Are We Seeking Christ?

Food for Summer Contemplation from St. John of Kronstadt
St. John of Kronstadt | 04 August 2015
Are We Seeking Christ?

Dear brothers and sisters, I ask you a question: What are you seeking? Why do you go to church? What are we all seeking in our lives? Are we seeking Christ?

What is it that most people seek in life? Health, riches, success, acquaintances, friends, prestige, various worldly pleasures, vain knowledge, etc. Only a few seek Christ the Savior. We call ourselves Christians after Christ, we see His holy image in our homes and at church, we pronounce His name and hear it in God’s temple. People seek that which they don’t have, that which they need. So we may seem to have Christ already.

It’s true, we have icons of Christ, but we do not have Christ Himself; we have His name, but only on our lips—not in our hearts; we know Him, but only in word—not in deed. Here, beloved, is a big difference; it is the same difference as between a shadow and the object which casts the shadow. It is, however, precisely with the heart that Christ is truly known, that is, in our inner man—in our soul; because Christ, as God, is Spirit, “who is everywhere present and fills all things.”

God alone, who searches out the hearts and minds (Ps. 7:9), sees what is in our hearts, its attachments. If the Lord granted us to see the full depths of our hearts, we would turn our eyes away in horror from such an overwhelming accumulation of sin. Let each of us look into his heart and say before the witness of our own conscience what it is that occupies our hearts most of all. Passions, sins—voluntary and involuntary—are these not our heart’s constant inhabitants?

But where does Christ actually dwell? In pure hearts, hearts that are humble and contrite; there where men do not prefer the temporal sweetness of sin; where the idols of the passions have been chased out; where crude materiality is not preferred to the Kingdom of God; where Christians turn their thoughts to the heavenly; there where they seek God’s truth, where every day and every hour they are attentive to His commandments. Here is where Christ dwells. And what does He do there? If only we knew (some, of course, do know) what He does in souls worthy of His abiding presence. What rest, comfort, and joy He imparts! What bliss of paradise He gives them to experience while still on this earth.

It is of utmost importance that we seek after Christ and find Him. Without Christ, who will save us from our sins which ensnare us every day and hour, and from the eternal torments? Only the Son of God has power on earth to forgive sins; He alone has the keys to hell and death, the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and life.

To find Christ is not difficult. He is everywhere. He says to us, “I am a God at hand . . . and not a God far off” (Jer. 23:23). As soon as He sees our hearts incline to receive His grace, He immediately enters, bringing with Him peace and comfort. “I stand at the door and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20). Oh, how often He converses with His faithful servants as with true friends. Christ Himself is seeking you: if you but incline your heart toward Him, you will surely find Him.

But how are we to know if we have found Christ and are close to Him? Turn to Him in prayer with faith and love; pronounce from your heart His sweetest name, call upon Him for help; read or listen to His word with childlike simplicity and love; seek frequent union with Him in His life-giving Mysteries; be satisfied with whatever you have and accept what happens to you; strive according to your strength to fulfill Christ’s commandments. It happens that you also will experience trials which are allowed by the loving Master in order that your hearts be cleansed of every sinful impurity. Those who desire to be with Christ must not run away from trials, but even in times of joy, they must not forsake the carrying of their cross.

My dear brothers and sisters! Seek Jesus Christ with faith and love. Do not forget that He gave His life on the Cross for our sakes, to deliver us from sin and eternal torment, and to dwell in our hearts, that we might have great joy. Do not forget, we have all been bought with the price of His blood, and we should belong to Him as to our Redeemer.

Our days are numbered. Every stroke of the clock reminds us to seek Him who created time and Himself stands above the measure of time. He alone is able to pluck us out from the ravaging torrent of time. Every stroke of the clock tells us: Be watchful! You now have one hour less until you must cross the threshold into life after death, which knows neither days nor hours. Do not be seduced by the momentary sweetness of sin, which vanishes like a dream, leaving the soul empty, ailing, anguishing. Do not waste time in useless occupations or idleness. You have a God-given talent to put to use. Busy yourselves in acquiring the Kingdom of Heaven.

While there is still time, therefore, let us hasten to find Christ and in faith create for Him an abode in our hearts, that we not fall prey to the fire of Gehenna, as it is written: “If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6). Amen.

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