My husband was an atheist when I married him, and one of the things that bothered him was that you had to believe in Jesus in order to be “saved.” To him, it was a complete power trip and he wanted nothing to do with it. Ifhe was a good person, trying to do the right thing, that should be enough, and he should be allowed into the club. It turns out that this understanding, like so many that he had, was completely backwards.
Jesus doesn’t need us to believe in Him so that He feels valued or because we need to see His sacrifice as important. He needs us to believe that what He did was for us. That’s all. If we can believe, if we can truly accept that Jesus died for our sins, then we can receive the payment that was made and the grace that was given.
It’s like going to the payment window at a drive-through restaurant. If we are told that the person in front of us paid for our meal, we can believe that information, receive the food, and eat without paying the cost. If we refuse to believe it, no matter how insistent the cashier may be, we will leave our money, paying the cost ourselves, and refuse the gift that has been offered to us. After all, it is our choice. The person paying did so freely from their own generosity. All we need to do is believe.