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Believing in One Lord Jesus Christ

August 25, 2013

I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, Begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, True God of True God, Begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made.

This article in the Creed introduces us to the most sacred mystery of heaven that would express itself as the most sorrowful mystery on earth, blending worlds once separate, then forever united. It begins with a historical figure, with a person of flesh and blood, with a person whose very name means salvation, with someone truly larger than life who contains all the mysteries of heaven and all the mysteries of earth. It all begins with “one Lord, Jesus Christ.” And suddenly, we find ourselves beyond time and before time, beyond creation and before creation. And in a dazzling radiance from the Light of Light, the only response that we children of dust can make is to bow down in worship before “the True God of True God, Begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made.”

Saint Justin Popovich notes, “the reality of all realities upon which the Person of Jesus of Nazareth is founded is His Divinity. Take God away from Jesus and he becomes the most tragic and pitiful of all creatures under the sun, then he would not even really be a being, for he would have been created to demonstrate an illusion. It is God that makes His Person incomparably real, incomparably lasting, incomparably eternal.” The Lord Christ’s divinity is the foundational truth that alone can answer a thousand questions about His actions, about His words, and about His life. How did He heal the lepers of their leprosy? How did He heal the centurian’s servant by a word? How could He forgive sins? How did He feed the five thousand? How did He walk on water? How did He raise the dead? How could He fulfill the law? How could He ask His disciples to love Him more than father, mother, wife, children and their own soul? How could He declare that all is possible for those who believe in Him? How could He say, “I and the Father are one”? How could He say of Himself, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”?  How could He say, “He who sees Me sees the Father, for I am in the Father and the Father in Me”? The answer to these questions and a thousand more is one: the Lord Jesus Christ is “the Son of God, the Only-begotten, Begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, True God of True God, Begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made.”  And suddenly, all things are filled with light, all things become clear. And the blind sons of Adam and sightless daughters of Eve begin at last to see, healed by Christ, like the blinded multitudes before them.

According to Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Jesus Christ is “Son of the Father, in all things like to Him who begat Him, eternal of an eternal Father, Life of Life begotten, and Light of Light, and Truth of Truth, and Wisdom of the Wise, and King of the King, and God of God, and Power of Power.” All that one ascribes to God the Father—Light, Life, Truth, Wisdom, Kingship, Divinity, and Dominion—are ascribable to Jesus of Nazareth. Later, Saint Cyril writes, “Christ then is the Only-begotten Son of God, and Maker of the world. For He was in the world, and the world was made by Him; and He came unto His own, as the Gospel teaches us. And not only of the things that are apparent, but also of the things that are not apparent, is Christ the Maker at the Father’s bidding. For in Him, according to the Apostle, were all things created that are in the heavens, and that are upon the earth, things visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things have been created by Him and for Him; and He is before all, and in Him all things consist. Even if you speak of the ages, of these also Jesus Christ is the Maker by the Father’s bidding. For in these last days God spake unto us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the ages.” The person history knows as Jesus of Nazareth, the Christian faith knows as the Creator of space and time, as “Light of Light, true God of true God.”

According to Saint Gregory the Theologian, the name of Christianity is so precious, precisely because Christ is God (Discourse 37:17, PG 36, 301c). In terms of core beliefs that shape the way a person reacts emotionally and behaviorally, what would it mean to believe with all one’s heart and all one’s soul that Jesus Christ is indeed “the Son of God, the Only-begotten, Begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, True God of True God, Begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made.” To believe that would electrify a vast network of connections in the believer’s mind related to everything Christ said, everything Christ did, as well as everything Christ was, is, and ever shall be. Being a Christian would mean looking at the world, looking at the self, and looking at the neighbor through the unique and brilliant light of Christ’s compassion, condescension, and love, knowing its absolute perfection because of His unquestionable divinity. This would mean striving to respond as Christ would and rejoicing with a heavenly joy every time by His grace we manage to do so. Walking the extra mile becomes participating in that Light of Light through which we truly see. And being called by Christ’s name would be honor beyond all created honor, bestowing not just human worth, but divine worth upon a vessel of clay. Believing this would orient the soul towards Christ as the ultimate source of direction for life, the ultimate meaning of one’s existence, and the ultimate goal for one’s time on this world that was created for us by the Son of God. Believing this would change everything.

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