There is a deep weakness philosophically in we humans when it comes to Faith. We, all too often, reduce Faith to a mere mental assent to an idea rather than always pushing beyond the beginnings of Faith to actually doing the Faith.
This interruption in Faith in our everyday lives have huge consequences, not just for us, but for those around us who desperately look for an example in we Christians of true Faith and Hope.
St. Paul helps us with this today. Look at our lesson in Romans 4:13-25:
Brethren, the promise to Abraham and his descendants, that they should inherit the world, did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants — not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations” — in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, “So shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “reckoned to him as righteousness.” But the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
St. Paul actually has only the Old Testament scriptures that he uses to discern the wisdom of God in Christ. And his readers of Romans are treated to his reading of the Jewish Scripture and how they already pointed us to Faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul takes the great saint and Patriarch Abraham, whom the Jews hold as their founder and father of their whole nation, as the example of what God always intended to do in coming in the flesh. St. Paul insists that Christ came for the whole world and not just for the “chosen tribe” of people. In fact, he re emphasizes what the Old Testament already taught that the “chosen people” were “chosen” so that they could be a light to the rest of the people in the earth, not reduced to some exclusive “special” race that God treats better than everyone else!
He even reminds these “chosen people” that their very Law, given to them by St. Moses, was never intended to be reduced to simply “following the rules” but to PROVE to everyone that we humans are simply too weak to always follow the rules. We need to be taught this because of our stubborn pride, so God, in His love for us, gives us the Law to teach us of our desperate need for grace.
We need to have an inner transformation to a life of gratitude for God’s mercy to us SO THAT when we obey and do the faith, our motive is gratitude and not one of expecting to be “paid” for “doing” what we should. That significant transformation comes when we embrace a deep love for God in seeing how He always treats us as a loving Father.
So, today, are you doing religious things so that God will bless you or so that God won’t “send” you to Hell? That’s the wrong way to think about Faith. God has already given you everything for your salvation. And now, when you respond to His mercy and grace with gratitude, you will find yourself being Orthodox on Purpose.