“I believe in Jesus Christ.” This pivotal phrase, the nucleus on which the Nicaean Creed and all Christian doctrine and faith depends is so easily glossed over. But when we affirm, “I believe,” what is it that confirms that faith? Confirmation of that belief does not come from any of the Councils of the Church, or from our parents, or trusted religious leaders. Belief in Jesus Christ is confirmed by the powerful reality of Presence.
We know it in our inmost being – because we were made to know it. But what do we affirm when we say, “I believe in Jesus Christ?” Not just that, sure, Jesus lived 2 millennia ago, and, yeah, he was a really good man who said important things. But to say, “I believe in…
Jesus Christ, this Christ bit is super important. It means: Redeemer, Messiah, Anointed – ordained, set apart, Holy.
Today is Christ the King Sunday – it recognizes the “reign of Christ.” So, this Christ is also a king, and this king reigns for those who believe. To reign suggests governing, but it also indicates presence – just being there and knowing what is going on, knowing those whom one oversees.
Joan Chittister puts it beautifully:
I believe in the Jesus who looked at a person who had been crippled, misjudged, and oppressed for thirty-eight years, ignored on the Hillside of the Healing Pool for thirty-eight years, called to fullness of life and denied it for thirty-eight years—all in the name of the Law—and, Sabbath or no Sabbath, [this Jesus] cured him. In that moment, law did not become lawlessness. In that moment, love gave law a new criterion.
Truly this one is of God. Through the humanity of Jesus shines the Divine. In Jesus, the Way becomes both clear and possible, plain and imperative [necessary – now]. We see in Jesus the mind of God. We also see that this great presence was a human presence. It is, therefore, a presence possible to us as well. More than that, it is a presence expected of us. Therein lies the difficulty.Joan Chittister, In Search of Belief, 66-67.
Because how can we affirm that we believe in this divine presence, the mind of God in Jesus and so in us, and believe Jesus is the Christ – redeemer, anointed – but look to other things, people to save us from our daily discomfort, grief; or help us achieve our ambitions?