Christian healing

Healing happens! I wanted a place to share the sweet stories of God's grace and power that people send to me. Lift up your heart with joy to the Lord! Rejoice, be glad, and praise God's wonderful works to the children of men.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Eternal Life: Through Faith or Love?

Originally published March 24, 2005 in The Geauga Maple Leaf, Chardon, Ohio


In the time of Jesus’ ministry he was asked an important question. “What do I have to do to inherit eternal life.” Jesus gave a very simple and clear answer: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” No jumping through hoops, no odysseys to undertake, no mysticism or magic. Just live the life of love. This is why the defining quality of a Christian is love. Now, some will say it is faith, but Paul set aside that notion in his first letter to the Corinthians. He wrote: “Faith, hope, charity (love), these three. But the greatest of these is charity” (love). Jesus told his disciples, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love, then, is the underlying Principle of Jesus’ teachings and therefore, of Christianity.

St. John spoke directly about the need for love in mankind. “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.... If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.... God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.... We love because he first loved us.” (NIV, I John 4)

Well, then, where does the significance of faith come in? Didn’t Jesus tell many of those he healed that it was their faith that had truly brought it about? Furthermore, he admonished his disciples for their fear when the storm arose on the Sea of Galilee. “Where is your faith?” Did they not trust their divine Father’s protection? We have to start somewhere. Is not trust our starting point,--trust in the all-power of the All-mighty?

Mary Baker Eddy, in her enlightening book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures addresses this issue: “In Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and English, faith and the words corresponding thereto have these two definitions, trustfulness and trustworthiness. One kind of faith trusts one's welfare to others. Another kind of faith understands divine Love and how to work out one's ‘own salvation, with fear and trembling.’ ’Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief!’ expresses the helplessness of a blind faith; whereas the injunction, "Believe . . . and thou shall be saved!" demands self-reliant trustworthiness which includes spiritual understanding and confides all to God…. (p 15) Trustworthiness is the foundation of enlightened faith. Without a fitness for holiness, we cannot receive holiness.” (p 23)

So, in fact, both faith and love are necessary. And, both are indications of a true Christian. Both are qualities which make great demands upon the believer. Paul told his Galatian students “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” And, further, he said that as we “live in the Spirit, we should also walk in the Spirit,” He went on to identify the qualities of the Spirit we must walk with. First, in that list, is love, and faith is there, as well as joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, and temperance. Practicing these qualities we will each be law-abiding and worth of the Kingdom of Heaven and everlasting life.

- Toni Alexander