Gospel Message & Recording
Believing or having belief in a doctrine, theology, or moral code, etc. is often considered a condition of the mind. That is, believing is a person’s willful consideration in accepting or rejecting an idea. We might understand this as having a particular political, social, religious or economic viewpoint. For example, one might say, “I believe in conservative values.” Or conversely, “I believe in liberal ideas.” Therefore, believing is a commitment we have toward an idea or system of thought. In the Gospel reading today we read/hear about the visit of Elizabeth to St. Mary. Elizabeth says, “Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” (St. Luke 1:45) Here, Elizabeth is specifically stating that St. Mary believed what God (through the Angel) had declared to her (as we read in the previous Gospel reading). In other words, St. Mary believed that God could and would use her for His glory. This was not a belief in wanting more money or to live a better life, as some would teach; but rather, that she submitted to the will of God and believed that God would use her.
Similarly, we have to believe that God will use us for His glory. But is “believing” only consist of submitting to a thought or set of ideas (as mentioned above)? Or is it more than that?
Believing, in the context of Orthodox Christianity, means that it is followed by (in no particular order) a set of personal commitments to the Lord Jesus Christ, such as 1) trusting in Him 2) delighting in Him 3) surrendering to Him. These commitments may not occur immediately; but in time, if we keep on trying, they will start to grow and become stronger in us.
Trusting in the Lord means that we have “security” in what the Lord is doing in our lives. No matter the trial or tribulation, we trust that the Lord is doing what is best for us. Trust is hard because we want, for the most part, everything to go our way. But as it says in Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding.” In other words, we might not know what is going on around us but we trust the Lord is in charge.
Delighting in the Lord means that we enjoy his presence. In real simple terms it means we “like” him. In the Gospels Jesus said, ‘He no longer considers us servants but friends.’ (John 15:15) From our modern Christian-American perspective “liking” and calling Jesus our “friend” sounds like a watered-down for of Christianity. But from an Orthodox Christian perspective, however, calling Jesus our friend means “delighting” in the fact that he is always with us. In other words, we like being Christian. It’s not something we do because we were born into the Church or because we do it out of obligation or fear.
Surrendering to Christ means that we attempt at much as possible to give-up our sinful habits, especially those sins that are causing us great harm and preventing us from enjoying the fullness of God. The Gospel of Mark 1:21-26 records that a man was demon possessed and recognized Jesus and spoke to Him. In other words, the demons believed the authority of Christ. That is, they recognized who He was/is. So, it is not only important for us to believe, for even the demons believe in Christ. But rather as Christians we have to surrender our sinful passions and temptations to Christ, day-in and day-out.