On Friday night, I had a conversation I didn’t expect at the ERLC conference. A man came into the exhibit hall and started talking to me at my booth. The first thing he said: “Do you really believe all this stuff?”
The conversation was long and kind of all over the place (and in areas downright odd), but it was an opportunity for me to share the gospel. I definitely didn’t expect this when I arrived at the conference that morning!
One thing that sticks out is how this man, in some ways seemed to be trying to convince himself not to believe. He wasn’t willing to believe because he didn’t want to believe it. He was doing all he could to fight for his unbelief. To protect it and strengthen it. Which, of course, makes sense given the whole people “loving the dark thing and hating the light” thing and all… (see John 3:19-20)
I’m not sharing this to be self-righteous or look down on this man. At least, I hope I’m not. Instead, the whole conversation reminded me of my own unwillingness to believe before Jesus wore me down. I wasn’t anymore willing to believe the truth than the next person. In fact, I was probably worse because this man shared a desire to go back in time (or have God send him back in time) and change the past. I didn’t really have that. Before coming to faith, I had no desire to believe. Which is a problem, because as Spurgeon wrote, “The entire willingness to believe is nine-tenths of believing.”
Inasmuch as to will is present with you, the power which you do not find as yet will certainly come to you. The man is dead, and the hardest thing is to make him live; but in the case before us the quickening is accomplished, for the man lives so far as to will: he wills to believe, he yearns to believe, he longs to believe; how much has been done for him! Rising from the dead is a greater thing than the performance of an act of life. Faith in Christ is the simplest action that anybody ever performs. It is the action of a child; indeed, it is the action of a new-born babe in grace. A new-born babe never performs an action that is very complicated. We say, “Oh, it is such a babyish thing,” meaning that it is so small. Now faith comes at the moment that the child is born into God’s family; it occurs at the same time as the new birth. One of the first signs and tokens of being born again is faith; therefore it must be a very, very simple thing. I venture to say that faith in Christ differs in no respect from faith in anybody else, except in the person upon whom that faith is set. You believe in your mother: you may in the same way believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. You believe in your friend: it is the same act that you have to do toward your higher and better Friend. You believe the news that is commonly reported and printed in the daily journals: it is the same act which believes Scripture and the promise of God.1
I read this, and I thank God. Not because I’m better, but because he gave me the willingness to believe. I read and and I hope he will give that same desire to the man I spoke to on Friday night. That he would come to know that “faith in Christ is the simplest action that anybody ever performs,” and that he would believe. Because unbelief is so much harder. Convincing yourself that the truth is a lie wastes so much energy. Honest belief is simple because it’s true. And when we believe, it changes everything.