Father Andrew: Being a Christian is a Great Boldness!

It is hard to speak about the true life, when you are clinically dead all the time, but we have to. This is why I would like to say: do not trust yourself, your feelings and mood, because all these temporary things mean nothing. We are living in a so-called shell, and a person is pressed in this shell – by his flash, by earth, by miserable human needs and relationships. Of course, we are used to live in this shell, because it is warm and pleasant for us. But if the shell is crashed, then how are we going to live? What should we do? However, we need to leave our shells. Perhaps, we will be face the beasts or temptations.. We should hope that we will be able to fly: we will get the wings and will get off the ground. This hope should make us stronger and encourage us.

How can we accept that we will be buried and there will be nothing left from us? Do we consider ourselves just as dead corpses? Christ tells us we are alive. He is risen and He gives us life, but we do not value it, we lose it. Of course, everything is not that simple. Today you may have some thoughts. You lay and get some sleep – and we’ll see what you will think tomorrow. You wake up, and you have completely different mood. People are fickle, and all these inner variations affect our lives. People are used to live and act in accordance with their own will… What if God’s will is different? He may tell you that it is your time to go home, that you should not moan and that there is nothing in this world you should hold on to. Father Nicholas Gurianov told many times: “Life will be much better there…” We do not trust God: who can say definitely, what awaits us there? However, in this life we think that we have at least something…

The closer you come to God, the stronger becomes your internal pain. Each step towards God tears a person apart. He does not want us to get attached to time, space or particular values. He wants us to be free. But we consider this freedom to be something tragic and unpleasant for us. It is really important to humble ourselves and to see the true aim of our life. Instead we always try to adapt God to our life, to tame Him and make Him serve us. In fact, we have to understand God: why did He come down to earth, what did He bring us? Why were the Cross and all His sufferings? He could just defeat the Scribes and Pharisees, sit on the throne in Jerusalem and create a new fair state, where all people have everything they need and are equal. Kind of “Christian Communism”, you know. 

However, it is impossible to do this in our world, as it is impossible for our frail flash and blood, which do not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. That is why sometimes we feel exhausted: it means that God’s grace is with us. We think it is something bad. We cannot change our conscience and look at these things from a different angle. Indeed, a birth on earth means future funeral at the same time. A baby is born today, but in some years a haggard old man will be buried. You see, it is really difficult to stay strong in this world. What is more, the devil is constantly advising us something wrong and pushing us to sin…

This is why to be a Christian is a greatest art, or even boldness. Being a Christian does not mean that I just go to church, light up some candles, cross myself… Well then, I might also take the communion – I open my mouth and then I leave the church and forget about this. It is not about this! If we accept Christ, then we accept the death of the inner “old man” as well. We can say that Blood and Body of Christ is a poison for a sin and an “old man”, which will die slowly and painfully from this poison. At the same time it is the only opportunity for a “new man” to be born and to live forever. We cannot understand this on our own. 

If you are attached to this world and you are satisfied with it, you like to live in this way, then it means that you lose, because it is a mistake. It is just a devil’s trap for you. On the other hand, if you manage to break out of this and to say “Enough! I trust God and no one can shatter my trust. I do not serve any lords and purposes!”, then you become one step closer to your freedom. In other words, you should test yourself whether you can leave everything behind and become poor or not. Should you try to hold on something material - houses, cars, comfort, people, hobbies – it is over. You are in a cage.

God wants to gift us the greatest freedom: “Follow Me”. – “But I have to bury my father”. – “Let the dead bury the dead, but you follow Me”. – “I can’t do it now. I have too much to do”. – “Follow Me’’…So we start to drown as we try to go this way, like Apostle Peter, because we hesitate. Apostle Peter wanted to go towards God on water – and Christ let him do that. The Apostle saw the storm and was afraid the waves would drown him. And he began to drown indeed, as he doubted in God. The Lord was near him, and Peter remembered that. Otherwise he would certainly sink to the bottom. The same is with us: we should s remember that God is always with us.

We think that everything is destroyed… What if it is not what we really need? What if it was just an illusion? What if it was something wrong and unnecessary? When we come to confess, we start to think, to recall recent sins. Instead we should speak about eternal life and our souls, about significant things which really matter and affect us. We should speak about how difficult and frightening it is to come out of the shell, how frightening it is to accept our “Cross”, our shameful execution for the greatest gift of love. If you want to love, then be ready to suffer. If you do not want to suffer, then how can you speak about love? Then it is a kind of mutual agreement: I give you money, and you give me comfort. But this is not love.

Love is when people forget about their personal needs. Today we are not ready for this. We have so many things to change in ourselves! It is too early to speak today about Christianity and Orthodoxy: you can raise an icon above your head, but people will continue to step on your feet – your love will end. We came are in the Church for healing, as there is a cure for any disease. For example, if a person with cancer knows that the Eucharist is taken for health of his soul and body, then he should believe that these Blood and Body of Christ will heal him by God’s will. The same is with any other illness. In the akathist to the Mother of God Pantanassa there are words saying that the holy water can heal. Then why does it not heal us? Why do we not fly? Because we will fly in a wrong direction and fall down. But we should remember, that “our tears will turn into happiness”.

We should gain spiritual experience from any life situation. Analyze our lives, and seek for God’s will, because God is always around. He will reach out His hand to you, just like He reached it out to Apostle Peter. No matter how deep we mired in sin, He will help us to keep us from despair. Trust and be saved.

                                                                                                                    Father Andrew