Friday, February 10, 2012

Homily 35: You're Doing It Wrong (as preached by an orthodox rebel)

"Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him.... See to it that no one takes you the rudiments of the world." Col. 2:6-8

As Christians, our Reality is Christ, not the world and its ideas and notions. We are a new creation, new creatures, new men and women, essentially different from all other people and people groups (II Cor. 5:17). The fundamental rules for our life and existence have changed; the mainspring is moving to a completely different time. We do not move to the world anymore: we are pulled by the gravity of another world and star. We are peculiar people indeed, extraterrestrial in the truest sense: this world is not our home.

Our apprehension and appreciation of this one truth (i.e., that we belong to a new world, a new reality, a new life) is constantly under assault in the day-to-day lives that we must live. The world that we wander through as aliens and strangers (I Pet. 2:11) is continually trying to entangle us in its particulars. I am not simply speaking of sin, though heaven knows that would be evil enough. Rather, I am including all the aspects of the world: its fads and fashions, hysterias and manias, creeds and dogmas, philosophies and principles, notions and instincts and assumptions, moralisms and political correctness, politics and passions, thoughts and wishes and desires, and even cares and concerns. The world runs its own course, fundamentally secular with tinges of misplaced mysticism, ignorant and devoid of the God who is, ringing out its own hollow note on its lonely sphere. And we too often dance to its tune.

Ought we to care for the poor? The diseased? The hurting? Absolutely, but ask yourself: why do you do these things? What is your motive and purpose? Is it some man-made utopic vision, born of this or that political philosophy? Is it some shallow sentimentalism of your own, fanned and fueled by this or that speaker or book or conference or rally? If so, then you are wrong; sincere, but wrong. We are Christians: born of God and built on Christ. What do we care for the utopias and visions and sentiments of this world? We care for the poor and diseased and hurting because we belong to a kingdom that is not of this world, a kingdom where poverty, disease, and suffering have not, do not, and will not exist. A kingdom whose God loves all men, not by any human philosophy or politic or standard of our own, but because He is love. A kingdom that is coming soon, whose Christ is the firstborn and forerunner, and we are the first-fruits and ambassadors. If your are serving the least of these for any other reason than the new reality to which you belong to by the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the most intimate of communions, then you're doing it wrong.

Shall we fight for social justice? Of course, but we must fight it as Christians. Shall we involve ourselves in politics? Absolutely, but we must involve ourselves as Christians. Shall we engage the arts and culture, creating our own in the process? Naturally, but we must engage and create as Christians. We must make as Christians. Build as Christians. Fight as Christians. Eat, pray, and love as Christians. Live and die as Christians. In whatever our hands find to do, we do it with our might "as unto the Lord" (Col. 3:17), for our "affections," our innermost disposition and being, is set on things above, not on things of the earth (Col. 3:1-2). We are partakers and practitioners of this great secret: that the only way to be of any earthly good is to be heavenly-minded. We must never lose sight of the heavenly vision, to which we are bound and knit together by the love of God, the death and resurrection of Christ, and the seal of the Spirit. From that vision, that sight of the Empyrean Prime, we live and move and have our being. That is no abstract assertion; it is the truth of our very existence as the children of God. We belong to Christ, who is one with the Father (John 17:20-23; Col. 3:3). That is our reality, the very ground and footholds for our day-to-day walking and waking. Pray to God that His Spirit would make it more and more real to us in every corner of our lives. Amen.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2012

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