Tuesday, August 28, 2012

When Loving God Causes Others to Think You’re Crazy

In this morning’s Gospel according to St. Mark we hear, “Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, ‘He is out of His mind.’” (Mark 3.20-21) This should be read in context with the next verse (to be read tomorrow) which says, “And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebub,’ and, ‘By the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.’” (Mark 3.22) Later we hear Jesus’ family had actually come to escort Him away from the growing crowds.

In the Light of God’s saving mercy and Love, even those close to Him did not always understand who He really was.  There will be times in your life, as there were in Jesus’ life, when your closest friend and confidant will wonder why you are “acting so religious” and insisting on talking about Jesus all the time or “always wanting to be in Church.” What will you say?

Even as a Priest I get this response from some of my friends. You might expect a Priest to always be talking about Jesus. Some even suggest to me, “Why don’t you get a hobby?” As if spending so much time with Jesus, talking about Him, praying to Him, or sometimes just being with Him in His Church, is somehow dangerous…

It might be considered dangerous for those whose guilt may run so deep that your devotion provides a witness to their lack of devotion. That’s just when it grows ever difficult to maintain friendships with non-believers. The closer you grow to Jesus Christ the less you have in common with non-believers. The really difficult part is when your friends (or family) ARE believers and still they accuse you of spending too much time being religious.

Let’s set the record straight….IT IS NEVER DANGEROUS TO SPEND TIME WITH GOD and it is IMPOSSIBLE to be too religious. So what will you say when your friends accuse you of being too religious? I have some suggestions…

1.       I’m not too religious; I just enjoy spending time with God.

2.       What does too religious mean?

3.       Are you jealous? (Use this one only if it’s a really close friend)

4.       Why do you care how I spend my personal time?

As for hobbies, I think they can be a very positive addition to life. I like to garden. I’m not that good, but I like to spend time in my garden planting seeds and nourishing the plants and, quite literally reaping what I sow. The truth is that many hobbies such as gardening ALLOW for prayer. I spend my time in prayer in the garden. That way I can spend time in prayer, get some fresh air, and get some physical exercise, all with the benefit of eating fresh chemical-free veggies from my back yard. Of course there are hobbies not so conducive to Christian living. Anything that takes us away from our constant consciousness of God’s presence should be avoided, but that is the subject for another day.

And just in case your family (and/or friends) come looking to take you away from another Church service, remember what Jesus said, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?...Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.’” (Mark 3.33-35)

1 comment:

Sabrina Messenger said...

Thank you so much, Father, for this post. It's a much needed one out there with so much antagonism against being committed to God and faith. Ever since becoming Orthodox last year, I've run across all manner of criticism and people claiming that I've gotten "too religious." One woman went so far as to say that I was turning to religion because I was afraid of life, afraid of sex and and afraid of success. I laughed at her. She just doesn't get it. So I'm to sell my birthright for a career, popularity and a man? Puh-leez...of all the shortsighted thing. How can one think that pyrite is beautiful once they've seen real gold, right? I'd much rather be at All Night Vigil on a Saturday night than some nightclub. Like it say in Psalms 84:10 " Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked."