This was the question being posed to me and other pastors and ministry leaders at a conference I attended not too long ago. This question resonated with me and bounced around my mind and soul, ringing loudly in my ears: “Do I actually believe it?”
Every week I teach the good news of Jesus Christ to the children who come into our church on a Sunday morning. I emphatically tell them how much they are loved and how Jesus cares for each one of them individually. I tell them (most often with tears in my eyes!) how there is a God who created them and knows exactly who they are and that they are deeply loved. I am passionate about this – I love Jesus and I want them to know Jesus loves them too!
Then that question was posed to me – “Do you actually believe it?” as in “Do you actually believe the gospel was meant for you just as you preach and teach to others each week?”
My gut reaction was, “Of course! How can you not believe it?” This is something I teach each week. How can I teach something I don’t really believe!
And yet, this question kept coming back to me, “Do I believe it? Do I actually believe that Jesus died on the cross for me, as in capital “M” me? Do I preach the gospel to myself? It is easy to preach the gospel to others when you are thinking of it in a sense of the masses. It is easy to translate that grace to others who are earnestly seeking and in our empathy we are able to offer Christ. It is easy to know the rote answers to the questions that are being posed; the question of “Do I actually believe it?” But it is not always that easy to translate that grace and empathy when it comes to our own heart and soul, at least it is not always for me.
I feel that it is a feeling of worthiness that prevents us from feeling like we are free to believe that grace of Jesus has been extended to us. We know the fullness of our brokenness. We know the darkness that creeps into the cracks and crevices of our lives. We know how broken our foundation truly is – God does too.
Is that not great news?! The news that we preach each week – the news that we pray others receive and understand. God knows how broken our foundation is and still, he died for us anyways. “While we were yet sinners….” He died for me – capital “M” me. There is such freedom in that simple yet profound epiphany. So I ask you, “Do you actually believe it?”