|Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes - Spiritual Nourishment for the Soul - September 2004|
A Struggle To Find Faith
He said to them, “For truly I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain. Move hence to yonder place,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” (St. Matthew 7:20)
In these troubled times it is very difficult to find people with faith in Christ our God. Looking back into the Holy Scriptures, we can see a parable showing that Christ had some difficulty in teaching His apostles, simply because of their lack of faith, which He saw in the way they spoke and behaved. He warns them about the perverse “faithless generation” (St. Matthew 17:17).
For to Jesus faith is the assurance that everything is possible to God, the assurance that He gives what He promises and what He ordains. Faith is a power that can move mountains. To remove mountains is to know that there is no burden so heavy that God cannot help us carry it, no problem so insoluble that He cannot remove it. If Jesus accused his first disciples of unbelief, what does He think of us today? What patience must He have to continue to tolerate us?
The term faith denotes a level of spiritual knowledge, of inner perception, of higher truth. This is how St. Paul viewed it when he defined faith as the “substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1), and when he said: “now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face …now I know in part; then I shall understand fully” (I Corinthians 13:12-13). Therefore, the believer in Christ must have some knowledge of the truth. Once he has that knowledge it is possible to have faith stirred up in us. It can now be said that love is grounded in true faith.
Faith is the very foundation of love and the whole Christian way of life. Our Lord Jesus Christ, His apostles, and the Church Fathers speak much more often of faith than of love, even though they emphatically assert that love is the highest virtue for the Chrsitian believer “...if I have not love, I am nothing” (I Corinthians 13:2).
Now that we have reached this point, our faith must now be a living faith, confirmed by the works of the new man, and not the good works of a fallen nature, which are repulsive to faith. This in itself is what faith offers to man: his salvation. The faithful Christian first must understand that if he desires to follow Christ and live up to His teachings it will be a struggle for him and it will always require faith! Is not our failure, our inability to communicate with ourselves much less than with God, an expression of our personal struggle with having faith?
Consequently, our religious outlook today can be described as being slack, complacent and having an expedient kind of faith. This is especially suited to a society that wants everything made easy - a guaranteed or your-money-back sort of thing. But true faith as a Christian means “taking the plunge”, becoming immersed in the life of Jesus Christ by the actions of His Spirit within our hearts, minds and bodies. It is saying a heartfelt and humble “yes” to Him Who has made all things, and Who holds us in the palm of His hand – the guarantee that He has made us and loves us.
We, as individuals, must make our way, which often can be a struggle, along the unknown road of life. We cannot see clearly the route of this road, and see its bends, dips and hills. We may even have developed the habit of imagining hairpin bends and deep dips that, in the reality of God’s plan for our lives, may not exist at all! So we should offer ourselves, then, to God in the faith that He alone knows the road and will unfailingly guide us upon it, so that we may be at peace and experience His good will towards us.
It is only with faith and love of Christ our Savior that we begin to have that peace of mind, being enabled to live with God, with others, and with ourselves. Yes, there may well be problems, disappointments, anxieties, frustrations, times of sickness, and loneliness in our lives, but such struggles will have a new dimension if we use faith. There will also be times of joy, happiness and delight! With this new outlook on life, we will be able to live in harmony with our neighbor, and achieve our goals. We will begin to act and think as true Christians - forgiving, as He so willingly forgave; loving and having faith, as He so humbly loved His enemies; and giving, as He so generously gave Himself upon the Cross for us sinners. Are we ready and willing to have faith in God? Do we truly desire to become acquainted with our Lord? We ourselves can only answer these questions. We alone can move the mountain with “faith.”
Humbly In The Love Of Christ Our Lord,
+Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth Peace, Good Will Toward Men!
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(c)Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes