For those of you who don’t know, Christians are often referred to as believers. We believe that God loves us, and that he sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins. However, the term, so casually used by my fellow Christians, still scratches me a little, like a new dress. In all honesty, when I first heard it, it sounded a little cultish. But as a follower of Jesus, I do believe. I believe in what the bible tells me, I believe that if I go against God’s rules, I will pay a price. And I believe if I live the best life I can live for God, I will be rewarded in heaven. And yet, I am still a little uncomfortable with the word.
I do, however, have a beautiful wooden plaque with the word painted in bold blue paint. The plaque itself is a washed wood, the edges trimmed in red. And there are shadows of yellow stars dancing playfully behind the word. Plaques like mine are everywhere at Christmas. The word is splashed on t-shirts, engraved into ornaments and emblazoned on the front of festive gift bags.
But what does it mean? Believe, in what? I’ve had my plaque since long before I surrendered myself to Jesus Christ. And I’ve proudly displayed it every Christmas. But what was it representing? Belief in Christmas? Belief in Santa is probably more like it. Until recently, my kids knew who Joseph and Mary were, but didn’t realize they, along with Christ, were in anyway connected to the gifts that sparkled under the Christmas tree every December 25th. I mean, they did know that we have Christmas because of Jesus. They also thought that Tim Allen was really Santa Claus. But they never really truly understood the gifts, the gift of everlasting life we received because of what that little baby that was born that Christmas morning did for us. And the plaque I gently unwrapped each year after Thanksgiving, what did they think it meant? I can’t be sure, but I’m sure of what they didn’t think it represented.
They didn’t have a clue and neither did I, that the word meant faith, trust and love. They weren’t aware of how that one simple word captured the essence of a life of peace and comfort. I never told them that if they just did what was written on that plaque, that the darkest days they ever faced would be lighter, that the biggest fears they would ever harbor would be tamed. And that their deepest hurts, although unexplainable at the time, would make sense in eternity. I will do my best to tell them in my own, limited way.
If you are like me and still feel awkward with being called a believer, it’s okay. It takes time to shine as brightly as the stars on the plaque. But without the word believe there would be no plaque at all.