“Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.” (Reference: John 12:44-48 )
On the last day, our belief or unbelief will rise up and condemn us. Not the judgment of God, nor even the judgment of Jesus. But whether we have believed in God or not. More explicitly, beloved, we in a sense pass a judgment on ourselves. If we have not believed in God or Christ, that is a judgment on ourselves, and rests on our conscience. Actually it burns and ferments on our conscience. It eats away at us, that we know Christ’s words are true on some level, but we refute them and deny them. At least . . . that is the theological theory.
But the wider truth is that people do not believe in God everyday; or more precisely, do not include it as part of their personal life view and perspective. And even if they do, it does not mean that they orient their life around that belief. It does not mean they are living an authentic Christian life. There is why there seems to be a paradox imbedded in this verse.
What does it mean to hear Christ’s words AND keep them? Perhaps it is not believe, or more precisely, lack of believe that condemns us. But belief that does not translate into action. Just as each one of us had to decide for him or her self what he or she believes, each of us has to decide what we are going to do about/with that belief. And that, beloved, is the greater burn.
May you believe our Lord Christ, and believe in God. And may that belief rule and guide your life. Selah!