On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 105: DO YOU BELIEVE?
“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11: 25-26 RSV)
It seems a simple question that Jesus asked of Martha. So I ask you the same question, "Do you believe?"
I ask this same question at the beginning of all my Bible study classes. It sounds like a trivial question to ask of Christians, but it is critical. Why ask the question? Because it stimulates the thinking process of most people who hear it; some become indignant that I would ask such a question of them.
I then ask if they believe that God created all things, that Mary - the Theotokos - is a virgin, Christ is God, and finally that the bread and wine used in communion are the body and blood of Christ. When they respond in the affirmative to these questions, I then ask, “Why do you then not do what Christ has asked you to do?”
Well, as you can imagine, the room is silent, and people begin to squirm when I look at them. How can you believe if you do not do? Is that not what the Pharisees did?
Well, in truth, many of the disciples did not believe! Think about it; they saw Christ raise Lazarus from the dead, heal lepers, and made the blind see. And yet when given the news of Christ's resurrection by Mary Magdaline we learn, “When they had heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.” (Mark 16: 11).
But, they came to believe and devoted the remainder of their lives to Christ, spreading the good news, giving of their time and talents by helping others.
Christ said to Thomas, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20: 29) Are we like Thomas?
Or do you show your belief by fulfilling God's commandments, by honoring Him with the first fruits of what HE has given you?
Make a promise to yourself that you will give back to God at a minimum ten percent of your free time to the church doing work in one of the ministries instead of sitting numbly in front of a television. Use the talents He gave you to help others find Orthodoxy, helping others to save their souls.
So you say, we have no ministries in the church; why not? I am sure they are there; you may not have been interested in knowing about them. Ask your priest; I am sure he can use your time and talent in the church and its ministries. Be generous with your time and talents, God gave them to you; they are not yours to keep but on loan from God. “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows abundantly will also reap abundantly. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9: 6-7 RSV).
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
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