Believe in Christ and Experience Life
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.”
This is how Saint John the Evangelist ends his Gospel account. The four Gospel writers don’t write about every detail in the life of Jesus Christ. Actually, there are many parts of the earthly life of Christ we know nothing about, including what happened during the first 30 years of his life. Yet the Evangelist John emphasizes that he did share in his Gospel all that is necessary so “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.”
Believing in Jesus Christ so that we may experience life in His name. This is what our goal is as Orthodox Christians – to believe so that we can have a full and abundant life.
Christ doesn’t want us to simply exist, living in a superficial manner and struggling through each day without knowing the deepest meaning and purpose of life. Jesus wants us to experience the fullness of life, a divine life filled with love, peace, joy and hope. He wants us to wake up each day proclaiming “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
He wants us to face each day with gratitude and thanksgiving, knowing that we are never alone and that in whatever life may bring, He will be with us and will guide and protect us.
He wants us to know that we are His children, deeply loved and cared for, and that when we know and truly experience His love, we will become ambassadors in sharing His love with the world around us.
He wants us to understand that life has a deep and meaningful purpose in which each one of us are instruments in His hands, bringing His light and joy, His Good News, to a world that is desperate for Good News. No matter how great the darkness and hopelessness of the world appears, we know that God is in control and we live according to His purposes and ways.
We believe in Jesus so that we may experience life in His name!
Now, such belief in the name of Christ is not always easy to experience. Belief and faith are part of a life-long journey of discovery. We may have doubts and questions. We may have moments of uncertainty during which we struggle to understand. We may face challenges in life that try to shake the foundation of our faith. We live in a contemporary society that does much to minimize, ignore and even reject the importance of faith.
Our belief and faith are a part of a living reality that we must nurture and cultivate throughout our lives. This is why we need the Church and a strong community of faith to help us navigate this journey and encourage and strengthen us in our moments of doubt and weaknesses.
Believing in Jesus Christ, the Lord who rose from the dead and conquered death itself, is a never-ending journey of discovery. Yet it is a journey of faith that leads to an exciting, abundant, and fulfilling life. A life in Christ is never mundane and without purpose. Only in Jesus Christ do we discover the real meaning of life.
We can reflect on how this journey of faith may include moments of doubt especially today when we remember the Apostle Thomas. Sometimes Thomas is known as “Doubting Thomas” because of his initial uncertainty about the Resurrection of Jesus. We heard his story in today’s Gospel when Christ appeared to His disciples during the evening of the first day He resurrected. Thomas wasn’t there and when the other 10 disciples proclaimed, “We have seen the Lord." He bluntly stated, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe."
A week goes by and Thomas’ doubts did not go away. He didn’t see the Risen Christ and he doubted the resurrection. Yet, the following Sunday Jesus appears again and this time He meets Thomas along with the other ten. Then he directly speaks to Thomas, saying, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing." Thomas’ doubts are overcome as he proclaims, "My Lord and my God!" To which Jesus responded, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."
We know that Thomas went on to not only believe but to become a great apostle, traveling as far as India in proclaiming the Good News that Jesus rose from the dead. Everywhere he went he helped people come to believe in Jesus Christ and to discover the abundant, full and rich life of faith that leads to eternal life.
Thomas is a wonderful example of someone who had doubts and uncertainties, yet who stayed open to faith and came to believe and discover life.
We don’t need to shy away from whatever doubts and questions we may have. Yet, don’t dwell on your doubts but humbly seek after answers from the Risen Lord Jesus Christ and be open to come to discover what faith in Him truly means.
Let us believe in Jesus, truly come to know Christ risen from the dead, and then experience the abundant and full life in His name!
IN WHOM DO WE TRUST?
Our Orthodox Faith
Spirituality: The Meaning of Theosis As the Goal of Christian Life