Of the sons of Korach, psalm, song.
Yahweh loves His city
founded on the holy mountain;
He prefers the gates of Zion
to any town in Jacob.
He has glorious predictions to make of you,
city of God, selah.
‘I will add Egypt and Babylon
to the nations that acknowledge Me.
Of Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia,
“Here so and so was born,” men say,
but all call Zion “Mother,”
since all were born in her.’
It is He who makes her what she is,
He, the Most High, Yahweh;
and as He registers the peoples,
‘It was here,’ He writes,
‘that so and so was born,’ selah.
And there will be princes dancing there.
All find their home in you.
We know the Lord, we know whom we have believed in, we know what the essential content of the Christian faith is, the trust in God alone, the following Christ at all costs, the confession of a true word, and we know that somehow, we are the Church, we are in her, we are part of her, because we are in Christ, and we know each other when we meet, and if we have learned our lessons well, we come to our meetings with one another totally unarmed, totally disarmed if we ever bore weaponry against anyone but the devil, for whom hatred is reserved, if for anyone. Yet even the Lord, did He hate the evil one? It's hard to tell, because all He does is speak the word of truth to him. Isn't it the evil one, after all, who alone hates, hates God, hates Christ, hates woman for bearing Him, hates humanity for following Him, for trusting His word, for not listening to the lie?
Knowing what I know and having experienced everything from best to worst in the Orthodox Church, I still can swallow my neighbor along with his sins when I partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, just as the Lord has swallowed me and mine, and I can still defend him even when he makes himself my personal enemy. Why, and how? Because Christ defends me, even when I fall into sin, even when I cruelly wound Him, and there is no other path to life but through death on the Holy Cross, through letting one's flesh be nailed down for love of our neighbor, who is Christ.
The institutional Orthodox Church at best is the enduring ikon of the Bride of Christ, and at worst it is the stumblingblock that can snare a soul or put it into a tailspin from which it might never recover. But our God is merciful, He is loving, and I want to be near that kind of love, not just as it is sung about and proclaimed by words, but I want to be near it, where it is proved on the battlefield of the Body, where even wounded and wounding it heals by its faithfulness even amidst its sin. Faithfulness? What faithfulness? The faithfulness to stay through every conflict, through every victory, to stay the same, to be the deep well whose water may be hard to reach, but once brought up and drunk becomes that spring of living water inside us that leads to eternal life.
All Christians belong to this Church, yet our eyelids are stuck together and we, blinded by our own prejudices and fears, do not see light. The Orthodox who think of themselves as the sole possessors and owners of what can only belong to us all, only to us who are in Christ, just as blind as those who refuse to call her Home, those who hold her up to judgment—it doesn't matter by what standard. Mercy, mercy and love is how we express our discipleship and following of Christ, wherever we call 'home', and neither Christ nor His heavenly Father are fooled by what we call or do not call the Church. He (for they are One) knows.
I am a Greek Orthodox Christian, and I want everyone to know the Lord at least as intimately as I know Him, and receive at least as great a blessing as that which I receive within this ancient and venerable utterance of His Holy Church, but I know that all who confess Jesus Christ as Lord before men can expect no less salvation, whatever else they may believe in or about, than that which they receive from Him, who has created, called and saved them.Glory to Your forbearance, O Lord, glory to You!