What does it mean to believe in God and to be Christians? I believe many people do believe in the existence of divinity, or at least reluctantly believe “just in case” something happens. Yet, there are many definitions of what it means to believe and I think it is proper and important what we take a small moment to understand what it means to truly believe as Christians.
To believe, in its most basic and foundational definition, is to give a personal affirmation or ascension to a set of principles or ways of life. It is the beginning of a personal set of choices to adhere to something that is beyond one’s self and passionate about. People believe in different things, adhere to different sets of beliefs or principles, yet there is something really different regarding how we, as Christians, really believe! First, we do not believe or do something to get something back in return. Often times, faith becomes something transactional and cosmic-like for the post-modern world. People tend to do good things and have good thoughts so they will have good “karma” or at least wishing that this vague, omnibus cosmic sense of fate will not bite them in the rear. It is basically a self-motivated banking system where one hopes to outdo the bad cosmic energies or retributions by building up for themselves good matters. However, as Christians, we are called to do good for goodness’ sake, not because we can get something back in return. Our desire to do good and live a moral life is not to get something back in return but the desire to unite, imitate, and transform our lives to be like the One who creates us. The Christian journey is a personal and intimate (re)discovery of who we are deep from within, what we are meant to be, and what God wants of us as He originally intended when He created us. It is the recognition of what the Almighty wills for us since the beginning of time, beyond our self-centered brokenness, sins, and failures. It is an embrace of who we truly are beyond self-pretension, self-willed glories, shallow pleasures, temporary and momentary happiness, and empty satisfaction.
Unlike many pseudo-spiritual and New Age beliefs, our true purpose is not to be the best version of what we desire or wanting to be! Too many times, we have made God into an unconditional cheerleader and blind supporter of what we want, providing ways, making things possible, and granting us favors so we can live the best version of our self-created happiness. Too many times, we have a warped concept of “enlightenment” as something self-serving, creating and seeking what is good for us by our own efforts. This type of thinking is a very cynical, utilitarian, and hedonistic type of life, even if it looks stoic at times because it is still self-centered in its motive and desire. Our true Christian faith forms us into an authentic, self-giving, sacrificial, personal and intimate way of life where we embrace and take on the mission of Christ Jesus as His disciples. It is much more than receiving or banking on something to get what we ultimately want in return!
Real faith is grounded from the desire to embrace the life of the Lord and makes it our own, including the trials and sufferings for the sake of righteousness and truth. It is a real love of our very self, created in the image and likeness of God, as we truly are instead of what we should or want to be! However, to become Christ-like in our words and actions are not easy because it is beyond what we want or think that we want because it requires a genuine and transparent relationship with the Almighty. Contrary to what many think, it is extremely hard for many of us to truly love ourselves as we are in Christ instead of what we think or want to be ourselves. As a matter of fact, many of us do not like to see our true selves because we think that we are not lovable. We tend to think that we need all the other (secondary) things to be loved! Without a doubt, to be loved by God and allowing ourselves to accept and live in that love is the result of true grace-filled faith, the ultimate gift for those who believe.
If we cannot love and see ourselves as we are, we will waste our days trying to be someone that we are not. Nevertheless, if we know ourselves in our totally, being genuine and transparent, as well as vulnerable, before God and those who we trust to guide us, we can and are able to live in peace and joy. True peace and joy are grounded in our personal sense of belonging and being loved by Him. It is an intimate knowledge of who we are and who we belong to so that we become personally content and at peace with the love that He has for us. Even when there are trials and sufferings and we are shaken on the psychological or emotional level, we know deep within our heart of heart that God is with us and that we are loved by Him. The imperfections of this world, even when they are hurtful, will not take our joy away if we know who we are and why we believe. When we have our foundation right, we will then able to love, seek, and discern His will for us in our daily journey.
This is, then, very important to remember… To believe is to seek and live the will of God has for us in our daily interactions! If we do not know who we are and who we belong to, we will never spend the time to seek what is right, beautiful, and true. If we do not know the love of God and have a personal relationship with Him, we will have no desire to seek His will and live what He wills for us — now and eternity. If we do not know who love us, we can never be genuine, transparent, and vulnerable enough to care, love, and give ourselves totally and completely to other people along the journey. Therefore, it is important to then know why we believe and who is our source of eternal joy and peace. To believe is then to personally will to trade everything else for the one that is truly important for us! It takes a lot of courage, perseverance, and tenacity for the true life of faith because we continually have to choose and will what is good, not just for ourselves and our own good, but for all in our daily interactions.
Life is not easy nor are human beings perfect. Even in our best intentions, we can still easily hurt one another. If there is no right or wrong — no morality — or the desire to will the true good of the other person and greater good of all, we would become divisive and destructive because everyone would only worry their own personal goods or self-centered interests. Yet, to be a saint is to be Christ-like, to do what is right and to choose what is right, even if that means to be sacrificial and willing to be hurt by others at times. Much more a simple intellectual affirmation and ascension, true faith embraces the willingness to be like Christ as His disciples in everything, even if it means to suffer out of love and for love. It grounds the person in real, concrete examples of what the Lord and His saints had done and went through as we personalize and make their life-giving and sacrificial examples our own. It makes us fix our eyes on Christ Jesus, just like the Blessed Mother and multitude of righteous men and women, who went ahead of us as to love like He did. Faith is not to exist to be a quick solution or an easy answer to life’s questions and trials. It gives us the tenacity to persevere, be joyful and at peace at all times, in knowing that we are given what is precious to the Savior when we choose to be His disciples — His own Way of the Cross and Paschal Mystery. To believe is to make personal the mission of the Savior and Master our own and to bear all things out of love and for love. Even though we are weak and will be afraid at times, let us not lose hope but choose to believe and love as He did.
May the loving peace and joy of the Lord be with you.