Yesterday the Greek World celebrated OXI Day, the day which commemorates the courage of the Greek people against tyranny during World War II. It is a day which does not honor ‘greekness’ per se, but the willingness to stand up against those who would oppress others to make the world look like they desire, rather than how God desires. What does this have to do with our life in Christ? OXI is the Greek word for ‘No,’ and we would do well if we said ‘no’ to sin more often.
Brethren, let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear omen to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict which you saw and now hear to be mine. So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 1.27-30, 2-1.4
The Lord said, "He who is not with me is against me he who does not gather with me scatters. "When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first." – Luke 11.23-26
In our readings from the Holy Scriptures today, we are both encouraged and warned about sinful behaviors. St Paul, while using his own suffering as encouragement, call us to live a life ‘worthy of the Gospel’ while Christ directly warns us against the insistence of evil’s desire to destroy us. We are at war with the demons, my brothers and sisters. They will never stop trying to separate us from God and each other.
The unity that St Paul calls us to is more than ‘unity in name only.’ True unity comes when we are of one mind, something we pray for at each Divine Liturgy. Just think for a moment. When was the last time your community was of one mind, “worthy” of the Gospel? It is easy to be of one mind and live according to flesh, because the world will always reinforce its own. The demons don’t attack someone who is already a lost cause, deep in sin.
The real challenge is to be of one mind, in the Gospel, in Christ, committed to living a holy life. When the Greek people stood up against the Italians, it meant war, and they were willing to give their lives for freedom. We must be willing to give our lives for freedom from sin! It begins when we stand up and say, ‘No!’ to sin.