Monday, March 14, 2016

Lights in the darkness

Brethren, salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light…
Romans 13:11-12

Without the slightest intention to malign the fathers, they all had faults, many of them the faults endemic to the age and the culture in which they lived. John Chrysostom, for example, by today's standards might be classified as anti-Semitic.

The Greek fathers who hashed through the doctrinal quagmires of the late Greco-Roman period, having to sort out dozens of heresy-laden, faith-diluting and soul-destroying ideas, also thrashed each other, sometimes mercilessly and were so focused on petty details, what I call 'nitpicking', that they forgot their first love, even while singing about it in the liturgy.

Their struggles were, I suppose (since God allowed them), necessary, and they certainly provided us with a very strong doctrinal base, and perhaps that was necessary while humanity was still at the childhood level. But childhood's end really has arrived if we want to exit it, our racial childhood I mean.

Ten centuries ago, Vladimir, prince of Kiev, gave this instruction to his childlike people: ‘Above all things, forget not the poor, but support them to the extent of your means. Give to the orphan, protect the widow, and permit the mighty to destroy no man. Take not the life of the just or the unjust, nor permit him to be killed. Destroy no Christian soul, even though he be guilty of murder.’

Are we there yet? The modern world culture pretends it is now where Christ, the first really modern, truly free man in all of history, wants it to be, that is, in terms of access to education, health, and so on: are we going to now really start building the Kingdom on earth, or using our freedom from want and fear for self-indulgence and backpedaling into darkness?

Post-Christians, some though calling themselves Christians, think that once Christianity has upgraded you to a modern, healthy human, you can discard it. But every man is a microcosm of the world culture he is part of, thinking itself the best ever, letting its guard down while not noticing its liberated behaviors are throwing it back into unhappiness and even savagery.

But those who know that what they have and are is by God's grace and that by His grace they endure, keep vigilant, live in the Word not in the world, and so remain lights in the darkness. Because for all its freedom and material achievements, the world is still a very dark place. And you can never outgrow your need for love. And it is only in love, that is, in Christ, that reality lives.

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