Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Is There a Difference Between Believing In Jesus and Following Jesus?
This phrase is often heard in evangelistic contexts such as the question "Do you believe in Jesus?" But what does this mean, really? If we think about it many people believe that Jesus actually existed as a historical figure who walked the earth sometime in the first century. But of those who believe in the historical Jesus there are many differing views of who Jesus was (and is). We have Jesus the travelling Cynic, Jesus the Sage, Jesus the Stoic, Jesus the prophet and Jesus the revolutionary peasant just to name a few. I tend to think that there is a difference in believing Jesus and believeing in Jesus.
I took some time and did a quick comparison of a couple phrases from Scripture and what I found was interesting (at least to me). The word "believe" is used often in Scripture and rightly so. But I looked up the phrase "believe in" in the Gospels. I specifically focused on the words of Jesus or the phrase directed toward Jesus and I found the following break-down: Matthew 2x; Mark 1x; Luke none; John 7x = 10x total. I also looked up the use of the word "follow" as in Jesus' statement "Follow Me." I also included a few statements where another tells Jesus "I will follow you." Here's how this broke down in the Gospels: Matthew 8x; Mark 5x; Luke 8x; John 7x = 28x total. In full disclosure, this was a brief examination so these numbers may be off a little. However, I think there is the potential for something here. According to these numbers Jesus calls people to follow him rather than believe in him by a margin of nearly 3 to 1.
If this is true then what are the implications of this? What is/are the differences in "believing in" Jesus rather than "following" Jesus? Are these two ways of referring to the same thing?
What are your thoughts?