It never ceases to amaze me when I succumb to fears that flow from a forgetful faith. It seems a week doesn’t pass (or sometimes even a day) when I am either mindlessly faithless or I have reduced my faith to mere “decoration.”
But that is easy to do in a world where serious devotion is seen as “silly” or “unsophisticated.” In our day and age where we really do trust lesser “strong men” to guard our home, family, and lives. We seem to put a great deal of faith in the stock market, politicians, our careers, or our possessions to keep us content and safe. All the while forgetting that “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:7
So why is that? Why do I struggle, sometimes daily, to actually live out the truth that “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.”(Psalm 24:1)?
Sometimes it’s just old fashioned fear. Sometimes it’s that all too easy forgetfulness that plagues us all. Sometimes it’s genuine doubt. But regardless of the cause, these moments are another opportunity to confront my true need for both repentance and exercising my faith. It is just as wrong to allow the evil one to condemn me at these moments as it is to fall into them in the first place. Rather, I must thank God for these moments because they become for me another step in my growing faith that “God is the Lord and has revealed Himself to us! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Look at our Gospel Lesson this morning in Luke 11:14-23. I won’t quote the whole pericope, but just the Lord’s response to those who accused Him of casting out demons by the power of demons.
“Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace; but when one stronger than he assails him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoil. He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”
You see, the True Stronger Man has come among us and He binds the power of the old strong man that use to enslave us to fear and doubt. And bind him He has by the power of His name, His love, and His uncreated Authority as God in the Flesh. Chris has indeed “trampled down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life!” In light of this truth, God, in His desire for me to truly know myself, brings me time and time again to confront this reality and once again affirm not just my mental assent to a religious habit, but to actually embrace the full implications of this universe-changing revelation. I am once again invited to exercise my faith in the face of what most would consider an impossible task. But it isn’t! The Strong Man has come!
Today, what are you facing in your life that seems impossible? Where is it easy for you to “forget” that even physical death has been emptied of it’s power to enslave us to fear and selfish defense? Perhaps it’s time to embrace the myriad of spiritual tools and reminders in our Orthodox faith that make physically visible our Lord’s triumph over the prince of this world. Perhaps it’s time to embrace fully the wisdom of a purposeful Orthodoxy to keep us on track and filled with the faith of the saints who kept the faith no matter what. Today, the Strong Man has come and He is your Eternal ally!