There was a popular, feel good, song some time ago that said “I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky. I think about it every night and day; spread my wings and fly away. I believe I can soar….” It was a bit of self-help fluff that is so prevalent these days.
But, it also contains some remnants of wisdom that shouldn’t be ignored.
In his book “The Abolition of Man,” C.S. Lewis writes “Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining ‘It’s not fair'” In today’s society we struggle with the challenge of materialism and the actually reduction of the human person to either a mere “consumer” or merely a cog in the collective “group” they are assigned to by those who would reduce all persons to members of groups – rich or poor, black or white, educated or uneducated, Left or Right, etc.
All of this flows from the central challenge since the beginning of reducing you to either a mere animal or machine or just one more individual. But, the tragedy of that mental and spiritual poverty is the ease in which others find in destroying others either physically or spiritually or emotionally. This amnesia of the power of person based on the miracle of the revelation of God Himself as Persons in Communion has real, daily, and eternal consequences.
The Good News is that this can be reversed and remedied. But it will require us to practice the final, basic, and fundamental discipline of the faith we will discuss this week. I’m sure there are many more, but this basic practice will feed all the other disciplines of our rich and multifaceted faith.
And that basic practice is Belief. Listen to today’s Gospel lesson: The Lord said to his disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
The original word translated “believe” is “pistevete” or “y’all keep believing!”
Again, this is another basic practice of the faith that is too easily misunderstood. Some think believing is only a mental practice. Others misunderstand “believe” to mean “in spite of everything you see, trust in this mythical idea.” Neither of these or all the other misunderstandings are even close to the truth.
The practice of believing entails both your mind and your actions. And scriptural belief always assumes that what you believe will be followed by how you act. Notice also that believing or trusting in Christ, according to our Gospel lesson, builds on our trust and belief in God. The men and women listening to the Lord were steeped in centuries of watching God remain faithful to the Jewish people, and now Christ calls on that confidence to say to His disciples “If My Father has earned credibility with you then let His credibility be shared with Me since I have also shown myself faithful to you.” So, if the Lord fulfilled His promise to come the first time, He will fulfill His promise to return.
And hasn’t the Lord Jesus shown Himself faithful to you in your life?
This final discussion of basic practices focusing on Belief is summed up in this Sunday’s divine liturgy as we remember the Fathers of the 1st Council. These heroes of the faith were men who had followed Christ no matter the persecution and no matter the cost. Their belief in Christ was seen in their behavior, in their priorities, and their love. Belief, true belief, always manifests itself in behavior.
So, Today, my dearest, practice believing by being informed by your faith, being a diligent student of your faith, and then allowing what you learn to inform and affect your choices and behavior. Don’t stop believing!