Summer reading always posed a problem for my high school self. I blame SparkNotes. The novels weren’t difficult, I was given ample time, just the knowledge that there was an easier way to pass caused my motivation to dwindle. I never once gave it my all, because I knew SparkNotes had my back.
I attended a college Bible study a few months ago and we were walking through John 11. The death of Lazarus is a familiar story, but that particular night God revealed a new truth to me through scripture.
John 11:40-42 – “Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.'”
A couple of things struck me about this passage, the first being the amount of comfort we can all draw from the idea that Jesus will say things on behalf of our lack of understanding. Even when we are shrouded in disbelief of God’s capabilities, he’ll do things so that we may believe and understand. I know I too often fit into that category. More times than not, I’m like the people in John 6:30 who ask Jesus, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?” We want a sign before we believe. After all, seeing is believing…right?
Well, not when it comes to Jesus. There are times throughout scripture where Jesus gets a little sassy (Holy Sass as I like to call it) and John 11:40-42 is one of those times. Jesus tells Martha that if she believes then she will see, not the other way around as our world likes to think. We also see in Jesus’ prayer that he knew the whole time that the Father heard him. If we are aiming to be more like Jesus, then seeing is not believing…believing is seeing.
So, how often do we rely on the SparkNotes version when it comes to our belief? Seeing the signs and then believing is obvious; however, having total faith before the signs is difficult and something we should all seek.
In the end, SparkNotes only gets you so far. For many students, cutting corners like that results in a ‘C’, and in my case a ‘B’. I know, though, that if I would’ve buckled down and not relied on the easy road, I would have without a doubt gotten an ‘A’. I just wonder, if we settle for the easy way out (the SparkNotes version of belief) aren’t we settling for a ‘C’? Would we get to see more of God’s glory if we just believed in the first place? Does our initial disbelief lead to us settling for less than God’s best for our lives?
I urge all of us to not rely on the oversimplified version. Don’t seek the signs, seek the Savior (cliche?…possibly). Strive for the ‘A’…doing so will lead to God’s best for your life.