Posts tagged ‘unbelief’

People Today Believe in God

“I have the suspicion that men today believe in God more than at any other time in human history. Men know the Gospel, the teaching of the Church, and God’s creation better than at any other time. They have a profound consciousness of His existence. Their atheism is not a real disbelief. It is rather an aversion toward somebody we know very well but whom we hate with all our heart, exactly as the demons do.” — A. Kalomiros, THE RIVER OF FIRE [taken from Slava Bogu (Слава Богу за всё) on Facebook]

The suspicion of Dr. Kalomiros expresses exactly what I have thought as well (caveat – I have not read the book from which the quote was taken, so I am merely making a few comments on the content of the quote). We live in an age when more people than ever have been exposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. More people have exposure to the teachings of the Church; more people know more about Christian Faith and doctrine and life than ever before. Because of our various advances in science, we know more about the physical creation than ever before in human history. Not only do we know more now, but our knowledge increases exponentially year by year. As Kalomiros writes, people today have a “profound consciousness” of the existence of God. Our science has done nothing but prove, continually, that this magnificent creation could not be without a Creator. God is real, and more people know this today than ever before.

The problem is not knowledge – people do not fail to believe, but rather they hate what they know. The rampant “atheism” of today is not true disbelief, but is the same affliction that the demons deal with. The demons know God is real, but they choose to reject Him. Great numbers of our contemporaries reject God as well. He is rejected because of the life He calls us to live. If He were to be acknowledged, then a radical transformation would take place in peoples’ lives and in our society. In short, God is so rejected and reviled today because people want to do whatever brings them pleasure. People want to determine their own course in life, and to make all of their own decisions. The heartbreaking reality, however, is that in following this course people become slaves to their passions, instead of finding true freedom and personhood in Christ.

Even those of us who acknowledge our Lord and profess ourselves as Christians have to keep this in mind – the will of God is what we are called to seek and to submit to at all times. We are not to rely on our own will and our own wisdom, but to submit ourselves to God. Those who reject God do so for exactly this reason – it is a refusal to submit to anyone other than themselves. May He protect us all from this demonic pride. May God give us all the grace to truly seek Him in everything in our lives.

Author Matthew Jackson

Homily on Matthew 17:14-23

  • Text of Gospel Reading
  • In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
    Christ is in our midst!
    If you spend much time reading the Scriptures, the sequence of events and the Apostles’ actions will begin to amaze, even flabbergast, you. Two weeks ago (on August 6) we celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ. This morning’s Gospel picks up a mere 5 verses later, with the Lord and His Disciples having just coming down off Mt. Tabor. The Disciples, three of them having just experienced the Transfiguration, having just seen the revelation of the fullness of the glory of God in Christ, are presented with a test. Scripture teaches us that gifts from God—like the Apostles experience on Mt. Tabor—come with testing, to help us preserve what we’ve received and to continue to grow. So the Disciples are faced with a test. A man brings them his son, who suffers from epilepsy. He says the boy often falls, or throws himself in other Gospel accounts, into fire and into water. Not only is the boy afflicted with a terrible, and at that time totally untreatable disease, his family also has to fear for his bodily safety because of the things he does when he suffers from his illness. So this man, having obviously heard of Christ, heard that Christ is a great healer and teacher, some even say He’s the Messiah. So with this knowledge, the father brings his son to Christ. Actually, St. Matthew says he first brought the boy to Christ’s disciples. The disciples were already known by their association with Christ, and they had already been given the power to cast out demons and to heal the sick. But the disciples were unable to heal the boy. What a terrible moment in time that must have been—living and working with the Messiah, witnesses of the full glory of God, they were unable to do one of the things He gave them power to do. So the man brings his son to Christ, tells Him of the terrible affliction the boy suffers, and tells Him that the disciples were unable to help. Perhaps He could help the boy. Then Jesus says some startling words—“O perverse and faithless generation…how long shall I bear with you?” He then has the boy brought to Him, casts out the demon, and the child is cured. Later, in private, the disciples ask, “Why couldn’t we heal the boy?” Christ goes back to the startling words He spoke at the miracle—“Because of your unbelief…if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” In another of the Gospel accounts the contrast between belief and unbelief is made even stronger. Before the miracle, Christ asks the boy’s father—“do you believe I can do this?” And the father responds—“Lord I believe, help Thou my unbelief.” It’s astonishing that after all they have witnessed, the miracles, the feedings, the healings, even the Transfiguration, that the disciples could still be told that they don’t believe. What does Christ mean when He tells them they lack faith? Sometimes we like to approach the Christian life in very much the same way we approach everything. If it makes sense, then it must be right. If I see some proof, then I can believe. So we read the Bible, we “understand” it, we accept the witness of the Church Fathers, our elders, even our own experiences with God. And therefore we believe. But in the Scriptures we’re reminded that the wisdom and way of God is not the wisdom and way of men. The Apostles have no problem believing when Christ is standing before them in glory, or when He’s performing miracles before their very eyes. But when it comes to believing that they also have been given this power, their faith suddenly falters. But it made sense, they saw it, they lived it. But when it came right down to it, they still lacked true faith in Christ. Christ told them if they even had the tiniest bit of faith, like a mustard seed—which is called the smallest of all seeds in the Scriptures. If they even have a tiny amount of faith, nothing would be impossible for them. In fact, in another passage Christ tells them they will do greater things than He does by the power of the Holy Spirit. Faith is not rational acceptance and understanding. If it were, the disciples would have had no problem healing the epileptic boy. They knew Jesus could do it. The faith Christ is speaking of is giving of oneself wholly to Him. If the disciples had fully dedicated themselves, in every way, to Christ, they could have healed the boy. And in fact, after the Resurrection, they do give themselves over entirely to God’s will. Performing countless miracles, spreading the Gospel message, and even dying for Christ. Faith is not believing what you see when you see it, that’s common sense. Faith is believing that every word of Christ is True, and then living those words.
    Christ calls us not only to believe in Him, that He’s real and the stories in the Bible are true. Christ calls us to believe on Him—to believe the promises He made to us and then to live like we believe those promises. “Don’t worry about your clothing or your food, the Father will care for those things,” Christ said. “I come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly,” He preached. “Anything that you ask in My name, the Father will grant it.” “Where two are three are gathered in My name, I am in the midst.” Do we live like these promises are being fulfilled? Christ came to offer us life. To offer us the chance to be entirely healed of our sin, our evil self-destructive desires. And being healed of the broken-ness of this world, brings man life abundantly both in this world and in the next. But we have to see things through the lens of the Gospel. Abundant life in the Gospel is communion with God, regardless of the physical and material situations we find ourselves in. Placing our entire life into the hands of Almighty God. And that’s not an easy thing to do. We like to be in control of ourselves. To hold back little things for me. But Faith of the sort Christ preaches is Faith that keeps nothing for itself, but offers everything to Christ. Faith that begs, “Not my will, but Thine.” Faith that lives, ”It is no longer I, but Christ that lives in me.” True faith in God is not just a belief that the words of the Bible are true, God is real, and maybe I can go to heaven by admitting that. It wasn’t too long ago that even society felt it only common sense to acknowledge the existence of God. True faith is living the commandments of Christ, and knowing that God is faithful and just in all that He has said. In striving for this faith, our prayer should mirror the prayers of those in Scripture, many of which we’ve already mentioned. “Lord I believe, help Thou my unbelief.” “Not my will, but Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” “Lord help my will to be overshadowed by the life of Christ in me.” The only way to have true life, true healing, to be truly human, is to be “a little Christ.” “Lord, we believe. Fill our unbelief with the fullness of Thy eternal life.”
    Glory to Jesus Christ.