The end of the football season is upon us. In the coming weeks, the destiny of major trophies will be determined, promotion and relegation between the divisions decided, and the hysteria of many fans will reach boiling point. The jeopardy and thrill of sport is that the result is in doubt until the final whistle blows, and the invitation of every club and player to every fan is to “believe”.
Belief is everywhere, and what we believe as a nation not only matters, but may also surprise us.
As the Evangelical Alliance, we have been working with partners to deliver Talking Jesus, research into the state of faith in the UK. The report was released last week and found that 45 per cent of people in the UK think that Jesus rose again from the dead. Let that sink in for a moment. In a “rational” age when many would consign Christianity to the history books, almost half the population believe in the resurrection. That’s good news and here’s what I think we should do about it:
- We should be encouraged that many of our friends are further down the road of faith than we often think. The report also found that, when compared to the same study seven years ago, more people are open to exploring faith than they were then. Let’s take the opportunities to live our lives, tell our stories and extend the invitation to those around us, knowing that they are far more open than we might believe.
- We should remember the difference between belief and trust. There is a difference between giving something your intellectual assent and trusting in something to the extent that you commit to it and act in a way that you truly have confidence in it. My beloved AFC Wimbledon got relegated recently. I believed up until the last moment that they would survive, but not to the extent that I would have risked my life or wellbeing on it.
“Will you take heart from this research that not-yet Christians are closer to trusting Jesus than we might think?”
The Greek word in the Bible for belief is pisteuo, which infers leaning your whole weight on something, not just thinking it is true. It is clear from this research that while 45 per cent of the population believe in the resurrection, just six per cent are practising Christians. Becoming a disciple of Jesus is not a matter of thinking some facts about Him are true, but choosing to base your life upon His truth, and knowing Him as a person.
Today, I would ask you the same question from the research. Do you believe in the resurrection?
If you do, if you trust that the king of the world is alive, loves you, is with you and for you, and you choose to go all in on this belief – to order your time, money, priorities and relationships in light of the fact that Jesus defeated death, then that changes everything.
I believe we are entering into a new season in the UK as we emerge from a global pandemic, and as it begins, I am determined that my hope in my God exceeds that of a believing football fan in their team. Will you take heart from this research that not-yet Christians are closer to trusting Jesus than we might think? Will you join with me in committing fully to Jesus and making the most of the opportunities to make Him known?
I’m grateful for the Talking Jesus research and my prayer for us as the church is that we will be encouraged and move forward with greater knowledge of the landscape. My prayer for you is that you too will take heart and truly believe in the saviour who knows His way out of the grave.