Christ is risen!
Then the jail keeper called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And the keeper of the prison brought Paul and Silas out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. (Acts 16:29-33)
Sts Paul and Silas tell the jail keeper that to be saved he must “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” He must have faith, faith in Christ. What does this mean? Orthodox abbess, Mother Raphaela, offers some insight into what having faith means.
We know that the answer for any Christian is not to abandon what God calls them to, however. We struggle to cease to be ‘functional atheists’: we struggle not only to believe in God with our minds, but also to accept in our daily lives that He is in control of everything, even our own sins and the hard times around us and in the Church. None of us in today’s world can see the future, but we can trust that whatever it holds is meant for our salvation. (LIVING IN CHRIST, p 61)
One aspect of faith is trusting God – believing that God is Lord over the entire universe, including our personal lives. It is believing with hope that life has meaning and that God is working out His plan for the salvation of the world, even though we might only be experiencing in the world frustration, confusion, doubt and anger over what is unfolding in our lives and/or in the world. God’s role or help or salvation in the world might not be visible or obvious to us. Faith tells us to hope in and trust God’s love and plan despite what we might fear or what we are experiencing.
The Coptic Orthodox monk known as Matthew the Poor points to Moses as an example of a man of faith in a world which was hostile to him, and in which the Israelites were powerless and subservient to their Egyptian overlords.
Had it not been for Moses, Israel would not have journeyed for a single day in the desert. Yet Moses journeyed forty years in the hope of reaching the promised land. His only resource throughout this long struggle was faith. By means of his towering faith, he managed to lead an obstinate people forty years in a most arid wilderness. We need the leadership of Moses for ourselves so that we can walk by faith. By faith we can push ourselves to go on even though we can see nothing. However long our struggle may last, we should keep on going along the way of God, for we are certain that at the end of the trail lies the Heavenly Jerusalem prepared like a bride for her bridegroom. But so long as the journey goes on, we should be satisfied with God’s faithfulness to his promises, the secret encouragements that he gives us, and his voice speaking to us out of eternity. (ORTHODOX PRAYER LIFE, p 177)
Faith encourages us to keep going, to keep seeking God and sojourning to God’s Kingdom no matter what we might be experiencing in the world, no matter whether we see any sign of God’s activity in our lives or not. Faith is trusting in God even through the worst of times believing that in the end (but not necessarily right now) God will triumph. This type of faith is very much a part of Winston Churchill’s thinking in a quote I’ve mentioned in other posts: “When going through hell, keep going.” Trust and believe that whether in hell itself or whether in a hell on earth, God will be on the other side of the cross and grave for God’s will really does govern the universe.
My heart is broken by yet another mass murder carried out by a gun owner in America. While I encourage all of us to pray both for the victims of these gun murders and their surviving family members, I realize that prayers must seem almost powerless to the family members of the victims. Their lives too stopped at that moment and some part of them was murdered as well. No other nation on earth seems to have the gun murders that America has – whether counted as individual deaths or mass shootings. We seem to have accepted that the price of the 2nd Amendment is that some of our children must die to gun fire. It strikes me that it is the gun owners in this country who have to come up with solutions to this. If law abiding citizens want the right to bear arms, they are the ones who have to come up with solutions for how to prevent other gun owners from massacring children and other citizens. Can believers in America really expect God to bless a country that won’t do everything possible to make its children safe? Faith requires us to weep before God for our failures and to seek solutions to end the gun violence of this country.