My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be.
"…TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS
THAT I HAVE COMMENDED YOU." (Matthew 28:20)
The sacred mission of the Holy Church is to continue revealing God’s absolute Divine Truth to all of humanity. To accomplish this task our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ commissioned and commanded His holy Disciples to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:19). Making disciples cannot be done in the strength of man, but only in the power of God Himself.
Beginning His earthly Divine Ministry, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ began to preach and to say, ‘Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). Repentance is absolutely necessary to enter and continue in Jesus’ New Way of life. Repentance, Gk. Metanoia, indicates man’s turning from himself to Our Creator and God. It means belief and a total about-face, a radical change of one’s "phronema" or mindset and heart. "A complete reorientation of the whole of one’s life and being." It is the actual change in one’s thinking, feeling, and acting. The willingness of man to conform to the Divine will and commandments of the Almighty and Merciful God.
Christianity is not another of the thousands upon thousands of man-made religions, but the absolute Truth of God, revealed by Him to all of mankind through His Only-begotten Son Jesus Christ. Our Divine and Heavenly Teacher, our Master, the Logos/Word of God set out to reveal that He indeed is "the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6). And too, "No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). To Him we look and to Him we listen. We are called by God to be "in Christ."
It is absurd for any one of the Christian Faith to assert or believe that the Divine Teachings of our Lord can be changed by us. He is very firm and resolute when it comes to His Divine Teachings. He says, "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called the least in the Kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:19). Not observing the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ is a severe violation of God’s law. It is unthinkable for a Christian believer to pick and chose, or to be selective of what he/she likes or does not like about the revealed truths taught by our Lord Christ.
The Holy Orthodox Church is the principle and primary interpreter of God’s revelation, because of the permanent presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church. The Holy Spirit gives her aid and guidance because she is "the church of the Living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). The Church is the body of Christ, the Incarnate Logos (Ephesians 1:22). Who else is to declare the Gospel? Who shall preach the Word of God? Preaching and proclaiming are part of the essence of the Holy Church.
It is in the Holy Church that we, as members of the body of Christ, are guided, enlightened, and nourished by the Holy Spirit our God. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Himself is always present within the Church, for "He is the Head of the body, the Church." The baptized members of the Church are constantly transformed and saved by the grace of the Holy Spirit within it. The Church is the Ark of salvation.
No one Orthodox Christian should ever marginalize or dismiss the guidance of our Holy Orthodox Church. As Orthodox Christians, we believe that the Church is Christ Himself. When we listen to the Church speak, we believe, that we are listening to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Himself, for Christ is in her and she in Him, she is in very truth His body (Ephesians 1:22, 23).
We live in very dangerous times and we need to turn more and more to our Church for guidance. There are many voices of false prophets and preachers out there who are attempting to lure us away from our Church. They use all kinds of enticements and snares to catch us, but we must be alert and wise to avoid becoming their victims. The authentic Church of Christ is the only means for salvation. It is up to the individual Orthodox Christian to listen. Many times after the Lord Christ spoke to the people, He would say, "He who has ears to hear let him hear" (Luke 8:8).
"Glory Be To GOD
–Saint John Chrysostom
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George