“Be not afraid, only believe” (Mark 5:36)
It is certain all of us have experienced the pain and despair of illness to some degree. Even with a simple common cold, we wish we could be immediately healed of our aches and congestion. Sickness is not the only thing we wished to be delivered from. Hardships and difficulties, whether financial or relational, are hardly ever welcome in our lives.
Today, our Creed says much more based on God’s continuing revelation of Himself and the Church’s encounters with heretical movements over time, but the basic belief remains that Jesus Christ is Lord and Son of God. The Gospel of Matthew seeks to demonstrate this fact by recounting all the miracles of Lord Jesus. As we know though, repeating the Creed is not the only part of being a Christian.
Unfortunately, many of us have trouble making the leap from having a faith to experiencing our faith. Faith is recognized and expressed through action. In the book of James 2.19-20 it states, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”
As Christians, what we should or should not be doing is plainly laid out for us; The Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, participating in the life of the Church, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, befriending the stranger are but a few of the behaviors which reflect the righteousness of God and our belief in that God. We read also 1John 4.20, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”. This is a passage that should provide a wake-up call to all of us who have let sloth come into our lives and prevented us from living our faith.
We must live our faith in Lord Christ 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Consistency and commitment are essential to growth in faith. Otherwise, we may profess the Creed, we may experience God, we may even act like a Christian, but we will never be a Christian, we will never become like Lord Jesus Christ. Saint Paul writes in his First Letter to Timothy, “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1Timothy 6.11-12)
We have been called to believe in Lord Christ. If we believe, if we confess, must fight and must struggle through hardships. Remember, we do not live in a perfect world with perfect people. It takes plenty of effort to be a Christian all of the time.
We should also seek to understand what inhibits this fourfold process of faith. It is through hardships that we live Christian life and grow in faith. Well, there are two major obstacles in our road towards Lord Christ. Actually, they are more like alternate roads that our easy to follow. Lord Jesus says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For broad is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7.13-14)
The wide gate-road is fear. The Original Sin of Adam and Eve brought death into the creation. And it is our fear of this death that causes us to sin. Original Sin separated mankind from God, this brought corruption and death. Through the Resurrection, Lord Christ conquered death and made it a pathway back to God. By participating in the life of Christ we commune with God in this life and in the next. However, if we are afraid that our physical death is the end of our existence, the end of our life, then it doesn’t make much sense to live a life of asceticism and sacrifice, a life of laying up treasures in heaven instead of on earth. We may consciously acknowledge the reality of the resurrection life, but unconsciously our fear of death prevents us from living that heavenly life right now. To one degree or another, we all have this fear?the fear of the end of our existence. And that, my brothers and sisters, is the struggle of faith, to trust Christ when He said to the thief on the cross, “…today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23.43)
In the Gospel of Mark it is written, “While He was still speaking,some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. When He came in, He said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.”
“And they ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying. Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated,“Little girl, I say to you, arise.”Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age.And they were overcome with great amazement.” (Mark 5:35-42)
We should have faith in Lord Christ. Our faith will awaken us to the direct experience of God. Then, we should live our faith in action and finally, we should grow in our faith by living it consistently. The healing miracles that Christ performed are not beyond our own experience. Yet, the mysterious power of God is not something we earn, create or recreate through our own efforts. Just because we have not been healed or have not seen a miracle does not mean God’s power are gone. His grace is an eternal reality in which we participate to varying degrees or sometimes, not at all. But that is because it is difficult to see and experience God when our own ego, fueled by laziness and fear, is in the way. Our faith should be self-emptying. As John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Only then, can the Physician of our souls and bodies do his therapy and healing. (John 3.30)
Source: “The Role of Faith” By Saint George Greek Orthodox Church