Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” John 20:29 Friday of the 2nd Week of Pascha
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
I’ve never been to China, but I know people who have been there. I’ve never flown in outer space, but I have had the opportunity to meet someone who has.
There are a lot of things I’ve never seen and places that I’ve never been. Do I ever doubt there is a China? Do I ever doubt that the world isn’t really round? I’ve never seen either with my own eyes. However, there is so much evidence from people who have done these things that they must be true. And even though I haven’t personally experienced them, I accept them as truth. I believe, even though I have not seen them.
Believing without seeing is what faith is all about. When I got married, I didn’t have a crystal ball to tell me the future. When we had a child, we didn’t have a crystal ball either. Did we believe we could be successfully married? Or successfully have a child? We did, or we wouldn’t have done either. Will we ultimately be successful? Do I know that? No, I don’t. But I have faith in God, faith in the person I am married to, and faith in myself that what I can’t see are still things I can put my faith and my confidence in.
The most worthwhile things in the life require faith. If one knows all the variables and never “risks” anything, then there is no real reward in life. If no one takes a chance on anything, there is no success. Perhaps there isn’t as much failure or pain, but for sure there is no success, and no success IS failure and is painful.
There are many things in life that we take on “faith.” There is a difference between “knowing” and “believing.” “Knowing” is based on scientific or exhaustive knowledge. “Believing” is taking something on faith, with partial or sometimes virtually no knowledge. Did you “know” that you went to the right college when you started college? Unless you checked out every college in the world, the answer would have been “no.” When I was checking out colleges, I checked out three of them and then picked the one I went to “believing” it was the right choice. Do I know it was the right choice? I think so, because I had a good college experience. But, perhaps I might have chosen differently and still had a good experience. So, I “believe” I made the right choice.
When a person gets married, do they marry based on knowledge or faith? The answer is both—people have some knowledge of the person they are marrying. But no one has dated everyone in the world, or even many people, so the decision to marry someone is based in large part on faith.
The choice to follow the Lord is based on both knowledge and faith. It is not based solely on faith. Everyone has some knowledge of the Lord. And that might come through reading the scriptures, through the experience of worship or prayer, through life experiences where God is present, and even through the experiences of others. But we don’t follow the Lord based on knowledge alone. There are many aspects to Christianity where one has to have faith and that faith has to be a personal faith—remember the parable of the Maidens? We can talk to one another about the faith, but a person’s faith can’t be divided into parts and shared. Faith is something that has to be personal to each individual. I’ve never been to heaven, but I believe there is a heaven. I believe that there will be a judgment before Christ when I die. I believe that He will be merciful but also judging. How much of each, I don’t know. What I do know is that He has blessed me with some talents that He expects me to use and I will do my best to use them. I know that God is “glorious” because I’ve seen His glory in ways large and small throughout my life. I ask God, to “show me His glory in ways large and small” and then I keep my eyes open so that this prayer can be answered.
The other thing about faith is that it is a continuous action, not a destination or accomplishment. Going back to the example of marriage, I was married at a finite moment in time, I am married now and hopefully I will still be married many years from now. I took the first step of marriage at a finite moment in time. But marriage is something that I have to work on every day. It’s the same thing with faith. We take our first steps of faith in a finite moment in time. There was a finite moment of time when you realized that you believed “something” about God. Each day, then, there should be work to build on that faith through acquiring knowledge and experience. Thus, even what you can’t see, you still have confidence in because your faith is not a “blind faith” where you know nothing, but a knowledgeable faith, where you know something and crave to know more.
“O Thomas, according to your wish, handle Me,” said Christ to him. “Put out your hand, and be cognizant that I have flesh and bones, and an earthen body. Be not one who disbelieves. But rather with the others be confident.” And he in turn cried out, “You, O Jesus, are my Lord and God, and my Savior. Glory to Your resurrection.” (From the Praises of Thomas Sunday, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Blessed are those who have “seen” and want to see more!
Visit our site each day to read the daily devotion!
ABOUT THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN NETWORK
The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America, originally commissioned by SCOBA to create a national, sustainable, and effective media witness for Orthodox Christianity throughout North America. In a constantly changing media landscape, OCN delivers positive, relevant Orthodox content via multiple delivery platforms, reaching today’s internet users via broadcast, video, blogging, and webinar content.
This 501(c)3 is recognized as a leader in the Orthodox Media field and has sustained consistent growth over twenty years. OCN shares the timeless faith of Orthodoxy with the contemporary world through modern media. We are on a mission to inspire Orthodox Christians Worldwide. We have reached 5.7 Million People in One Week. Much like public radio, the Orthodox Christian Network relies on the support of our listeners, readers, and fans. If you are interested in supporting our work, you can send your gift by direct mail, over the phone, or on our website. Your gift will ensure that OCN may continue to offer free, high-quality, theological media.
NEW OCN MOBILE ORTHODOX APPS ARE HERE!
Spark OCN app is an Orthodox Christian News portal that allows you to take action. Spark provides daily devotions, live Bible study, and you can read and learn about events going on in the Orthodox Christian world, especially those concerning persecuted Christians. In addition to making it easy to share news and articles with friends, Spark allows you make prayer requests for those who are suffering.
Orthodox Prayer Book is the ultimate prayer assistant for Orthodox Christians. Not only does it allow you to carry your prayers around, it was designed from the ground-up for the iPhone to allow you to pray in the least distracting manner possible. Carry all the prayers, information about daily saints and fasting schedules with you throughout your day. Keep a list of people you want to pray for and have them automatically embedded into the prayers.
Click here to download the Spark OCN and Orthodox Prayer Book.
Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. OCN is on Social Media! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Pinterest