Monday, July 27, 2015

The Power of Love

When God asks us to do something, we often respond with
doubt because we’re not sure we have what it takes to get the job done. Just as
the Disciples believed they didn’t have enough food to feed five thousand
people with five loaves of bread and a couple fish, we question whether we have
enough to share with others. Our doubt isn’t limited to feeding the hungry; we
doubt whether we can afford to donate to the Church, or help the poor. We doubt
whether we have enough patience to show those fighting against us that we love
them. We even sometimes doubt whether we have enough love, to love. But when
the Disciples included God in the plan there was not only enough, but an
overabundance of leftovers. The power of love, when we love as God loves, and
when we allow the love of God into our hearts, will always provide enough for
us to share with others.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Difference between Tolerance and Endorsement in Politics

I often wonder why so many people advocate for the very behaviors they claim to oppose. This has become quite prevalent with the recent SCOTUS decision on marriage. For the hours that followed the ruling, all I could see were rainbows throughout the Internet. Most disappeared after a couple days, but I continue to be intrigued by the rainbow profile pictures that remain. And then it occurred to me.

In our contemporary society, we have lost not only the ability, but I believe the desire, to disagree with others publicly for fear that we may be “called out” on our own sins. So long as we share the common moral of a group, we don’t mind expressing our beliefs. But once our beliefs are in conflict, for fear of not being liked, we hide our beliefs under the cloak of fairness and tolerance. We “get on board” with political movements with phrases such as, “I don’t personally believe in gay marriage, but who am I to say it’s wrong for others?” There ceases to be a willingness to say, “I think it is wrong. PERIOD!” Unfortunately I believe, once we join the effort to support those with whom we disagree, we cross the line into endorsement, if even outwardly.

And that is where I am intrigued. How can you advocate for a behavior or belief which you do not accept? In case you were wondering......changing your Facebook profile to a rainbow IS a statement that you agree with same-sex marriage. If you don’t, then why publicly advocate? You may very well, as do I, believe that every human being has been granted free will by God to believe and act in any way, but there IS a difference between accepting free will and advocating for certain behaviors.

The issue of tolerance vs. endorsement isn’t limited to sexuality. It still is possible to say, “Same-sex marriage is wrong. You don’t have to agree with me, and you are free to do what you wish, but it is wrong.” It is just as easy to say, “Greed is wrong. You can chase the almighty dollar all you want, but it’s wrong.” Or you can say, “Lashing out against others in anger, and forcing them to do as you desire is wrong. You can be lash out all you want, but its wrong.” You can EVEN say, “I believe in One God, Father Almighty....etc. You may not, but I do.” See? It works with any belief or behavior.

If we are going to honor our faith in Jesus Christ, the time is past that we should stop advocating for sinful behaviors, and we should begin advocating for a life dedicated to living according to God’s desire for us.  In Orthodoxy, that means being dedicated to defeating our passions, not soothing them. It DOESN’T mean one sin is worse than another. It doesn’t mean we are without sin. It simply means that as Orthodox Christians, we tolerate other’s choices to sin, but we cannot endorse them. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Transform Your Fear into Wonder

All people, when they encounter God, respond to his acts of
love in different ways. Some are afraid to be seen by God, since they know
their sins deserve punishment. Others see God’s willingness to forgive with
wonder, and take the opportunity for repentance. Sometimes fear can paralyze us
into inaction, hiding ourselves from God in the hopes that He will not see us.
Adam and Eve tried that! Other times fear can keep us safe from the dangers of
the world like train tracks and hot stoves. But fear should never keep us from
opening our hearts to God, so that we can learn from His love, and repent. It
is only when we transform our fear into wonder that we can confess our sins in
the Mystery of Confession with open hearts, be forgiven by God, and grow closer
to Him.