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Archive for January, 2005

To what end?

On the Orthodox Women’s list, someone brought up the concept that blogging might actually be a form of “giving one’s opinion”, of “speaking unnecessarily”. I’m rolling that concept around in my mind, along with the question of whether or not the world honestly needs my thoughts to be committed to bytes.

Honestly, I have to say, it probably doesn’t “need” it. But in a larger sense, I need it. I’m not here to give political commentary, and by no means should my words be construed as having any intrinsic value. No, I’m just here to share with whomever passes by what I’ve learned, how I have failed (wherein I do most of my learning) and what I hope for the future.

Having said all that…

Today, I’m thinking about the brevity of life. How quickly this existence can pass and eternity come up to slap us in the spiritual face!

Why? Oh, I’m completely morbid when it comes to how often I think about death. No, not in the Emily Dickenson sense, dwelling on the concept until it permeates my entire thought process, but I do manage to have the idea flit across my mind numerous times during the week. My priest tells me that it’s not necessarily a bad thing to be reminded of death; that it keeps us on our spiritual toes; we simply can’t live in fear of it to the point where we are prevented from living.

In my former life as an evangelical Christian, I can recall how much of what I did from day to day (or didn’t do, as the case may be) was motivated much more by a fear of Hell than an understanding of the Kingdom of Heaven. Not to say Hell isn’t important to Orthodoxy, far from it. But I can recall many a sermon where the concept of salvation was presented more as a salvation from hell, than a restoration of our relationship to God. Altar call after altar call focused on escape. No one wants to go to hell…at least no one I know. But how many of us truly want to experience the fullness of what it means to be a Christian?

Before we go raising our hands and waving enthusiastically, let’s stop and “count the cost”. Are we ready to deny ourselves? Are we ready to lose the affection of some family or friends if necessary? Can we stand the scrutiny of a world that actively works against the cause of Christ? Could we follow in martyrdom if it was asked of us? Are we ready to endure all the trials that are certain to those who take up their cross and follow Christ?

I recall, nearly twenty years ago, reading an article in Discipleship Magazine, a heavily reform-influenced evangelical publication, that dealt with this topic–and it had a strong part to play in my spiritual journey. Now, there’s not a lot of stuff that I carry over from those days, but this was one of those nuggets of truth one unearths from time to time from the oddest of places.

The article spoke of how seldom we truly act on what we say we believe. If we did, would we accept such a poor level of holiness from ourselves? No. We’d be constantly driven to rid ourselves of sin “which so easily besets us”. If I call myself a Christian, yet do not deny myself so that my brother who is in need is fed and clothed, am I not foremost a liar? If I say that I wish to follow Christ, but cannot stand at confession, how will I ever manage to stand before the Judgment Seat, when all is laid bare?

Thankful am I that the Holy Angels and all the Saints support us, but they can take us only so far without a willing spirit, and even that we must pray for the Holy Spirit to renew. We must take an active part in preparing ourselves to run the race. We must run, and stumbling, pick ourselves up again. We have the resources of the Church and the Kingdom of Heaven upon which to call, but we must remember this is not a cake walk. We are working out our salvation and must be about that exercise each and every day.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, a renew a right spirit within me!

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