Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Christian Should be Sober Minded

Yesterday I was listening to the radio and heard a comment about how many times a child smiles per day as compared to how often adults smile. The numbers were drastically different which came as no surprise, but I was struck by the “compelling need” some adults feel to always be smiling. It seemed as if I was being told, “If you don’t smile, then you are an unhappy person,” or worse, “I must somehow be less loving because I don’t smile as much as a child smiles.”

I understand that children are laughing and playing much more than adults, but I’m not sure that is a bad thing. It isn’t that I think adults should be happy, but is “being happy and smiling” the sign of a healthy adult perspective? Consider today’s Epistle Reading:
St. Peter's First Universal Letter 5:6-14 (RSV) - BRETHREN, humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, first in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish and strengthen you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. By Silvanos, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God; stand fast in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you that are in Christ.
St Peter is challenging us today to be “sober” and “watchful” in the face of suffering and temptations from the devil. As adults we understand the real struggle of life which explains our less frequent smiles than little children, but the lack of a smile is not the same thing as being despondent. Being sober minded is about vigilance and readiness to fight the temptations thrown at us by the devil. A child seemingly never-ending laugh is more about innocence than joy.

There is a difference between having joy and always smiling, just as there is a difference between sober minded and depressed. A Christian is to be filled with joy that Christ is Risen as we are still celebrating Pascha, and sober minded that even though Christ is Risen, the devil lurks behind every corner waiting to devour us.

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