I have spoken on several occasions about the inconsistencies faced by Orthodox Christians, given their theology. I have spoken much less about the inherent difficulties or problems with my own theological understanding. If, as I suggest, the truest mark of a Christ follower is adherence to the ethics of Jesus (Love you neighbor, even your enemies; overcome evil with good), then my own life fails to measure up to that standard. I claim to see the light, at least vaguely, but I display a marked reluctance to go where the light leads. My salvation may depend on my ability to love more and condemn less, but my mind struggles to act accordingly.
Faith in Jesus has been the cornerstone of the church's presentation of the Gospel for centuries. The mark of true faith has always been obedience to His commandments. Supposedly, paramount among those commandments were those which led to an escape from God's wrath.
I don't understand salvation as the traditional escape plan any longer, but I do believe that my salvation ultimately depends on my faith in Jesus, not as my substitute in divine punishment but as my example in abundant living, the true result of salvation. Logically, salvation of this type is a never ending process. It involves a struggle just like I am experiencing now. I hear Jesus. I want to believe Him. I see how the old paradigm of condemnation and retribution has failed to bring joy, peace, and security; but my old mindset has me clinging to the past. Like the frantic father in Mark 9:24, I want to cry out- Lord, help my unbelief.
Probably, the first thing I need to realize about my failure is that I needn't feel guilty and worthy of condemnation and punishment because of it. We don't feel guilty about violating the law of gravity and falling down. Instead, we learn from falling and thereby avoid further injury. I suspect that my failing to love like Jesus hurts me more than anyone else.
Secondly, perhaps, I can take comfort in that I do struggle with the right way to respond to various life situations in accordance with what Jesus taught and represented. I could be locked in the sure knowledge that what I have done in the past is perfectly correct and needs no re-evaluation. In other words an over confidence in my own rightness could be blinding me to a better way. If Jesus was serious about his ethical pronouncements, then my past is not the proper measure of Christ-likeness. Just knowing that is a serious first step toward real faith. I certainly hope that is the case.