People who have faith today know that they are frequently brushing up against others who don’t believe – this is most markedly true in cities. This can bring home to them that belief is a gift from God, and that they have been chosen by him. It may also lead them to evaluate its importance. But those who are wavering may wonder if they are carrying a burden, while others are freer! However, with calmer awareness the view can be arrived at that there is nothing in life as enriching as faith. As far as appearance goes in ordinary living there is little difference between those who believe and those who do not. Still, their behaviour at times may vary.
Christian believers are committed to Jesus Christ. They know that he is the eternal Son of God – existing from all eternity. He is divine, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, yet is distinct from them. He came on earth as a man to help humanity, by making everlasting salvation available for all. This is an incalculable benefit, most generously given to us. His message (which includes his words and deeds) show us the path to go to obtain the heavenly abode. His significance for us is summed up in his own words: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ (Jn 14. 6). The Christian is very dependent on Jesus.
Open to Christ’s Influence
Christians dedicate their lives to him in varying degrees. In all walks of life, a total surrender is called for, if in a different manner: ‘Whatever you do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus’ (Col 3.17). This suggests that they are to be ever inspired by him, strive always to please him and to make his name known. Believers need to cherish every word of his, allow it to sink in deeply and to let it become active or dynamic in their lives. It is the Son of God through his message who is the teacher and guide to the most upright way of life for all. In it his will is discovered by each one. Attention has to be given too to the path he calls the individual to pursue. The true believer is fully open to Christ and is directed in all by him.
St Paul, as an exemplary Christian, sees himself in the situation where Christ dominates his life. He has taken over: ‘I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Gal 2.19,20). Jesus is all for him: ‘For me living is Christ’ (Phil 1.21). He counts everything else as loss: ‘Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord’ (Ph 3.8). He views both life and death in the same perspective: ‘If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord’ (Rom 14.8).
The basic anchor to the Christian life is being in Christ. This means that the Spirit is active there too. ‘Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him’ (Rom 14.8). He knows that he himself is deeply connected with Jesus, when he gives the advice: ‘Continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith’ (Col 2.6,7). He asks all to be clothed with Jesus: `Put on the Lord Jesus Christ’ (Rm 13.14). Despite what seems, the Almighty shines through his life. The burden of suffering does not dim the inner reality: ‘For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be more visible in our mortal flesh’ (2 Cor 4.11).
Paul frequently writes about what Christian faith means and its significance for him. All the value that it brings has to be grasped by faith. This is a belief in what is unseen. It is based on an inner conviction and on hope: ‘Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen’ (Heb 11.1). ‘For we walk by faith and not by sight' (2 Cor 5.7). Faith is not visible, concrete knowledge, that can be tested in a sensitive way. Those who want to have scientific verification for what they hold as true are not satisfied with the knowledge that faith implies. In this regard, hearing or listening to the word of God is the main channel that opens out to belief. This becomes convincing from the inner light it brings. The Almighty impinges on us through the gift of faith. Belief then is a God-given inner vision, in what otherwise would be a world of darkness. What is believed in is not outwardly seen.