What’s your spiritual credit score?

Homily 530 – 32 APE
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
January 22, 2023
Epistle:  (280-ctr) 1 Timothy 1:15-17
Gospel:  (93) Luke 18:35-43

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, One God.

Healing is a major part of the New Testament.  We hear frequent accounts of physical healing, even those being raised from the dead.  Today, the blind man receives his sight at the command of Jesus.

There is a subtle subtext to all of this, though.  Most all of the accounts involve faith.  Jesus says, “Your faith has healed you.”

Now, if you are like me and grew up outside the Orthodox Church, maybe we share a warped understanding of faith.  In my experience outside the Church, faith was the mental assent to a set of facts that couldn’t be proven externally.

But that somehow doesn’t seem to be what Jesus is referring to here.  Anytime we have this scenario, where a word doesn’t seem to mean what the current modern connotation of the word would have it mean, it is helpful to do a bit of digging to better understand the word.

In this instance the Greek word translated as “faith” is “πίστις” – pees-tis.  And, looking at Strong’s Concordance of Biblical Greek the translation is indeed, “Faith, or faithfulness”.

But venturing out into the more “secular” tools of the ancient Greek language, we see the most common theme as “trust or confidence.”  There is a source that I looked at that compared it to the Latin word “fiducia” or “fides” – and that leads us to the modern word “fiduciary”.

One might say, I have credit for so much money with Him.  Credit is pistis.

Now, where would the blind beggar, encountering Christ, believe that he had credit with Christ?  That is to say, credit with God?  How does one get credit with God?

And more than that, how does one draw on that credit?

It seems like what we are speaking about when Jesus speaks of faith is some kind of spiritual credit score.

If we have enough credit, we obtain healing.  Now this sounds very, very suspicious.  It sounds like doing something to earn our healing.  But that is man’s economy, not God’s.  God’s bank doesn’t operate like that.

God’s bank operates through grace, not acts.  And yet, at the same time as we receive grace, our acts, our behavior, should reflect that grace – that credit that we have.

When grace is deposited to our account, the amount deposited is not like an earthly bank.  What God deposits to us is limitless – it is, that which is sufficient for our healing and unification with God, as it was before the fall.

Now, understand, I realize that I’m treading on some iffy theological territory here.  What I’m describing should be a way of thinking about faith, and not doctrine, and certainly not dogma.  We are trying to understand what Jesus meant when He uses the word “faith”.  And, we are trying to understand how the blind beggar understood it.

When God deposits grace to us, to our spiritual account, if you will, what we do with that grace is important.  We can allow it to sit.  That does no good to no one.  Or, we can appropriate it.

That, is faith.  That is confidence – we are as it were, writing a check against God’s grace.  And the result of the application of Grace, for all of us, is healing.  It is salvation.

Salvation isn’t a get out of jail – salvation is complete healing of us by God.

Our question – the question of faith – has to do with our understanding and trust and confidence toward God regarding that healing.

Consider, do we believe we need healing?  Many of us do not.  Or, maybe better said, many of us believe we need healing but only in certain aspects of our physical existence.

In fact all of our being requires healing, because all of our being is fallen, in need of restoration and reconciliation to the source of Life.

What God asks of us, though, is to extend our trust not to one aspect of our lives – not to only our blindness, for example – but to all of our life.  Every aspect.

The blind beggar did indeed had his sight restored – but then left his life and followed Christ.  Not just with sight, but with his entire being.

We also have to consider if we believe God first of all can, and second of all will, heal us.  The first one for most of us is pretty easy – of course God can heal.

But does He want to?  Will He heal us?  After all, we know how we disappoint God, and we know how much we don’t want to do anything for people that disappoint us.

But brothers and sisters, don’t discount God’s love.  Don’t discount God’s love.  That is, His love for us.  For you – and for me.

The Scriptures tell us point blank – while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  God knows.  He knows our unfaithfulness to Him, He knows how self-absorbed we are.  And He loves us.  More that we are capable of knowing how to love.

So, let’s circle back.  How do we raise our spiritual credit score?

We trust God for everything.  We deny ourselves – that is our ego, our pride.  Share and give with abandon, knowing that God will care for our needs.

It is a process to be sure.  A process that is helped by following the discipline of the Church – fasting, giving, praying.  A process that intensifies with the upcoming season of Great Lent.  Next Sunday, beloved, is Zacchaeus Sunday, by the way.  It comes on quickly!

But the more you give yourself over to God – meaning, the less you hold back for yourself – the higher your spiritual credit score grows.  Until, you’ve given everything.

And having given everything that you are to God, offering Him His own of His own, He returns Himself to us – which is our healing, and our salvation.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, One God.