What does it mean to “believe in Jesus”? It means more than believing that some man deserves to be called the Son of God.
It means more than saying a few prayers every day asking God to bless you and your family. It more than paying tithes, obeying commandments and offering sacrifice—and all the
other customs the Jews practiced in the Old Testament.
To believe in Jesus means more than trying to be a good person, paying your debts, refusing bribes and telling the truth. It means more than loving God and loving neighbour the way
the Jews were supposed to obey the two great commandments. To do all these things is wonderful and even necessary. But believing in Jesus demands something that goes beyond all this.
St Paul explains the mystery in his second letter to the Corinthians: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” What does it means to be “in Christ”? This was a formula the
Apostle used to describe anyone who had been baptized “in the name of Jesus”—any Christian who was a member of the Church. What does it mean for a Christian to be a “new creation”?
It means I cannot think the way I used to think—longing for the delights of Egypt while God is waiting for me in the Promised Land. I cannot look at the world the way the pagans
look at it—constantly obsessed with trying squeeze as much pleasure and comfort out of life as I can squeeze. I cannot let my heart be filled with the vinegar of this world—bent on
vengeance against my enemies. I must be someone who loves, who forgives, who is eager to help all those who ask for help. I must be like Christ himself.
FOCUS ON JESUS
To do this, I must focus my eyes on Jesus. I must focus my thoughts on Jesus. I must bend my will to want only what he wants. He must be my Lord, my Friend, my Master, my
Love, my Treasure-hidden-in-a-field, my Food and Drink, my Precious Pearl, my Morning Star, my One-and-Only, my All.
Jesus is the centre of history. Everything that came before him is old. Everything with him is new. He wants me to make him the centre of my life. Everything before I knew him is
old. Everything with him is new. This is why St Paul insists: “The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come.”
I do not claim that you have to feel good about this. You will have to struggle, and struggle fiercely, against the usual vices (pride, lust, laziness, greed and all the rest). I only claim
that this is what Jesus wants. Because he wants it, he makes the impossible possible.