October 6, 2021

On Those Who Say "I Believe, Therefore I Am Not Afraid"

By Archimandrite Vasilios Bakoyiannis

Many say: "I believe in Christ, therefore I am not afraid of the coronavirus, that is why I do not wear a mask in the church." So those who support the opposite, are they unbelievers? Perhaps they are more faithful! Who knows?

The proclamation, "I believe, therefore I am not afraid," can hide pride, and (it can) be a sign of an unhealthy spirituality. The strange thing is that this ("I believe, therefore I am not afraid") can also be heard from a Christian, who lives in sin, with extramarital "relationships". In fact, he accuses to be an unbeliever (!) the Priest (!) of his parish, because the Priest observes the guidance of the government relevant to the coronavirus!

Does a Christian really have such faith, where he does not fear? His sin has already killed his faith. And yet he declares that "I believe, therefore I am not afraid"! If during the Divine Liturgy there is a strong earthquake, even a magnitude 5 or 6 on the Richter scale, how will he react? Will he remain calm, or will he panic, and where will he go?!

"A believer is not one who thinks that God can do everything, but one who believes that he will obtain all things" (Saint John Climacus, Ladder, Step 27:66). However, in order to have such a faith, our life must have the Kingdom of God as its center, we must seek it, and not earthly things, money, glory, pleasures and the like. Who really desires the Kingdom of God? Who? What is suitable to us is: "I believe, Lord; help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24).

We must admit, we believe in Christ with our lips (Matt. 15:8), because our hearts are given to other things (Matt. 6:21). "I have faith in God," someone would say to his Priest again and again. "Tell me how many properties and how many accounts do you have, then I will tell you if you believe in God," the Priest replied.

"Faith without works is dead" (James 2:20). The works that enliven our faith are the commandments of the Lord, such as prayer for our enemy, forgiveness, love, charity for our enemy (Luke 6:27). On the contrary, the transgression of His commandments leads to the death of our faith. And we do nothing but transgress His commands, either by criticizing our brother, or by despising him, or this or that!

Let us not, therefore, put an exclamation mark on our faith, and let us not pretend to be the defenders of the faith, (word to the wise), lest we confuse faith with fanaticism.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.