It is “Our” God, Not “Mine”

By Fr. Sergius Nezhbort

People have a hard time trying to let others into their hearts. More often than not, God becomes “my personal God” instead of “our God”, and therefore attempts by other people to enter this “sacred” union are perceived as spiritual aggression. It is vital for a person to have the experience that my God is also your God, and your sin, regardless of how abominable I may find it, is also my sin in a sense. I cannot push you off and say, “You’re a bad person, go away.” I have to understand that you’re so bad because I’m bad, too: if I were different, you would also be different.

It is often the case that a person who apparently leads a more or less pious life (at least, visibly) thinks that he is superior to other people, as if they were lower class because they live differently. In fact, we have to realise that God does not treat us like lower class. He loves us all. He does so not because He is so magnanimous but because He sees each person as a unique personality. We can’t be more misled than when we start to divide people into castes and classes, even unwittingly!

We’re so messed up. We are touched by grace and our hearts soften; we want peace and tranquillity; but then we see a child running around the church and misbehaving, and we catch ourselves reacting with “righteous” anger: What’s that? Why don’t his parents look after him? Take that boy away! On the one hand, it’s excusable but we forget that the child and his mother might also be having a very important moment.

A man told me that he has two adopted children, and he has a lot of trouble with them. He goes through various times with them, sometimes even becoming desperate. That’s why he seeks God’s support and comes to church with these kids. Unfortunately, these children can’t stay still in the church even for a brief period of time. Other people in the church start complaining and demand that he either “teaches his kids to behave” or “leaves”… People just don’t care to know why these children act like that. If only they stopped to think what kind of life these children had had, what traumas they had endured, and why they had been left without their parents. We don’t know the full story and we are hardly capable of digesting it. We prefer to focus on our own stories and feelings.

Here I am with my prayer, my fasting, my righteousness. Okay, I admit it’s not as perfect as I would like it to be, but everything else is rubbish.

It would be great if, before commenting or complaining with someone, we could pause to think that I might have a stake in that person whom I dislike and whom I prefer not to see or hear. Maybe it’s me who is responsible?

Therefore, when we come to church, we should lay all earthly cares aside but remain thoughtful towards the people around us. God sometimes acts through these people. It is through them that He can tell us something, warn us, or stop us from doing something wrong. If we become sensitive and compassionate, we will really abide in God.

May 14, 2018
St. Elisabeth Convent