Actions Reveal Belief

Submitted by FatherAthanasios on Sat, 10/16/2021 - 09:30

We try not to do it, but every time see another person acting in a certain way, we presume to know what they believe. Although we might be, and in many cases probably are, wrong about what others believe, we have come to know that for the most part, actions reveal belief. This is one reason we are so careful to behave in a manner that is consistent with our Orthodox Faith.

The entire Gospel story is about witnessing behavior and coming to conclusions about faith. Today is the Feast of St Longinus, the Centurion who is quoted in the Bible as saying, “Truly this was the son of God!” You can read today’s Gospel passage below, which is chosen today in honor of St Longinus. He witnessed the actions of Christ and His followers, and believed in the message. Imagine if Christ did not ‘come through’ with actions that were consistent with His teachings? Would anyone have believed? Even those who persecuted Christ, it was because they didn’t want the message, not because His actions were inconsistent.

At that time, when the soldiers came to a place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull), they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, "This is Jesus the King of the Jews." Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, "You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross." So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said, 'I am the Son of God.'" And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" And some of the bystanders hearing it said, "This man is calling Elijah." And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him." And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split; the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!" – Matthew 27.33-54

Do your actions reveal your faith in Christ? Do you live as if you believe what you say, or do your actions betray you? We like to think our actions do not betray our lack of faith. St Paul, in today’s reading, also spoke of how other see our faith.

Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; be babes in evil, but in thinking be mature. In the law it is written, "By men of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord." Thus, tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers. If, therefore, the whole church assembles and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.” 1 Corinthians 14.20-25

When others see our actions, whether in the public square or the Church during worship, they will know our faith. If our actions are consistent with the faith, others will say, “God is really among you.” If not, they will turn looking for another way. Christ is the way, and we must show others not in our words, but in our actions. If we are callous, greedy, and cold to others, no matter how much we call ourselves Orthodox Christians, they will know we are liars. If we are forgiving, sharing and warm, they will know we are children of God.

If you read this far, you might be worried about that last incident during which you weren’t the perfect example of Orthodox faith. Don’t worry. We also believe in repentance, and when you show repentance and remorse, you also reveal your faith in Christ. People also need to witness how Christians get up, after falling to sin. Since we all sin, we all should be better examples of repentance. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the person and explain that you were wrong to behave in that way. Don’t make excuses, just apologize, and if the person is genuine, your relationship will grow. As your relationship grows, so too will your example, even after a few more gaffs, and together you will grow closer to Christ.

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