ORTHODOXY – PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
FAITH GENERATES NECESSARY GOOD WORKS
When the Jews heard Christ command them not to work for the food that perishes but for the food that endures unto everlasting life, they asked him what they ought to do in order to do the work of God? Jesus told them: “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent.” He makes it clear that faith in Christ is the work of God leading to eternal life. But why does Christ refer to faith in Him as being work?
Our souls believe when we accept with certainty that what is being said is to be taken just as said. This certitude is what is called faith. However the soul does not act unthinkingly but goers through the process of work within itself, comparing, judging and reasoning. Thus believing is indeed work, not physical but mental work, where the soul distinguishes between truth and falsehood, always seeking and accepting truth. This work is most difficult and intense for the soul is drawn to the good teaching of Christ and is also drawn away by the evil and worldly enticements which surround it on all sides.
The souls of men continually seek happiness and reject sorrow and sadness whenever possible, for happiness is a continually desirous human goal for which men always reach but few find. Happiness can never be found in the pleasures or works of this world no matter how benevolent they may seem. Giving alms to the poor, feeding the hungry, showing kindness to strangers, are good works for which the world offers its thanks. But if they are done for worldly praise and self-aggrandizement they are without any value in Christ’s eyes. Because He is the source of everything good, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end of all things and is so preached. He saves those who know him and perform works in His name, and consigns to fire those who remain ignorant of Him.
Christ refers to faith as work which is easily grasped by the fact that His words are worthy of our belief and faith, while the opposite and contradictory words we ought to to reject as lacking any value. If we thrive on praise and our own glory the world may hand it to us in return for our work, but then we have received our reward and can expect nothing from Christ. It is what we do and say in the name of Christ that benefit our souls. So we are situated between truth and falsehood, being drawn back and forth by our thoughts. And this is the reason for the necessity of mental work in our souls. For the things that are going on in the soul, is a battle for our decision to follow Christ, and this is the most important thing our souls can decide.
St. Paul says that: “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” But faith in God, shown to be work, needs to have a beginning and end, and we are required to do this work thoroughly and completely, for it is written: “Accursed is whoever does the works of God negligently.” This is easier to understand if we look at the fundamental law of the Church: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” This fundamental law of the Church marks the beginning of our lifetime work, which is to recognize Jesus Christ as the Son of God and who is our Teacher and our Guide.
The end of faith is to listen to His words and keep them as our way of life. If we do not begin this work the end can never be reached, and it is far better not to begin or believe if we fail to reach the end hearkening to and keeping His commandments. That is why Christ says: "Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” and Not everyone that says to me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Also in the law of Moses this is written: “A prophet from among your brethren, like unto me, will the Lord God raise unto you; hearken to Him. And the man who shall not hearken to whatever the prophet shall say in my name (says the Lord) I will take vengeance upon him.” In the Gospel is written: “This my beloved Son; listen to Him.” So the work of Christ begins with hearkening to His voice and ends with listening and keeping His words. This work fulfills God’s perfect justice, being the standard and principle of correct volition and action, following His Logos or Word, and according to which God himself wills and acts.