Saturday, March 31, 2012

The only possible future

Although as an ‘Orthodox Christian’ I am also a convert, I almost always trust the native Orthodox, experienced ones, that is, over any convert, when it comes to most things of the faith, but there are exceptions.

Those who have inherited their Orthodox faith more readily accept and go along with all kinds of customs which, if they only stopped and applied to them their knowledge of Christ and the gospels, they would easily see are quite worthless to achieving their stated aims.

The benefit of this ingrained attitude and these customary practices is not what one expects, but something unrelated. They keep the flock together and safe from the world. This was how it was done hundreds of years ago, and for hundreds of years.

What we Orthodox are slow to understand is, we now have bibles readily available, we are all able to read both the scriptures and the fathers, and all of us have been trained in critical thinking by our educational system. Thus equipped, we can better achieve the same goals of unity and safety by cultivating a serious devotion to the Word of God, and applying what we learn there to the making of disciples not only of ourselves, but of the whole world, beginning with those around us.

This is true whether we live in the old or the new Orthodox nations.

I have hope for Orthodoxy when those who espouse it really grasp that what it means is the following of Jesus Christ in everything, the remolding of our hearts and minds by the words of holy and divine scripture, the integration of our lifestyle with the Word of God, taking His exhortations literally and fulfilling them intentionally.

When we have this attitude, then everything done in the Orthodox Church falls into place. It becomes obvious what services, customs, traditions and practices are truly Orthodox and eternal, and which were only temporary fixes prescribed for conditions local as to time and place. When the brethren seek God’s Kingdom first and His righteousness, as Jesus Christ exhorts, then all these other things are given as well.

All what other things?
Everything that we really ought to have, everything and only everything that God Himself gives us, and not and never those things we have given ourselves, those that will pass away, for ‘Behold,’ Jesus Christ says, ‘I make all things new.’

Rather than appearing as a crusty, old and legalistic religion, Orthodoxy will emerge, will come out into the light, where it can be seen for what it really is, what it has always been in every age, the New and Everlasting Life that only Christ can bestow, the Victory in Him over every adversary, the Liberation of all mankind from every form of bondage, even unto sickness and death itself.

In every age and every place, people have lived and continue to live this life in Christ which we call ‘Orthodox,’ many without even realizing it because for them it is nameless, but when we meet them, we rejoice, and we recognize them, we recognize each other. This is the only possible future of Orthodoxy, for to have any other kind of future is to depart from Orthodoxy itself, to become a statue, to cease being an ikon, to affirm the ‘dead faith’ of the living, to deny the ‘living faith’ of the dead.

Who are these dead?
They are all who have gone through the Great Tribulation and washed white their robes in the Blood of the Lamb. They have followed, they are following, and they will yet follow the Lamb wherever He goes, Him who was, who is, and who is to come, the Pantokrator.

Why the image of the Last Judgment at the head of this testimony?
On this Day of His coming as Messiah Son of Joseph, the Suffering Servant, let us remember that the time that is granted us to follow His commandments is finite, and another Day, when He comes as Messiah son of David, the Anointed King and Judge, is indeed close. Let us prepare ourselves now, and willingly, in this world which is like a foyer leading into the world to come, that we may be welcomed into the Inner Chamber.

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