Thursday, July 2, 2015

Why Bother?

If you have been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you know that my goal is for us to LIVE the Orthodox Christian life rather than just use the label on hospital records. With last week’s SCOTUS decision to extend legal status of same-sex marriage, it occurred to me ask a simple question of my readers....
Why bother being Orthodox?
I mean, really, if the moral teachings of the Church are not considered formative for our life in Christ, then why bother calling ourselves Orthodox Christian? I’m not talking about rights here, but conscience. Why do you (if you do) insist on considering yourself Orthodox Christian if you casually refuse to accept her moral teachings? Granted, the Divine Liturgy is AMAZING, if it is well performed, but from most of the Churches I’ve witnessed over the years, it CAN’T be the awesome performances. I’ve found much better choirs in the Baptist and AME Churches. It can’t be the kneeling for an hour on Pentecost. There IS the food....the food is delicious, no matter what ethnic Church you enter, but you can always visit the local Church festival to take some home for later. So why bother?
If there is no commitment to following the Orthodox Way of Life, which is an admitted struggle against the passions...ALL THE PASSIONS... then why not just become a member of one of other 42,999 Christian denominations? 21st Christianity has become a “have it your way” religion, and many in the Orthodox Church have embraced this mentality under the guise of freedom. But freedom comes with consequences.
The truth of the matter is this; Orthodox Christianity is the Way of Life established by Christ and His Disciples IN ORDER to assist us in defeating the passions which separate us from God. As Saint Paul said,
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7.15-25)
If we are not committed to defeating the passions, and therefore defeating sin, then why subject ourselves to all the rigor of the Orthodox Christian Way of Life? It becomes a meaningless exercise. If, on the other hand, we desire to grow ever closer to God, then we will embrace the moral teachings and way of life of the Church, as weapons of war.
Ultimately it boils down to the ever-present ego, a battle that humanity has been fighting since the first day in the Garden. We tend to want things OUR way, rather than God’s, and anything (including the Church) that stands in our way of self-indulgence, we will readily reject. Here is a reminder...
Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3.4-6)
Sounds like a good reason to bother....if you ask me.

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