When I established Be Transfigured Ministries, I considered the many Orthodox Christians I had encountered over the years. Many were faithfully attending Church services, but their hearts were numb to the beauty of the Church. They had grown up obedient to their grandmothers, but never knew ‘why we do what we do’ as Orthodox Christians. Because of this their Christian life had been reduced to going through the motions.
Here at Be Transfigured Ministries, our slogan is “Live A New Life In Christ,” and it is intended to help you remember that God has given you another chance at life. In your baptism, or your Chrismation if you are a convert, you died to your former life and were reborn in Christ. This means you have the chance to leave behind all the baggage that has been weighing you down. Your sins, the small one and the not-so-small ones, hang around your neck like a heavy lead ball pulling your head to the focus on the ground rather than looking up to heaven. That was the condition of the Publican when we beat his breast in the Temple. (see Luke 18.9-14) The Scriptures are filled with examples of how God has given us another chance, many chances really, to live a new life in Christ.
Brethren, Christ died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2nd Corinthians 5.15-21
In today’s Epistle reading, Saint Paul reminds us that because of our Baptism and death to our former life, we no longer live for the past, but for Christ. This is what we refer to as the gift of salvation because Christ reconciled us to Himself without regard to our sins. As Orthodox Christians, we refer to that as “We were saved.” Our new lives, though gifts from God, require our participation for us to reconcile ourselves to God. The Orthodox Christian way of life, a life of prayer, fasting, taking care of the poor, worship and the sacramental life, are all given to us by the Holy Spirit and the Church to assist us in living united to God. As Orthodox Christians, we refer to that as “We are saved.” Finally, when Christ returns to judge us, our hearts will know whether we love Him or hate him. Our life on Earth, guided by the Church, is the time for us to ‘tune our hearts to God’ so that we truly love being reconciled to Him. We call that, “We are being saved.”
This is why Saint Paul is constantly urges us to live AS IF we are united to God, and experiencing a NEW life. This is why Be Transfigured Ministries is constantly urges us to Live A New Life In Christ, because the old life died in baptism. The old life was a life united to the flesh, but the new life in united to God. We are just a few days into the year. I invite you to make this the year you Live A New Life In Christ, and experience the joy of being united to God.
Be Transfigured Ministries will continue in our efforts to encourage you, to inspire you, and sometimes even to convict you. In the spirit of Saint Paul, we will not regard you from a human point of view, but from the point of view as those who working to reconcile ourselves to God.