Faith in Christ is a Matter of the Heart28 July 2021
Faith in Christ is firstly a matter of the heart and then of reason. The Lord didn’t say ‘Keep my commandments if you understand me’, but ‘if you love me’, which means that we can understand him only to the extent to which we love him. Our love for him, expressed as the observance of his holy commandments, opens the way for him to dwell in our soul and body, at which point understanding him becomes empirical in nature- the believer is literally taught by God.
Besides, this is what he promised: when we keep his commandments, he appears within us; the whole of the holy Trinity finds a place to build a monastery. And his fundamental commandment is to have faith in him: ‘Believe in God and believe in me’. All matters of the faith are linked to love for his Person. Loving Christ means believing in him and believing in him means loving him.
This love, is not, of course, an independent movement on our part. We don’t love Christ of our own volition. Our love is a response to his own love- ‘we love because he first loved us’- which is why its main feature is humility. Without him, we can do nothing. Saint Paul expresses this empirically, in a unique way: ‘What I experience now in my body is my faith in Christ, the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for my sake’. It follows, therefore, that if we don’t believe in Christ and don’t love him, it’s because we haven’t recognized how much he loved and loves us. At the root of unbelief in God there’s always ignorance of God which, according to the saints, is the most lamentable condition. It causes people to ‘writhe’ before their manner of existence, which they find incomprehensible. They literally don’t know what to do and how to manage themselves. So, in the face of our predicament, what’s required is for us to ask Christ to allow us to feel even a little of his love. That is, to believe in him truly, as we’re urged to do by the great modern saint, Porfyrios Kavsokalyvitis.