Friday, August 21, 2015

Part Six

Living The Orthodox Christian Life

     The everyday lives of all men are basically the same, working, feeding and maintaining the human body. Food is usually acquired by farming or working and purchasing.  If we are healthy we do not forget to eat for it is well known that you must eat in order to stay alive and we prefer life to death. and eat most every day. Every man alive preserves his precious life by working, acquiring and using the things which are helpful to his body. Life can be seen as work for the purpose of acquiring and utilizing those things which support life.

      Common life’s main objective is feeding and maintaining the body; Christian life aims at feeding and perfecting the soul leading to eternal life in the kingdom of God. Christian life accomplishes its objective by means of mental and spiritual work in the imperishable Spirit of God.  Common life maintains the body which will perish but on Christian life raises the soul into the eternal kingdom. Christian life provides the means to ascend through spiritual food and drink and proper garments for the soul, all of which are provided by our Lord and Savior Christ.

     Man is destined to become the perfect image and likeness of God and accomplishes this by faith in Jesus Christ and good works with membership in His holy Church. It is the greatest of  honors far superior to any other honor to be a human being, for we are created in the image of God destined to become the image and likeness, and this involves struggling to become holy like God the Father!  This is the aim and objective of our Christian life imposed upon us by the order of Christ who says: “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food which endures unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give you; for Him it is whom the Father has certified” (John 6:27). Christ clearly teaches us not to work for the food of the body alone, but much more so for the food of the soul, not for the food that perishes but for the food that leads to everlasting life.

     Christ shows us the two lives urging us to concentrate on the better and not the worse. Christ alone is our Teacher and Leader who will prepare and guide us to life eternal. Christ offers us the best possible food that man can hope for, telling us that we will eat and drink Him, the Godman. He said this in these words: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread which I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world . . .  For my flesh is truly food and my blood is truly drink. He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John: 51-54).

     As to the work that must be accomplished by everyone to eat this food, He says: “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent” (ibid. 29).  According to Jesus the food for maintaining Christian life is the body and blood in the mystery of the Eucharist, which Christ celebrated on the night in which He was betrayed, and the work for this food is complete faith in Christ. A soul that believes in Christ and eats His body and drinks His blood has eternal life living a life according to God; a soul however, that disobeys the Son of God and does not partake of the heavenly gifts remains in death as it is written: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53).

     Man usually seeks happiness in material things but will not find what he seeks in the material world, and everything material eventually becomes corrupted and dies.  Happiness can only be acquired with the solution of a single problem, which is death  No matter what he acquires man cannot escape death and death is the only obstacle to happiness. Only in Jesus Christ who conquered death by His death, can true and lasting happiness become man’s destiny.  The acquisition of happiness in riches in power or in politics does not last is always be shattered by death. Let us rejoice! Christ has destroyed the authority and power of death and after annihilating death is now the bestower of perfect and eternal life. The death of death is so important that we Orthodox Christians worldwide,  with one voice, glorify its destruction as we celebrate our Orthodox Faith. This is powerfully expressed on every Pascha, for  Jesus Christ has put death to death by His death, causing us to offer this glorious hymn in His praise: “Christ is risen from the dead trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.”

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