Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Plunge

My Protestant Christian background has taught me many great things: Saturate your mind with God’s Word, love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, renew your mind, walk in the Spirit, depend on God’s grace, set your mind on things above, walk by faith and not by sight, and the list goes on and on.

When I explored and read about Orthodoxy, I discovered they live out these axioms to the fullest.

Take for instance, “Saturate your mind with God’s Word.” We know that Jesus was God’s Word, and that this Word was made flesh. The Scriptures are a testimony of this “Word” that has existed from all eternity. He is the Great “I Am”. He is both God and man, and the Light of the world which “enlightens every man”. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

The pattern of Eastern Orthodox worship is based on the Temple and on the book of Revelation so that you, by faith, are dwelling in the heavenly temple, in the heavenly kingdom just as Abraham dwelt by faith in the promised land.

They saturate their life and worship with faith in the kingdom as affecting us in the physical world even now. All things flow from an internal conviction that they are worshipping with the angels and Saints; that the bread and wine are truly the body and blood of Christ – even as Jesus said they are.

Now, more than ever, I am convinced the Eastern Orthodox Church is the embodiment of the fullness of the faith. As a result, I have gone from seeker to catechumen as of January of this year, and from catechumen to Orthodox Christian as of last weekend. There were no sparks or fireworks, but there was joy, deep joy and profound peace, that I have found home.

Because of this, God has heightened my sensibilities to my shortcomings and sins, and I feel ever more grateful of His mercy, love and grace to sustain me by His power to live a life pleasing to Him.

Lord have mercy (40x).

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More Thoughts On Living By Faith

Hebrews is one of my favorite books. It has almost as much imagery as the book of Revelation. It says in Hebrews 11:1-2 -

1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of
what we do not see.
2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
And, if you continue reading you come to this passage in verses 8-10:

8 By faith Abraham,when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.
10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations,whose architect and builder is God.
Compare that with the way the Orthodox view reality - quoting from Metropolitan Anthony Bloom out of a book called "Courage to Pray" he says (and I would recommend pondering his sentences as they are packed with a lot of theology):

The dimension of the church which makes it essentially different from the world is the eschatological dimension. It already belongs to the age to come. That is why the Spirit of God is present in the church's life...the kingdom is already present in which all will be is because the church knows things not only in their present sadness but in their final fulfillment that it can give thanks from this sad and often bestial world for all things. She gives thanks for their ultimate fulfillment, not for their present state which would be unforgivable by the world and by God. We should be able to turn to the Lord from our own experience and say, 'Lord you are just in all your doings, you are right'. And the church can only do this because of her vision of the end. She sees not only the world darkened by sin but the world transfigured, in which the resurrection and eternal life are already present. And that is why the church makes no distinction between the living and the dead. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. For Him, all men are alive, and so they are for the church.

Now, I said all of that to show that, like the quote in Hebrews, the church takes a perspective of faith in regards to God's reality, just as Abraham did - quoting Romans 4:16-17 -

16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring–not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.
17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed–the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
These verses amplify the same perspective as the historic church - calling things that are not as though they were, being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see - God's kingdom already present on the earth by faith.