With Faith and Love, Draw Near

With Faith and Love, Draw Near

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I have a head problem. I can’t get out of it.

Unfortunately, a large part of my journey to Orthodoxy was through my head. In fact, most of my religious life and formation have been deliberated through the school. Puzzles of logic and theological formulas were my specialties. Unwraveling the mysteries of the Godhead, the Creation of all things, and the End of Times was a hobby.

How arrogant to think I could figure that out, using ideas like Lego bricks to build silly toys for display.

But ideas are not people and are really hard to love. Rules and formulas don’t allow for communion and do nothing but give a strange assurance in your own power.

Eventually, the mind exhausts and the heart begins to open. The opening for me began in the words of the Liturgy, “with faith and love draw near.” With these words, we are invited to the chalice to partake in the Body and Blood of Christ. These words crush all logical formulations and mental gymnastics I might do to understand how God can infuse Himself into creation and bring life into Man.

These words are invitation to communion. We are being asked to participate in a relationship, not a theological dialogue. These words teach us how live. Every time we approach God, whether in the Divine services or in our prayer corners, we reach out to God in faith and love. We reach Him not with faith and understanding, but with faith and love. Our hearts believe that He is, and standing on that ground of belief, we reach out in love for Him.

To draw near to God in faith and love transforms the experience of prayer and Liturgy. No longer do I muddle over the words, wondering their theological significance. I try to pray them, because prayer reaches outside my head. They transform, not because I can parse their every dogmatic nuance, but because they connect me to a Person, who loves humankind.

So when my mind begins wandering, and it does often, I have faith and love I can use to draw near to God rather than worshiping my own thoughts and worries.

Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network.  You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+.

About author
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Theron Mathis

I am a sales and marketing guy with two degrees in religion. During my last year at a Baptist seminary, I stumbled into Orthodoxy, and it opened my eyes to a world I never knew existed. Within a year of graduation, my wife and I were received into the Orthodox church.

As a former Baptist, the Bible was the centerpiece of my faith, being instilled with the very words of Scripture from childhood. Yet Orthodoxy opened the Bible in ways I could never imagined (especially the OT). As Orthodox, we have often surrendered the Bible to the Evangelical Protestant world, yet every Church Father, prayer, and divine service breathes Scripture with every breath. It is this interaction of Church and Scripture that captures my heart. Time within the Church enriches the hearing of the Word, and time spent in the Scripture enlivens the words of the liturgy. They are inseparable, and to understand Scripture outside Liturgy is to rip the Bible away from its source of meaning. This connection animates my writing and reflections.

My biggest passions are my faith and my family. I attend church at St. Michael Orthodox Church in Louisville, KY, where I teach the adult Sunday school class. This has given me the opportunity to stay engaged in Biblical Studies and Patristics, and out of those classes I recently wrote The Rest of the Bible, introducing those “mysterious” OT books often referred to as the Apocrypha. You can find more info on my blog - The Sword in the Fire.