believing is a pretty big idea!
Jesus’ very first words in his public ministry were an invitation to believe that God’s Kingdom was about to break in to this world in a whole new way (Mark 1v15). John the gospel writer weaves the idea of believing all the way through his story. Jesus promised a whole lot of things for people who believed in him. Here’s a snapshot:
• You get to call yourself a child of God. The Creator of the Universe becomes your Dad (John 1v12-13)
• You get to have eternal life (3v15)
• You escape any form of condemnation (3v18)
• You get to ‘cross over’ from death to life (5v24)
• Your deepest desires will be met – forever (6v25-59, 7v38)
• Your physical death is no longer the end (11v25-26)
• The dark parts of your life will be lovingly filled with light so that you are no longer haunted by what’s there (12v46)
If you have time, read through those passages and get a feel for what believing in Jesus is about.
In this session we’re going to focus on two of these amazing promises. The first is about the kind of life we’ll get to enjoy.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16)
That’s a pretty familiar passage right? One of the most famous in the whole Bible. It gets really interesting when you pick out one word and check it out in the Greek language it was first written in.
That word is ‘life’.
The Greeks had two words for life: Bios and Zoe.
Bios doesn’t have anything to do with computer systems, bios describes the living stuff all around us: plant matter, animal matter – the stuff of Biology and the Biosphere. ‘Bios’ life is what plants get from seeds and what all animals have. Bios life is what your parents gave you when you were born. You don’t have any more Bios life than your hamster or your dog. In the world of Bios life we ‘ain’t nothing but mammals…’
Every living thing and every-body has Bios life. And every living thing and every-body will one day lose their bios life. Bios lives – then dies and rots away.
Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils. Hector Louis Berlioz
The other Greek word for ‘life’ was ‘Zoe’. Do you know anyone called Zoe? I do. There’s a reason for that (and a reason why I haven’t heard about anyone whose name is Bios).
Zoe is a special kind of life. Zoe life is indestructible. Zoe never dies. Your parents cannot give you Zoe life, nor can you try and get it yourself. It can only be received and explored.
Zoe life is what makes us different from every other kind of living thing. We are spiritual beings and with Zoe life we begin to experience a whole new dimension to life. With Zoe life we become fully alive and experience the good things God has for us.
Zoe life is rooted in love. (1 John 3v14) and Zoe life overcomes all fear (1 John 4v18). Zoe life is what we experience when we get to know God our Father (John 17v3).
And … Zoe is eternal – so when Jesus says he’s come to give us all eternal (zoe) life, he’s actually repeating himself. He could have just said ‘whoever believes in me will have Life (the Zoe kind).
We get a massive upgrade on our fragile Bios life when we inherit Zoe life.
You get the picture?
The really cool thing about Zoe is that we don’t have to wait until we die to get it. We can have Zoe life right now.
Does that sound pretty good? It gets better …
The second thing from that list that we get if we believe in Jesus is that our deep desires will be satisfied. Jesus gives us a good idea of what Zoe life is about in this passage from John 6v22-40. Here’s an excerpt:
So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
‘Sir,’ they said, ‘from now on give us this bread.’ Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.’
One of the big ideas we’re exploring in this Enter Life series is that all of us have deep desires and longings that were created in us by God and meant to be satisfied only in a relationship with God. Three of those core desires are the longing to know who we really are, to have something significant to do, and to have someone to love deeply.
Just like God said long ago in Jeremiah 2:13, one of our big problems is that, like thirsty travellers in a desert refusing to pull in at an oasis, we keep going in search of other things to fulfil those desires for identity, purpose and relationship.
What Jesus says in John 6v35 is not really anything new. What is radically new is that here is a human claiming to be able to do what in the past only God could do. That takes some faith to believe.
And that’s the invitation.
If anyone believes that Jesus is who he said he was – God himself in human form who makes a way for us to be adopted again as God’s children – and if anyone learns to trust and depend on Jesus to guide his or her life … then guess what: you’ll begin to find your true identity – you’ll start to know who you really are that you’re actually ok! And you’ll discover a capacity for true intimacy.
That’s what Zoe life is about.
All it takes is for you to believe.
In this tab you’ll find ideas and questions to help you lead your group through an interactive, story-based journey. Our leaders guide has more info on how to use our Story-based framework.
Download a PDF version of this session here
Think back over as much of your life as you can remember. What are some things you’ve really believed in over the years? How many of those beliefs are still standing?
What are some beliefs you’ve lost over the years? What made you stop believing them?
What would you say you believe in most right now?
Get the conversation started …
Get everyone to check out the WordSpace posts from this week on their phones or from a printout (you’ll find them in the next tab.)
o Is there a post that stands out for you? Why so?
o Is there something in a post that raises a question for you? What is that?
o If you had to choose one post to share with a friend, which one would it be?
Read the post in The Story tab.
Here’s Brad Fish with invitation number 4… On YouTube here
Some questions to help you replay your story …
o How did you feel when you heard or read this post on Jesus’ invitation to believe in him? Was it ‘totally awesome!’, ‘no ways, that’s impossible’, or something in between?
o Does the bit about our deepest desires being those for identity, purpose and relationship make sense? Which one of those is most alive for you now? Is there something else you really want from life?
One of the other big themes in John’s gospel is how difficult it was for people to believe in Jesus – even when he was physically with them. Are there things that make believing Jesus difficult for you? What would help you strengthen (or begin) your belief?
Re – draw your picture of Jesus
I love how Jesus responds to the desperate father in the story of a demon-possessed boy in Mark 9. When the father says: ‘I believe, help me overcome my unbelief!’ Jesus doesn’t walk away from the guy because his faith wasn’t up to scratch. Jesus heals the boy, working with the little bit of faith the father could grab hold of.
How could that encourage you to approach Jesus with just the amount of belief and unbelief you have right now?
What practical action, response,or new way of thinking do you need to take into the week?
Have you encountered something about believing in Jesus – or in other things – that makes you want to say to God:
‘wow, I’ve kind of got that wrong in my life. Help me believe more in you’
Jesus invites us to repent often and with freedom. It’s a real gift from God – go for it!
Some questions to help you remix your story …
The idea of believing in Jesus can be a bit abstract and hard to pin down. Here are some ideas on how we can believe:
• Believe that what Jesus said about himself is true
• Believe in Jesus by accepting his invitation to come to him
• Believe in Jesus by trusting him more than anything else
• Believe in Jesus by loving him
• Believe in Jesus by inviting him to be present in your life.
o Which of those could you begin to do this week?
o There’s a difference between saying we believe something, and actually believing something. The best way to tell what someone actually believes is to look at the way they live. How might things need to change so that your life reflects your belief in Jesus a bit better?
From the WordSpace
Here are five posts from the WordSpace we’ve posted specially to tie in with this topic:
So a dad whose kid is demon possessed cries out to Jesus, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’ (Mark 9v24)
I love how God knows us and our flaws and inconsistencies and how sometimes we desperately want to WANT to believe but how sometimes it’s just so hard.
Today, rest in the fact that God understands your wavering faith and he still calls you to believe because he longs to offer you the spilling-over life that only Jesus can give. Maybe start by just acknowledging his power and majesty as you see it displayed in whatever the weather is doing today, and give him thanks.
Mark 9 here: http://bit.ly/1dnSQJu
Have you noticed how differently people can say your name? Say, one of your parents is angry and they call you; the way they mention it sounds different – right?
Or when a friend says your name with affection in their voice – makes you smile 🙂
How do you think Jesus would say your name? Scripture tell us this, referring to Jesus as a shepherd: ‘He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.’ John 10v3
It’s in the Old Testament too: ‘Fear not for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name. Child, you are mine.’ Isaiah 43v1 (http://bit.ly/18wIZSm)
There are a billions of people in the world, and yet Jesus knows your name! Do you believe that? If not, what would it take to convince you?
Believing in something you can’t see is simple but hard (did believing that Santa was watching you ever make a difference??)
When Jesus said ‘believe in me’ I think he knew it would be hard for us who don’t see him physically. But he promised amazing things if we did. Like this:
‘I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness’ (John 12v46)
What are the dark places for you: Is depression tempting you to self-harm? Don’t like who you are? Crushed by guilt or rejection?
You don’t have to stay in that dark place. Freedom begins with believing.
Read John 12 here: http://bit.ly/1ppB4i5
Eminem, one of the best-selling artists of all time, played live in South Africa in 2o14. Did you (or would you) go to see him live? Or did you maybe pray that the concerts would be canceled (like some did) – because … you know, he doesn’t exactly rap about Godly stuff?
When Jesus invites us to believe in him he promises we’ll find an amazing new kind of life – that never runs out – and that fills our dark places with light (John 7v38). What if we decided to try live that life out? Maybe the stuff in Eminem’s songs would be seen by more people for what it is – a bit lost? (without Christians doing dumb stuff against him)
Read John 7 here: http://bit.ly/ODV6HZ
‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty’ (John 6v35)
Really Jesus? Never hungry? Well actually I’m pretty hungry right now. Hungry to know that I’m ok – checking myself in the reflection of my friends’ eyes. Do they like what they see?
I’m so thirsty to know what I’m supposed to be doing with this life of mine. Can I just do one thing that has meaning?
And I’m dying to be loved and to love someone deeply.
So why am I still so hungry?
Maybe it’s the other stuff I’ve been going to and believing in. Will you draw me more to you?
Read John 6 here: http://bit.ly/1fuvnfU