My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
The Holy Apostle Paul exhorts Christians to be, "Watch, stand fast in
the faith, be brave, be strong" [1 Corinthians 16:13].
And again urges the faithful, "My beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" [1 Corinthians 15:58]. The Christians then, as well, throughout the centuries faced incredible challenges, obstacles, temptations, deception, enticements, pride, heresies, superstitions, paganism, scisms, and sins of the flesh. However, the Christian is to triumph over all these vices and by and through true faith, ascetic practices– prayer, fasting, repentance, philanthropy, and genuine humility and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ and His commandments.
Christians then, as well as today, are in danger of living in a corrupt world, a world of deception, pride, lawlessness, vices, and a mind controlled by passions. It is a strong undercurrent that pulls the unbelieving and naive person out into the open sea where he or she will ultimately drown alone. The Orthodox Christian must never lose sight of our Savior Jesus Christ Who has given us a panoply to fight the "good fight" and be victorious. All faithful believers in Jesus Christ, our God and Savior must be willing to wage a constant battle with the forces of evil. Christians fight back with God’s arms, that is, the uncreated energy given to us.
The Holy Apostle Paul explains clearly what the Christians must do when he writes, "Finally, my brethren, BE STRONG IN THE LORD AND IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but AGAINST PRINCIPALITIES, AGAINST POWERS, AGAINST THE RULERS OF THE DARKNESS OF THIS AGE, AGAINS SPIRITUAL HOSTS OF WICKEDNESS IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES… Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked (evil) one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:10-17).
Now more so than ever before Orthodox Christians must make sure that they are vigilant and always alert for everyone is faced with a severe assault by the evil one who threatens the very existence of humanity. All must take it very seriously and be spiritually ready at all times and all places. Readiness, awareness, and vigilance: diligence in prayer, fasting, and watchfulness in submission always to God the Holy Spirit. Especially those on the "front lines," bishops and priests. "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all saints"(faithful) [Ephesians 6:18-].
Orthodox Christians are exhorted by Saint Paul as well as our Authentic Church of Christ to "set our mind on things above, NOT on things of the earth" (Colossians 3:2). People currently are convinced and indoctrinated by unbelieving society that the contemporary person must be materialistic and a constant consumer of goods. That one must submit to a secular and a paganistic world authority otherwise they are threatened with being canceled and ostracized. Threatens to deprive those who are disobedient to their wicked agenda even of the essential means of living and for one to be able to provide the necessities of life to their family. What is witnessed is the evil intentions and cruel and inhumane treatment of all citizens throughout the world.
There is nothing that can be considered theoretical in what is taking place in our contemporary world. The evil one has declared war on humanity but especially on the Christ-believing people in the world. Persecution against Christians is nothing new. But the war against our Founder and Savior has never ceased for 2,000 years. It is understood by Orthodox Christians that as we draw near to the end times that persecution against those remaining steadfast in their faith will become fierce and deliberate. However, no Christians should be afraid like all those, our fellow Christians, who were willing to suffer and die for Christ. I pray that everyone understands that we are NOT speaking about what may happen in the future but what is already happening at the present time.
One sees the corruption and decay of what is happening today and how all people are impacted by laws and decisions taken by civil and secular governments in countries all over the world. Fear of punishment and imprisonment is used to intimidate and control people, the fear of abducting the children of their parents, threats of losing work, submitting to sexual experiments of children, normalizing drug use, religious persecution, destroying marriage and family, false accusations, encouraging anarchy, redefining what a person is, creating confusion and turning one against another, undermining values and virtuous life, and literally turning all beliefs upsidedown. What more proof does one need to see truly what Christians are up against?
Orthodox Christians are not fighting alone in this battle. God is with us! We, Orthodox Christians are reminded of His presence among us constantly in our divine services i.e., Great Compline when we chant: "God is with us, know it you nations and be submissive FOR GOD IS WITH US. Hear it to the ends of the earth. FOR GOD IS WITH US…And if I trust in Him, it shall be a blessing to me. FOR GOD IS WITH US…" Our Merciful and Loving God has not and will never abandon His creation, His children, and allow the evil one to usurp His authority. Our Lord, God, and Savior promises: "and lo, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN TO THE END OF THE AGE" (Matthew 28:20). He is with us now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
+ + +
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God