Faith in Christ is a matter of the heart

1 August 2023

Faith in Christ is principally a matter of the heart, and then of reason. The Lord didn’t say, ‘If you understand me’, but ‘If you love me, keep my commandments’. This means that we can understand him to the degree that we try to love him. Our love for him, expressed as observance of his commandments, opens the door for him to come and dwell in our soul and body, so that understanding him becomes a matter of experience- the believer is literally taught by God. And, in any case, this is what he promised: the moment we keep his commandments, he appears within us; the whole of the Holy Trinity finds a ‘site’ to build a monastery. And his fundamental commandment is to have faith in him: ‘Believe in God and believe in me’. Everything to do with faith is bound up with love for his person. Loving Christ means believing in him, and believing in him means loving him.

Of course, this love isn’t an autonomous move on our part. We don’t love Christ all by ourselves. Our love’s a response to his love- ‘we love because he first loved us’. This is why its characteristic is humility. Without him we can do nothing. Saint Paul expresses this experiential truth in a unique way: ‘That which I experience in my body now is my faith in Christ, the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me’. If we don’t believe in Christ, and therefore don’t love him, then this is because we haven’t felt how much he loved and loves us. At the root of unbelief there’s always ignorance about God, which, according to our saints, constitutes the harshest, most painful reality that makes people writhe in the face of their existence which is incomprehensible in these terms. They literally don’t know what to do or how to deal with themselves. Faced with this predicament, the thing to do is to ask the Lord to allow us to feel even a small amount of his love, that is, to truly believe in him. This is what the great modern saint, Porfyrios Kavsokalyvitis, urged us to do.