My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
WHO AM I IF NOT A CHILD OF GOD?
The answer to this question comes from the Gospel of Saint John 1:12, who writes, "But as many as received Him, in them He gave THE RIGHT TO BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD, to those who BELIEVE IN His Name." As we can see, this IS A GIFT. Those of us who receive Jesus Christ are given His power, His grace to "become children of God. Divine sonship is a gift of grace THROUGH FAITH in Jesus Christ. In other words, by our own faith in Christ God. To "believe" means to trust oneself totally to our Savior: Who He is, what He does, and what He teaches.
"Whether slaves or free, children or elders, barbarians or Greeks, as many as received Him, TO THEM GAVE His power to become sons of God." Who were they who received Him? Those who believed in His name. Therefore, those who received the Logos/Word and the True Light are they who received and accepted Him through faith. Saint Theophylact writes, "Why did the Evangelist John not say that He made them sons of God, but only that He gave them the power to become sons of God?" Listen, and I will tell you. To guard the purity of the soul and body, it is not enough to be baptized. We must ALSO ZEALOUSLY EXERT OURSELVES TO PRESERVE UNSPOTTED THE IMAGE OF ADOPTION IMPRINTED ON US IN THE BAPTISMAL FONT. Many who received THE GRACE OF ADOPTION through Baptism HAVE PROVEN LAZY AND IN THE END, DID NOT BECOME SONS OF GOD…Furthermore, even if we receive the grace of adoption through Baptism, we will receive THE COMPLETION AND PERFECTION OF THIS GRACE IN THE RESURRECTION, WHEN WE HOPE TO ACQUIRE THE FULLNESS OF ADOPTION. As Saint Paul says, "Even we are waiting for the adoption" (Romans 8:23).
Our ancient Hellenic (Greek) ancestors had a phrase γνώθι σεαυτόν’ ("know thyself"). This phrase has a high value and a profound religious value and is of immense significance to us. It makes us face the fact that WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND AND TO ACCEPT WHO WE TRULY ARE. We cannot truly pretend for the rest of our lives to be something we are not. We must be true to ourselves and face honestly the outcome and reality. Saint Augustine directed the judgment in the Christian sense when he says, "… fall within yourself because inside of man lies the truth."
In any case, "knowing oneself" is a difficult task, the most difficult as Thales of Miletus said. It is, therefore, necessary that we seek through prayer the help from our Lord in order to accomplish this most difficult task. We need first to strip away all pride or ego, which is one great obstacles to overcome. Pride stands in the way of discovering who we are, and if we are to be successful in our effort to find the answer, we must not allow it to interfere with this examination of ourselves. We, of course, understand that our God and Creator knows who we are and is willing to reveal to us the truth, but we need to ask Him.
The Creator made us unique. We were created by Him with certain gifts and spiritual potential to become like Him. Our ultimate goal as His children is that through God’s energies we achieve union with Him. We become united with Him by grace in the Person of our Jesus Christ, Who is God in the flesh. However, the means of becoming "like God" is through perfection in holiness, the continuous process of acquiring the Holy Spirit by grace through ascetic devotion (Theosis).
According to our Church, all people are born flawed because their nature was befouled by the Fall of Adam and Eve, our ancestors. This is why as children, although innocent, we carry this ancestral sin and we need to be baptized and to be born again. We must be made pure and holy by God’s grace and become God’s children. "Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, UNLESS ONE IS BORN AGAIN, HE CANNOT SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD" (St. John 3:3). Being "born again" is but the beginning of spiritual life in Christ.
When we pray to God, we pray believing that we are His children, and this why we refer to Him as "Our Father…" for He truly is our Father Who is in heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven is our real home and we were created by God to live eternally in His glory and to worship and glorify Him as the Holy Angels do.
With God’s help, we will be able to come to know who we truly are. We are not as complicated as some of us believe that we are. By the grace of God, we will dissolve the fog, our pretentiousness, our fakeness, our falseness, our imagining, which hinders the process of discovery. Once everything is clear we will see our genuine self and hopefully we will be pleased with what we see. No one is perfect. If we see imperfections in our character or person, we need not fear. Through God’s grace and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are able to correct our imperfections and attain perfection in the Person of Christ.
Knowing who we are will bring us inner peace and contentment. It will give us the confidence to continue our struggle to theosis. We will find our place in God’s realm and rejoice in His Divine Presence. It will strengthen our relationship with Him and with one another. We will no longer be imposters but children of God. We will discover our spiritual potential and our God-given gifts and be able to invest them in the spiritual bank as the Lord commands that we do. It is only by knowing our imperfections that can we attempt to make the necessary changes and corrections. It is only when we discover our many self-inflicted spiritual injuries that we will seek the necessary healing from our Divine Physician and Savior.
When we are ill, it is wrong to ignore our sickness and to refuse to see a physician. However, as the symptoms progress, there may be no hope of recovery. Likewise, we cannot ignore the spiritual illness of our immortal souls. We need to find out as soon as possible how serious our spiritual illness is and how to prevent the death of our souls. The Mysteria (Sacraments) of our Holy Church was instituted by our Savior Jesus Christ to bestow forgiveness of sins, healing, and reconciliation with God. This CANNOT and SHOULD NOT BE POSTPONED. It is about life and death and not something to be dismissed as fanaticism or exaggerations. Instead, turn to our Loving God and seek His grace, forgiveness, and great mercy.
By the grace and mercy and philanthropy of Thine Only-Begotten Son,
with Whom Thou are blessed together with Thine All-Holy, Good and Life-
Giving Spirit, now and forever, and from all Ages to all Ages. Amen.