As the United States slides toward authoritarianism, and the United Methodist Church slides toward schism, it’s easy to be resigned. What can I do, anyway, you might ask? Don’t “they” have all the power?
I understand that the news looks that way. And there are even those who would have you believe this. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
As a Christian you come from a long line of miracle-workers, healers of the sick, and banishers of demons. Your people proclaimed the Gospel of the Kin(g)dom of God since Jesus first walked the earth. So put away the notion that you have no say in how things go. You are a spiritual badass in the making.
After all, Jesus lived under similar conditions. One of his primary beliefs, however, lifted him above the fray and activated his agency so that he might dare to make a difference. As you learn to believe like Jesus, this belief will activate your agency as well.
The Forty Days of Apostleship is designed to guide you to step into your spiritual power by emboldening you to expand your beliefs from simply believing in Jesus, to also believing like Jesus. This vital shift undergirds your evolution from practicing the faith of a disciple to developing the faith of an apostle. This faith expansion gives you access to new perspectives, which in turn gives you access to new actions.
Jesus’ Belief: Divine Partnership
Jesus believed that he operated in divine partnership with God. In fact, Jesus believed that he was one with God: “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) To those who doubted him, Jesus went on to say that this unity should be apparent through his many good works. I’m paraphrasing his words here, but he basically said—Look, even if you don’t believe my words, believe the works you’ve seen me do. Then you’ll know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father. (John 10:38)
Jesus’ belief in divine partnership is manifested through both his words and his works. So, to begin to believe like Jesus, you’ll need to re-consider both your words and your works as well.
Here is the two-part process to take this soulful step of belief.
Words: First, personalize and put yourself into the scripture: “I and the Father are one.” For instance, “I, Rebekah, and the Father are one.” Meditate on, repeat, and reflect on the truth of these words. As you do, draw your awareness from your head to your heart. Your head—headquarters of fear and self-doubt—will probably want to talk you out of this. If so, turn to your heart—your local hub for God-consciousness and divine connection. Notice how your heart responds as you repeat these words.
Works: Second, consider the good works that you have already done. Include who you have prayed for, cared for, blessed, and contributed to. Include the projects you have undertaken, the leadership you have offered, and the behind-the-scenes know-how you have given. Make a list of these good works. Then, celebrate them. I mean really celebrate them! Not for ego fulfillment but as a way of acknowledging your very real partnership with God. Doing these good works could not have happened without a holy alliance between you and God.
Embrace the Belief
As you re-frame both your words and your works, there is one more step to begin to believe like Jesus. That is to fully embrace this Jesus-belief in divine partnership. For help with this, let’s turn to ancient wisdom.
The ancients have always understood that to be human is to house the divine within, through the soul. More recent spiritual teachers have gently corrected this understanding: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.” Whether the soul houses the body, or the body houses the soul, your soul is the spiritual counterpart to your physical being. Together, body and soul are the complete you.
But unity with God is bigger than what happens within your body or your soul—as if either could be disconnected from a larger whole. As I note in Dream Like Jesus, “…if God is everywhere present, not a discrete being in the sky, but the quality of Being itself, that means that each of you is inside of God, and God is inside of each of you. You are surrounded by, and suffused with, Divine Power…Consider the vine and branches imagery in John 14:20. ‘I am in God and God is in me and you are in us. I am in you and you are in me,’ Jesus says.”
Jesus taught the apostles of old how to do the things he did. And how to tap into the zone of the miraculous to do so. The apostles cast out demons, healed the sick, and proclaimed the Kingdom. Clearly, they had to believe as he did in order to accomplish these things.
Beliefs shape your thoughts; thoughts are the vessels of your actions, and actions demonstrate your beliefs. So, as you begin to believe like Jesus, you will find that you are now able to take new kinds of actions.
As you grow in your belief in your partnership with the Divine, pay attention to new actions the Spirit is prompting you to try. Again, preference the encouragements of your heart over the cautions of your head. For instance, what evil or injustice would you address? What kindness or healing would you offer? What words of love or acts of hospitality would you risk?
Next, dare to put your emerging belief of divine partnership into action, as we journey together during this Forty Days of Apostleship. Be sure to let me know how it goes!
Adapted from forthcoming book, Believe Like Jesus © copyright 2020 Rebekah Simon-Peter