Today’s Gospel reading (Jn 3:31-36) comes at the conclusion of a nocturnal dialogue between Jesus and the Pharisee Nicodemus that spans this entire chapter of the Bible. Jesus tells Nicodemus that He has come down from heaven speaking the words of God and, per the excerpt at top, that He in fact is the Son of God.
Most striking about the quote at top is the contrast that Jesus makes. The first clause in the sentence references “belief.” One might think that the second clause, following a “but” would refer to “unbelief.” But this is not the word Jesus uses. Rather, He contrasts belief and disobedience. This is something I like to point out often in my writing and in my teaching. Following Jesus is not a matter of “easy believism”: acknowledging Jesus as Savior and Redeemer and then living life as if that dosen’t make a difference. No, Jesus is explicit here: not obeying His commands (He is God after all!) indicates a lack of belief in Jesus being who He says He is. Unrepentant serious sin when the Lord calls us to Himself leads to eternal death not eternal life (remember the goats in the parable [Mt 25:31-46])?. In the Gospels, Jesus speaks more about hell than about heaven. How we behave in this life determines our fate in the next life. Belief entails obedience — there can be no legitimate separation of the two. Do we live like we believe?