Is the reason one should believe in Jesus the hope of a rewarding afterlife (heaven rather than hell) as suggested in yesterday's post? It seems, for some, this is all the "gospel" boils down to. As I mentioned, I have heard many say, "if there is no hell, then why follow Jesus?" in other words if there is nothing in it for me, then what's the point?
It seems this has become a very common understanding of what it means to "believe" in Jesus. One must think RIGHTLY about certain things such as Jesus, God, the Bible, and on and on (and the list of salvidic requirements keeps getting longer). but is that what Jesus meant when he said, "Believe in me?"... To merely think rightly?
Or could Jesus have actually been concerned with transforming peoples lives? When Jesus invited people to follow him he was more than likely asking them to give the Way he was living a try.
Central to his teachings was the concept of loving everyone, doing good to everyone, living sacrificially with and for others. Why? Not so individuals could get into heaven, but rather because Jesus seemed to think that this kind of life is the best way to live.
Jesus wanted to people to live a better life, a more content life, and a life that transforms instead of merely having the right thoughts/beliefs about him. I think sayings such as, "those who believe in me will not perish" have much more to do with how one is living here and now with their neighbors.
Jesus believed that those who lived a selfless, sacrificial life would inherit the life of God (eternal life), while those living the way of the world (what's in it for me), would bring destruction to themselves as well as those around them.
Instead of "right belief" it's more about "believing rightly."