The World's Gravity
It seems that mankind, along with much of the Church, has lost its direction. There seems to be two camps forming within these modern and chaotic times, to which a false dichotomy is being formed. This false dichotomy is creating mass confusion as to just what life, especially for Christians, is all about.
When St. Paul the Apostle said that he is “all things to all people,” he was describing the very essence of the Gospel. He was expressing the fact that the Gospel is not about converting people to an ancient paradigm and religious lifestyle, but to a mystical reality that is both esoteric as well as existential, “on earth as it is in heaven,” as Christ says.
~ The False Dichotomy
The two camps being created are not hitting this note of conversion. The one, more traditional side, preaches a Gospel that is centered on religiosity… getting it right and making certain that worship, politics, business, etc. are all conforming to this rightness. They think they are adhering to the theology of “applying Christ to all things.”
The other, more liberal side, preaches a Gospel that is centered on not applying moral and spiritual principles to “all things,” but merging their morality and spirituality “with all things.” So, there is an “all things” problem.
The very reason why Paul says he is “all things” is because, yes, all things matter. But all things cannot be capitalized on. In other words, it’s not about applying our philosophy or theology to all things, but about literally adopting all things as a complete “system”, as a complete worldview. As Christ taught us, we are to make a distinction of “worldliness”, of just what the “world” is and how we are not to be a part of “this world”, as he puts it. And as Christ’s own brother, The Apostle James, says, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
So, to “repent” of our sins is not simply an issue of moral conflict, but it’s a worldview conflict. There is a world that is perishing, and there is a world that is NOT perishing. The non- perishing world is what we need to embrace. How is this done? We certainly should not kill ourselves. The reason that killing ourselves is not an option is because that the non-perishing community (Church) is to lead by example INTO eternity. We model the eternal city, as St. Paul the Apostle teaches us. He says that we have a city that is “temporary” and that we should look forward to this city becoming eternal. He calls it “the city to come.”
When we convert, we give our hearts, and, yes, our minds, as St. Paul says, to this model of community, to this “city to come”, as he states. St. Peter the Apostle encourages us by stating that we are “a Holy Nation”, “a Chosen People”. This is what we become a part of when we convert and when we grow in our theosis with Christ. We become a part of this people of God, as the Russian Orthodox teach us so well.
This tension of us being “in the world but not of the world”, as Christ puts it, is a very serious part of our salvation and has become a point of dissension for Christians in these “last days”. The reason is elementary: as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there is a dichotomy being constructed within Orthodoxy and many other religions today. This dichotomy is being fueled by simpleton ideologies that are easy for the modern man to understand. Concepts of race, political justice, and even more simplified concepts, often drawn from Hollywood films.
Our morals are not at stake, as the Roman Catholic Church has taught for so long. What is at stake is our livelihood. There is simply no reason to live this life apart from loving our neighbor as the very image of Christ. This love does have isolated standards of morality, but more importantly it has absolute standards of eternity. And as we convert, we are not converting to a perfectly fit community that will last on earth, but one that will last on earth INTO heaven. Neither the political liberal nor conservative belief will contain this eternal movement. These are both moralistic philosophies that always end up in the political cesspool. So, this begs the question: which perfectly fit community will stand the test of the eschaton, the test of time? The answer, of course, is the Apostolic community of Christ’s Church.
But the Church is not infallible, again, as Rome proclaims. The Church, as Christ and the fathers teach us, will go through many apostasies, leaving remnants throughout the ages. Yes, the eternal value, the essence of the Church is infallible, as St. Peter says it is. The “gates of hades shall not prevail.” But as we can see from the Revelation of St. John, many parishes are actually hell-bound.
The remnant of the Church is what we are saved through because she is the continuing community of all time. She is the community that swims up stream and cuts against the grain. She always has been and always will be, until Christ’s return. She will always be uniting in neighborly fashion, because this is what it is to love Christ’s image (our neighbor). Loving our neighbor means to be building Christian community, beginning with the so-called “nuclear family” and networking this model within nature, and through the Church. Historically, this has been people living amongst each other in catacombs and then in villages and nations. In this post-imperial time, without an Orthodox emperor, the Church has been very scattered, becoming victimized by modern forms of ecumenistic politics. We need to draw away from this political snare, as many of our saints teach us, and get back to our belief of God’s People that oppose the world’s community, as Christ commands. However small and broken our nuclear families are, they become healed and strengthened within the family of Christ, forming the Holy Nation that St. Peter spoke to us about.
The securities of the World must go. This requires turning away from its very core, to which both the liberals and conservatives will not want you to leave. They want our minds and souls because they see us in these last days with no “party”, with no movement that we have been so accustomed to. They are leaches to the Church. They use us to appease their conscience, but refuse to form a relationship with us that is Orthodox. We are very vulnerable in these times, brothers and sisters!