Choose to fight on God’s Side As the Gospel teaches us, just moments after Christ was born, the world turned against Him. King Herod killed thousands of innocent children in his attempt to kill Christ. Throughout history the world and the Devil has been at war with God, and we are caught in the middle. Although, living in America we do not fully understand what it means to live in persecution, hearing the Gospel stories of persecution and watching the nightly news coverage of persecuted Christians gives us a glimpse of what it means to fight on the side of God in this war.
On the Sunday before Christmas, the Church reminds us of the earthly ancestors of Christ going back to Abraham. This long list of names is not for lack of purpose. In this ancient custom of recalling our ancestors, we recall both those who have been faithful and those who have not been so faithful. This annual custom of the Church of recalling the ancestors of Christ reminds us how much God loves us. From the very beginning of creation, God has always had a relationship with humanity as His People.
In the Parable of the Great Banquet, we learn that God’s invitation for us to join Him around His Table, is dependent upon our free will. As the story goes, after those who made excuses to be excused from the banquet, the Master found others to attend in their place. They were not begged by the Master to reconsider, nor will we be begged by God to reconsider when we use our free will to reject God’s invitation to join Him around His Table in Church. God will not force us to join Him, but He will find others to fill His Church and He will find others to fill our spot in heaven.
Around this time of year, I get many requests from faithful Orthodox Christians, those who may not be in Church often, but recognize that something is special about this time of year, for some sort of “something” they can do special to prepare for Christmas. Often this is in response to their coming into contact with a western advent calendar, or a variety of Christian holiday countdown activities. The same, of course, is true during Great Lent, but for some reason I tend to get extra frustrated this time of year.
One of the most misused verses (there are many) is, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18.27) Too often Christians use this verse to defend their own agenda claiming that as Christians, “All things are possible with God,” but that is not the correct context of this verse. The question Christ was answering was, “Who then can be saved?” (Luke 18.26) It is impossible for us to save ourselves. We need God. We can’t do it alone!