|The Importance of Living the FaithChrist spent much of His ministry teaching. Yet, His teaching meant little unless it was applied in practice by His listeners. In the Sermon on the Mount, for instance, the Matthean account says of “the least of these commandments,” that whoever “does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”Similarly, the concluding words of the Sermon stress the “doing” of His teaching. Christ explains that the putting of the words into practice determines how solid the foundation is : “Everyone, then, who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon a rock…And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand.”This point is likewise stressed by the Apostle Paul when he addresses the Colossians. He extorts that disciples of Christ should “put to death” in practice things such as “immortality, impurity, passion, evil desire…covetousness…anger, wrath, malice, slander, foul talk, and lies.” Simply, “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.”The patristic tradition is no less concerned with the praxis of the Orthodox faith. Numerous fathers of the Church subscribe to the belief that deeds are what make the Word true. Moreover, they reflect the true faith and lead one to the knowledge of God.
To conclude, the faith we have discussed over the past number of weeks means little unless it is applied to each of our lives. Yet the practice means little unless it is rooted and guided by the theory of the faith. “For it is necessary that practice be informed, and for the thoria to be put into practice so that in the one, evil will be found without influence and in the other virtue be powerful in the completion and fulfillment of goodness (Elias the Presbyter).
Putting the Faith into Action
The following are sample subjects/issues that confront Orthodox Christians each and every day. Within Orthodoxy there are not simply “right” answers. There exist however guiding principles and ideals that lead us towards the Kingdom of Heaven. The challenge lies in approaching each subject/issue within the framework of the Orthodox Church, not simply in discussion but in practice, outside the class.
- Fundamental Virtues (Obedience, Penitence, Remembrance of Death, Sorrow)
- Struggle Against Non Physical Passions (Anger, Malice, Slander, Talkativeness, Falsehood, Despondency)
- Struggle Against Physical & Material Passions (Gluttony, Lust, Avarice)
- Higher Virtues of Life (Simplicity, Humility, Discernment)
- Union with God (Stillness, Prayer, Dispassion, Love)
- Understanding Other Christian Traditions
- Answering the Question : “Are you saved?”
- Spiritual Exercise
|“Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things…What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do”
|– (St. Paul)