Faith column: Belief is not a matter of blind faith
“These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)
What do you believe in? It may seem like a “religious” question, one that relates to matters of faith in things unseen or things that cannot be proven. But our lives are built around “beliefs” each and every day. Belief, as Webster’s defines it, is “something that is accepted, considered to be true,” or the “conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of something, especially when based on examination of evidence.”
We believe that the sun will rise every day. We believe that gravity will continue to keep our feet on the ground. We believe that when we look in the mirror each morning, we will see the same image, the same person we saw the morning before. We believe those close to us, because they have proven to be trustworthy in the past, and we are confident that they will continue to be so.
Belief is not a matter of blind faith. Belief, based on evidence, experience, the trustworthiness of others, is what gives our lives some sense of consistency and continuity – our beliefs are what bring order to our lives, and enable us to act in ways that will bring about predictable results.
In this season following our celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Church calls us to remember why we believe. John tells us the purpose of the Gospel account that he has written, the eyewitness testimony he has given concerning the Risen Christ – “that you may believe.” He recounts the empty tomb, the various appearances of Jesus to the disciples following His resurrection. He, like the other Gospel writers, go to great lengths to provide the “evidence” that Jesus of Nazareth who lived, taught, performed signs and wonders, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, conquering death by His death.
Christian belief is not wishful thinking or fairy tale. It is not a myth constructed by human beings because of some emotional or psychological defect. Christian belief, following Webster’s definition of belief, is precisely the “conviction of the truth or reality of something, especially when based on examination of evidence.” For 2,000 years, Christians have continued to proclaim their faith that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that in believing in Him, we may have life in His name.”
But Christian belief goes far beyond mere head knowledge or doctrine. It is not about giving lip-service to what the Church has always taught. True belief, in every instance, results in action. Belief in Christ results in a transformed life, in a different way of living. The gospel turned the world upside down in the early centuries of the Church, not through some slick propaganda campaign or because it was a new ideology. What turned the world upside down were the lives that were transformed by the power of the Risen Christ. They actually believed in Him whom they had witnessed risen from the dead, because they knew Him in their own experience.
We must ask ourselves the question, “Do we really believe?” I’m not talking about signing on the dotted line of some doctrinal statement or even whether we recite the Nicene Creed every Sunday. I’m asking if we really believe that God has visited planet earth in the Person of His Son, and that through His death and resurrection we have life – that what we think of as life on this earth is but a blink of an eye compared to what God has prepared for us in Christ – that all our pain, suffering and loss, even our own death, is overcome by the love of God in Christ Jesus. Do we really believe that?
I suspect if we did, if we really believed, the world would continue to be turned upside down as it witnessed the power of the Risen Christ in us.
Fr. David Henderson is priest at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, 691 Green Street, Craig, Colorado. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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