“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build up. For Christ did not please Himself…” (Romans 15:1-3).
We, as Orthodox Christian believers, do not live for ourselves. Our greatest example of this is our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ. Our Lord’s earthly life and ministry reveals His total devotion to all people and their needs. In His infinite love He embraced everyone who was lost, who was hurt, who was ill, who was sinful and was in need of forgiveness, who were possessed by demonic powers, who sought salvation.
The Orthodox Christian keeps the Lord Jesus in His sights and emulates His Divine example of unconditional love, mercy, kindness, compassion, self-sacrifice, forgiveness, humility, meekness, sacrifice, and selflessness. Let us turn to the holy Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians who reminds us of Christ’s example of humility and says, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same in, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men…” (Philippians 2:1-7).
We are all precious in the eyes of God. We are all essential and part of His Divine plan. We have been given a special talent but not to hide it but to use it and invested so that it may be multiplied. There is a definite purpose to our living beyond just simply existing. It is God the Holy Spirit that through His grace can open the eyes of our understanding of His Divine Will for us.
The Orthodox Christian believers are essential in the Holy Church. The Holy Church of God is comprised of clergy and laity. There can be no Church without one or the other. The Orthodox Christian believers express openly and with confidence the True faith. The voice of the clergy and the lay Orthodox Christians voice the “conscience of the Church.” No Orthodox Christian who is educated in the faith and practices it daily is ever willing to compromise it or adulterate it.
Historically the Church faced persecution from without from her enemies who sought to destroy it. Over the centuries, however, the Church, faced even a more insidious threats from within, by those who sought to corrupt it from within, known as heretics. The Holy Church had to come together in the form of Ecumenical Synods, not only to define the Truth under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but to also defend it by establishing the dogmas of the Church. The dogmas of the Orthodox Church can never be challenged or changed by anyone. Those who attempted to do this found themselves excommunicated from her and branded forever as heretics.
The Church of Christ has faced all kinds of dangerous attacks over 2,000 years of her life and has always triumphed. In the Gospel of Saint Matthew Chapter 16:18 Jesus says, “…You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The Church, my beloved spiritual children, is none other, than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Nothing and no one can destroy the Church.
The Orthodox Christian is essential indeed. The voice of the people of God is always essential in matters of faith. It is therefore imperative that the Orthodox Christian not ever be deceived by the Adversary but remain alert to defend the Truth, Christ our God. The Lord is indeed the “Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 21:6) of all. Our loyalty and commitment is to Him. “May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You! Make those who love Your salvation say evermore, ‘God is Great!’ (Psalm 70:4).