Life Notes—August 6, 2009
“Then they said to him, ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:28
The whole idea of there being power in the belief in Jesus has been a puzzling one for me for much of my life. Intellectually, for something to have power or influence there must be action involved. Someone must be revving an engine or swinging a sledgehammer for there to be power and, at least for me, belief just never fit that category.
When I was studying psychology in school I was fascinated by Pavlov’s dogs and the long line of behavioral research that grew out of those early experiments. The theory is that rewarded behaviors are repeated. When a dog (or a rat or a teenager) was given a treat for a particular action, say ringing a bell, the behavior of bell-ringing was reinforced. They came to believe that when they wanted a treat, all they had to do was ring the bell. When the treat no longer followed the bell, the bell-ringing ceased. The researchers also learned that if the animal was rewarded with a treat only occasionally, the bell-ringing behavior persisted much longer. Perhaps this gives some insight into the tenacity of some peoples’ belief—that their belief is ‘rewarded’ on an occasional and unpredictable timeline. Our prayers may not seem to be answered each time we pray, but if some are answered our belief is strengthened and our faithful acts prolonged.
When I was studying English in school I learned that verbs were action words. Maybe my confusion about the power of belief has to do with my lack of verb-alizing my belief. My belief in electricity motivates me to plug things in to watch TV or listen to music or make toast. What action does my belief in Jesus result in? Perhaps what I was missing in the passage above was the action inspired by the belief in Jesus as the Son of God. That is where the power comes from, through which we perform the works of God.
This week Tom’s sermon title is “One Day At A Time.” The scripture is John 6:24-35. Life worship is at 10:45 in Brady Hall. Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00. Contemporary worship on the west campus is at 9:30. Communion will be served at all four services.
Life Notes are now at: www.lifeworshipnotes.wordpress.com. Follow the link and verbalize!
Keep ringing that bell!
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Worship Music Coordinator