Throughout our life, we go through many changes, experience many ups and downs. Today we are children of light (John 12:36), but tomorrow we are filled with doubts and wonder; “Who is God? Where is God? God has forgotten me”. This happens because the ego has placed itself in opposition to God, has made a god of itself, and it is impossible for the two to coexist. The presence of one requires the absence of the other. It is as if two mighty gods, the God of my salvation and the god I have made out of my self, have come into conflict. If the ego wins, I will experience psychological isolation, which will include isolation from those around me, along with the feelings of bitterness and sorrow. These feelings are the proof that the ego has rejected the God of salvation. The “ego” – taken to include body, soul and spirit – has sent God into exile. Before this happens, I am locked in a struggle with God, and woe to me if I should win.
This marks a critical juncture in my life, for it is the moment when I will have to utter definitive “yes” or “no” to God. This is the moment when all the conflicts and cross-pressures in the soul, when all the contradictions in my life, rise to their most critical levels. If I say “yes”, choosing to reaffirm my ego, I will begin to sink and be lost. If I say “no”, it will be as if I returned to life, as if I was resurrected and redeemed. In essence, the ego is a king who is fated to suffer regicide; who is condemned to die and be buried in the ground. Yet something even worse, for my life will be one of the endless anxiety and despair. I will suffer eternally in the hell of my inner division, for I will forever call upon God and forever reject Him. I will find myself in a place where I shall no longer be able to repent.
If however, I am victorious; If I decide to put my ego to death, then the King of Glory will rise from the dead (Psalm 23:7), the Lord of my salvation, for whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matthew 16:24). The darkness of my isolation will be dispersed by the light of God, and He Himself will be my companion; He will grant me genuine spiritual life, which is something greater than my life, for it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. (Galatian 2:20) His experiences shall become mine. This is the goal of my struggling; this is why I wrestle with God. And it is not just my struggle, but the struggle of every soul, and of the Church as a whole.
Hear, O My people, and I will speak unto you, O Israel, and I will testify to you if you hear me, there shall be in you no new god, nor shall you worship an alien god, for I am the Lord your God who led you out of the land of Egypt.
“If you wish to hear Me, you will not worship another god. But if you forget Me, you will end up worshiping a new god, a god lately concocted. But if you hear me, I shall remain your God, your helper”. Although this appears to take a form of a threat, it is actually more of a complaint, as if God were saying, “if only you would listen to Me! You just do not understand Me. If you could hear what I am saying to you, you would not fashion new gods for yourselves”.
The new god stands in direct opposition to the God of Jacob. What is a new god? It is whatever the real God is not. The new gods are the idols fashioned by man. They are in fact, projections of man himself, who has put himself in the place of God. Man’s gods and idols are his thoughts; his self-will is the god he worships, for he is a slave to his desires. One of the prophets says they have placed their thoughts in their hearts (Ezekiel 14:3), which means that in the place where they should have established God, they set up their vain thoughts. The Hebrew text is even more emphatic, for it says they have taken their idols into their hearts (Ezekiel 14:3. But whether we speak of idols, or thoughts, or passions, it amounts to the same thing: the gods of the heart. “If you listened to Me, you would not have filled your heart with idols”.
Men of worse passions even made gods of their emotions, or gave divine honors to anger, murder, lust and drunkenness, finding here an excuse for their own sins. Saint Athanasios of Alexandria said, even today, there exist pagan shrines and idols. One such shrine is desire, and the idol within it is the demon of lust, since the person who is a slave to pleasure has renounced Jesus and worships the idol of Venus that he has set up within himself, that is, the base pleasure of carnal desire. So too the person who is overcome by anger; he has denied Jesus in order to worship Mars, the god of war. But if you prevail over these passions, and throw down these idols, you will be a true martyr, having made the good confession in front of many witnesses (1 Tim 6:12)
Nor shall you worship an alien god. “These men have placed their thoughts in their heart: Shall I even answer them? (Ezekiel 14:3) How can I possibly respond to them? I cry out to them, but they do not understand Me; they do not see Me, they do not feel My presence. They have other gods. Perhaps I should remain in My dark cloud, keep silent, for how shall I even answer them?”
Once upon a time, there was a Soldier deeply in touch with his own heart. One day in the course of his military service in the company’s quarters, he came across a fellow soldier due for discharge who was sitting gloomily on his pallet. The good Soldier went up to him and said, ‘What’s the matter? Why do you sit there with your head in your hands instead of being glad, like everyone else, that you have done your time and are off home? I have just had a letter from home, ‘was the soldier’s reply.’ They write that my wife has had a child from someone while I was away.’ He was silent for a space, shaking his head. Then in a low voice, in which grief mingled with anger and injured pride, he muttered, ‘I am sacred of what I shall do to her. That is why I don’t want to go home.’ And you, the good soldier, asked him quietly, ‘since you left home, how many times have you been in the brothel house down the street? ‘Well . . .’ said the soldier, as if he were just remembering, ‘there have been times . . .’ You see, you could not wait. Do you think it was easy for her? It is all right for you – you are a man but once is enough to get her into trouble. Remember what you have done. You are more in the wrong than she is. Forgive her. Go home, accept the child as your own and, you will see, everything will be all right.
A few months later the good soldier received a grateful letter from the soldier telling him how as he had approached his home his father and mother came out to meet him, ‘uneasy’, while his wife, apprehensive and nervous, waited at the door with the child in her arms. Since the good soldier had talked to him at the barracks he had felt quite all right. He greeted his parents happily, then cheerily went up to his wife, took the child and kissed it, too. They all went indoors together, and after that walked round the village visiting relatives and friends. And wherever they went he carried the child in his arms, and everything was very pleasant. And since then, they had all lived contentedly together. In this letter the soldier thanked his good friend for his good advice. And there is no denying that the advice was not only good but wise, too. We all must realize that an essential condition for harmony amongst people is that each should recognize his own shortcomings.
And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Very difficult moments for humanity are coming. It seems that these difficult moments are just now starting. When this virus will end in May, other grievances will come; far greater than this one.
Therefore, we will need even more patience and even more faith. Now we are in the stage of practice, and of exams. These exams will pass, and more difficult ones will come.
That is why I am asking you, and I have said this in other places as well, in every town the priest should find ten prayerful people. If he finds more, all the better!
Give each of the ten people to read every day, at any time they can, two Kathismas from the Psalter of David.
Two Kathismas (16 Psalms) take about 15 minutes. That’s why we call them Kathismas.
And where it writes, “Glory be to the Father…”, we get up and make three crosses (prostrations).
At the end, we will commemorate the names of the living and the dead, those who love us and those who hate us, those who serve us and those who harm us, and the people who are in pain (suffering).
There are many people who are in need of being commemorated and in need of our love.
This is the best way, which God has enlightened me with, and which I have received as counsel from enlightened people, so that we can build bastions of faith in every village and in every place. Let’s do concrete things, not just words and sermons!
As you can see, the situation is worsening; the times are worsening.
What should the Christians do? Are they only capable of putting on masks to protect themselves from these things? During the next illness we will not be able to protect ourselves with masks, nor with “shots” (vacc—s). What will we do then?
“Shots” will prove themselves to be very dangerous for people. In the same way we have genetically modified food, we will have, slowly, slowly, modified people.
Therefore, Christians must do the things which are difficult. Christians are meant for the difficult things. Atheists are meant for the easy things; who think they can change the world, but in fact they cannot even change themselves.
The Christian is the who one can change, he is the one who can transform, the one who can be sanctified. Us Bishops have a great responsibility!
If we cannot influence the many, we can help through the mediation of the few. God can do His work even with only two or three people!
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20.)
Isiah 22:12 – 13
In that day the Lord of hosts called for weeping and mourning, for baldness and for girding with sackcloth. But instead, they celebrated in joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, so as to eat and drink wine, saying, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
Commentary: The enemy is at Jerusalem’s gates, yet the people answer the call of the Lord of hosts for repentance by throwing a drunken feast. “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom 14:17)
Father Savvas the Antonine on vaccination and side effects
A father from monastery of Arizona gave this advice that we should not accept the vaccine. He is not the only one, there are other Fathers who say the same, contemporary Fathers, because first of all we don’t know what is in the vaccine, this is the main thing. How can you accept to be injected with something if you don’t know exactly what it is? This vaccine has been developed with new technology which has never been used before. Until now vaccines contained attenuated viruses or parts of viruses which stimulated the immune system forcing it into creating the anti-bodies. This new vaccine isn’t like that. It has been developed using a new technique allowing it to enter into genetic code of a person tampering with the essence of our being, our DNA supposedly stimulating it into creating anti-bodies. We don’t know the side effects of all this. This is the first objection and second it has not been tasted enough. Typically, it make take up to Thirty years to bring a vaccine to market, testing it thoroughly. It took on average ten years for all classic vaccines to be thoroughly tested before they were brought to market. And there is a certain vaccine which went through thirty years testing procedures before it was approved for the market. And now in a few months only, something which has not been made by using this technology before, we are called to do it. But the companies say ‘we take no responsibility over any side effects’ and they won’t if after let’s say four years people die one after the other. The same goes for medications or any drug. I don’t know if you remember a certain medication which was prescribed to pregnant women, thalidomide https://helix.northwestern.edu/article/thalidomide-tragedy-lessons-drug-safety-and-regulation which was marketed in Europe a few years ago and pregnant women would take it (for their morning sicknesses) and as a result their babies suffered severe deformities. The had no arms or legs etc. see? They trusted their Doctors and thousands of such deformed kids were born. So it is not an easy thing to say, ‘I will do it’, because this might affect yourself, your children and everyone around. Because we have no idea what the consequences will be. Do you understand? But you may ask, didn’t anything prevent these women from taking this drug? No, because they hastened to take it, thinking it would relieve them and they took it. Yes, but what happened later? So we don’t need to rush in such matters. Even more so because we have a testimony of Saint Paisios. It is in the second volume called “Spiritual awakening” published by the nuns of the Monastery of Theologos in Souroti (Thessaloniki), you can find it on page 181, volume II. The Saint talks about a vaccine and that a seal will follow this vaccine and here is the most important thing. The ones who want to vaccinate us have openly said they are thinking of installing a digital certificate which will be carved in the body in some way, probably using laser beams, which will be indelible. And a certain machine will be able to read this seal and certify that you have been vaccinated thus allowing you to do what they want to let you do like getting in a supermarket, travel etc. This certificate MIGHT BE the seal, I mean the seal of the Antichrist, the one St John the Theologian talks about which a Christian should never accept, it is a denial of Christ. This is the most serious reason why we should refuse, Of course, all the possible side effects too. Many scientists claim that this vaccine may interfere with our DNA and change the person and we don’t know the outcome, man will not be what we know anymore. He will be genetically modified. Q.—Do you think that we haven’t reached the era of the seal, do you know when it is?
A—THIS MAY BE A REHEARSAL. We don’t know. But we do know that the Greeks are a target for being Orthodox. Doesn’t it surprise you how the rest of Europe are free compared to us, who live under such strict restrictions. Things are very loose in Germany. And they are allowed to go out without masks. The Supreme Court in the USA has decided to let the places of worship free, only our Churches are closed. Because the target is Orthodox Greece, the Zionists want to eliminate Orthodoxy and therefore Greece. This is why they have gathered all their firepower here against us. But Panaghia (Saint Mary) and the Saints are guarding us and the few Orthodox faithful as well. And I hope we are among them trying to keep our faith unspoiled and live in repentance, so that the devil and his instruments aren’t capable of harming us. And those who will be more affected by the virus, which can return more deadly in the future, manufactured according to their plans with greater degree of mortality, so that people die in large numbers and there is true pandemic and not like what we are living now, which isn’t a pandemic the ones who will survived the going to be guarded by the HOLY COMMUNION, the ones who receive the Body and Blood of Christ will be the survivors. So we should live the right way so as to be able to commune. This is the antidote to what ever harmful plans the devil has. Yes?
Q—There are certain people who say that the seal will be something overt(undisguised), people will be aware of what it is and they will voluntarily say yes to this seal, because a secret seal unknown to people wouldn’t be the true seal mentioned in our scriptures??—My second question is: There is a new law in Germany, I heard, which allows the police or the military to come inside your home during a pandemic and force you to be vaccinated?? In case you want to defend yourself to death, if anything like this happens to you, do you have the right to take someone’s life while you are defending yourself? Or is this wrong? What if they force you, should you just sit and accept it without defending yourself? How could we deal with such a thing?
Answer—As for your first comment that the seal is going to be overt, not secret. Well, although it will be overt, very few people will realize it, not all people, because not all people will be. Believers in Christ. Many people will be deceived even the elect nor will everyone understand that the Antichrist is truly the Antichrist. A great number of Christians will be deceived. We are talking about Christians, because all others are already deceived. It is in our holy Scriptures that even the elect will be deceived. The elect among the Christians, the chosen ones, very few will not be deceived. See how many have been deceived regarding the facades these days? People you considered very spiritual, people who were confessors or people who often went to Confession, yet they say: “Put on your masks!” Can’t they see? No, they can’t. They have been deceived. Why? Because there was no Nepsis, no spiritual alertness. When there is no nepsis, there is no discernment. A person can’t discern whether something is right or wrong. It is like someone with his eyes kept shut. Nepsis is carefulness.
How can a Christian obtain Nepsis? When he confesses his sins, when he prays, is careful and receives Holy Communion. Then he has Nepsis and is able to see if something is right or wrong. But the person who no live communion with God, may seem to be doing certain external religious duties but he is spiritually asleep. And he will fall into the devil’s trap, he will be deceived. It is something we often see these days. As for your second question, whether we should resist to death, the Holy Martyrs teach us what we should do. The Holy Martyrs never did that, I mean they never killed their executioners. We can struggle spiritually the right way so that the vaccine has no negative effect on us. You know that the Communists in Russia had their concentration camps and in them they had the dissidents, those who opposed them politically I mean and also the Christians. And all these prisoners had to go through psychotherapy, they were given psychotropic drugs so as to forcefully make them change their beliefs and they were making experiments in Clinics. These concentration camps had psychiatric hospitals in them and they were forcefully giving them drugs in order to alter their personality. And there was a very pious Russian woman, and although they were giving her drugs all day. They were all stunned, unable to understand why she was not affected. This woman was CONSTANTLY PRAYING: “Lord JESUS CHRIST have mercy on me”. No matter what they were giving her, it had no effect on her whatsoever… Do you understand?
This is the power of Christ. Doesn’t Christ say: if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; Doesn’t Christ say this? He says that even if the true believers drink something deadly, it will not harm them. Some Saints were given poison to drink and it had no effect on them. And then their executioners tried the poison and died at once. But the Saints, having made the SIGN OF THE CROSS said the Jesus prayer, and if they couldn’t use their hands, they used their eyes of their tongue to make the sign of the cross. And nothing would harm them. See? But even if I am forced to be vaccinated and I am in danger of dying because of it, I have the responsibility, I am innocent before the eyes of the Lord. Because I was violently forced to do it… whatever is forcefully done against you, you can’t be blamed. You are responsible for whatever you do willingly. Then it doesn’t count as a betrayal against Christ, or that you accepted the seal. Like in the first years while there were persecutions, a lot of Christians unmarried women were raped by the idolaters but the Church listed them among the Virgins, because what happened was with the use of violence.
Every time we do the sign of the cross, it shoots arrows to the enemy the devil. Before our feet touch the ground when we wake up in the morning, do the sign of the Cross.
This is a story of Sunday school students who are 10 year old. The Sunday school servants asked the students, how do we know God is real? How do we know God works in our lives? How do we know that that the Orthodox faith is true?
One of the kids responded, I will tell you how I know. Then he said I used to get nightmares and I decided every night, I am going to do the sign of the cross on every single wall of my bedroom every night. And he says, ever since I have done that I never had another nightmare.
The Sunday school Servant passed that story on to others and it got to people who are not Orthodox or non-believers. After a while, someone told the Sunday School Servant that they know a little girl who is not a Christian who heard this story of the kid, cut a cross out of a piece of paper and put it under her pillow and her nightmare went away too.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. One God. Amen.
There is more to death than we usually think about. Death has been defeated by Christ and that is what we celebrate in Easter. But what is the purpose of death? Why God allowed it to happen? Why did He allow it to go on for so long before Christ came in? And why does it still happen to us after Christ came? What is going on with physical death?
If we read Genesis 3 very carefully, the story of Adam and Eve being expelled from Paradise, God is the one who hands humanity over to death. He does it for a particular reason not as punishment. It is not the death penalty. God speaks to His heavenly counsel and says man has become like one of us knowing good and evil. It is not good that he should eat the tree of life and live forever in this state.
What is in this state? It is not knowing good and evil. Knowing good and evil is a phrase that is used for wisdom and maturity all throughout the Old Testament. A Child gets to a certain age and they know good from evil, before that they don’t really know. He can’t live forever with this knowledge. There would have come a time when God would have given that knowledge but they were not ready for it. The state He is referring to is rebellion. Genesis 3 is the first spiritual rebellion.
The Serpent/devil is rebelling right there too. The devil and certain quantity of angels have rebelled against God. And there fate is sealed. Why? They don’t get to repent because they are immortal. Because they live forever. They can’t change or repent. So when God looks at humanity, after Adam and Eve have joined the devil in rebellion says it is not good to live in this state. He is saying it because He doesn’t want Adam and Eve to end up like the devil. They would have been immortal rebels against God just like the demons. God didn’t want that because He loves humanity. He also didn’t want that because that is what the devil was trying to do. The devil was trying to destroy humanity out of envy.
God wasn’t going to let the devil succeed. So Adam and Eve are cast out of Paradise into this present world, and their bodies change and they become mortal. Being mortal, they now are going to die. But this opens up this life in this world gives them an opportunity to repent. It is a gift God gives us that He didn’t give the demons. He gave us a chance to change, repent and turn back.
Both of the Parables of the Sheep and the Goat and in the book of Revelation it says the Lake of fire, the punishment “Hell” was created for the devil and his angels not for human beings. But if human beings refuse to repent of their rebellion and continued to side in their rebellion with the devil, they share their fate. This life in this world, and everything Christ did in the incarnation are is that we might not meet that same fate.
This is why even though Christ has defeated death, we still die. We still repent. In fact the message of the Gospel starts with “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand”. We still have this great opportunity to repent.
If we understand death in this way, that death gives us this mortal life and this mortal life is a gift that should change how we see death in the Scriptures and in our own lives.
Many times we see someone dying as the worst thing that could happen to them. Is it? Christ says not. Christ says don’t fear the person who can kill your body. We look at the Martyrs and say their death is glorious and beautiful. Why? Because their physical death marks the completion of their physical life of repentance and faithfulness. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Saints. Psalm 116:15 So in the case of the righteous, it is a beautiful thing but in the case of the wicked, it is the end result. Saint Paul says the wages of sin is death. The person had this opportunity and this life and they squandered it. They chose to hate God and continue to rebel against God instead of repenting.
When some one dies at a young age, Book of Wisdom refers to in the short time they have completed a long time because it is wisdom not gray hair that is the glory of a human being. Many times someone dying at a younger age is dying at a younger age because the work that God needed you do in their life is done. It is exactly what the Book of Wisdom is trying to tell us. Dying at a young age is not necessarily a curse. Dying at an old age sometimes could be a curse. This should be how we see death and this life is all about.
The fear of God is not at odds with the grace of God. So what is the fear of God? Essentially, there are two sorts of fear. There is an ungodly fear and Godly fear. The key point about Ungodly fear is that this drives you from God. Genesis 3:10 Adam is afraid and so he hid. There is the ungodly fear that drives you from God. This is the fear that the Israelite’s have in Sinai hearing the trumpets, they draw back in fear. This is a fear of the rebel. The fear of being exposed and so they run. They have a fear that drives them away from God. And this is ungodly fear. It comes from not knowing God. Therefore fear and doubt are regularly connected in scripture. Wrong fear being the cause of unbelief. Revelation 21 puts fearful and faithless together and says their portion is in the lake that burns which is the second death. Where The spirit of God produces a fear of God, that drives us to God. The devil’s work is precisely this to promote the fear of God that makes people flee. So we Christians must ask ourselves these questions.
Do we have fears that make us question whether there was ever a work of grace?
Do these fears make us question whether we doubt there is any comfort from the word and Spirit of God?
Do these fears keep us back from taking hold of the promise of salvation by Jesus Christ?
Do these fears tend to the hardening of our hearts and making us desperate?
If we answer yes to these questions then there is no grace in it. For these cannot be the natural effects of the workings of the spirit of God. These are not His doings.
On the other hand, Godly fear is the fear the Spirit produces in our hearts. Jeremiah 32:38 They shall be my people and I will be their God, I will give them one heart and one way that they may fear me forever for their own good and their children after them. So the Spirit puts the fear of me in Verse 40 their heart that they may not turn from Me. That is the Godly fear the Spirit produces. The fear that draws us to God and keeps us from wandering away from God. And clearly this Spirit induces fear is not merely about fear of punishment that we might be punished if we wander away because the fear is associated with all the good that He does for them in Jeremiah 33. They are overwhelmed by His graciousness. No faith means no fear of God. Devil’s faith means devils fear. Godly fear flows from a sense of Love and Kindness of God to the soul. Where there is a sense of hope of the kindness and mercy of God by Jesus Christ, there can be none of these fear. Godly fear flows from a sense of hope of mercy from God by Jesus Christ. Nothing can lay a stronger obligation upon the heart to fear God than a sense of or hope in mercy. This begets true tenderness of heart, true Godly softness of spirit. This truly endears the affection to God and in this true tenderness to God lies the very essence of the fear of the Lord. In other words Fear defines true Love for God. It does not balance it out. It defines it. We are called to love God. That word love we can mistake it thinking it means the other loves that we have. But the nature of love is defined by its object. Love for God is not right unless it knows God in all His perfections. You could think it is the grace of God that makes us love God and that the holiness of God makes us tremble. But not so. God’s holiness and majesty does not lessen our love for God. It shapes it. Godly fear is love defined. The fear of God is the right overwhelmed response to God’s full revelations of Himself. Godly fear shapes our love for God.
How can we grow in this Holy fear?
This fear comes from knowing God. Particularly through His word.
Deuteronomy 6:1 This is the commandment your Lord God command me to teach you…that you may fear the Lord your God..You your sons
So learning from the word of God we drink in the fear of God. We drink in this right conception of who God is and so develop a right overwhelmed response to Him knowing who He is. God’s glory and majesty like light shining into darkness, they expose us. In encounter with God, not only grow to know Him but in His light we grow to know ourselves better too. Therefore an encounter with God must create a trembling at who He is and horror at who we are. In His light we see His holiness and our unholiness. We see ourselves. But this pain of seeing ourselves truly is a sweet pain to the believer for we want our sin blasted away. If God shall come to you indeed and visit you with forgiveness of sins that visit will remove the guilt but it will increase the sense of thy filth, it will increase your apprehension of your filth. And the sense of this that God has forgiven filthy sinner will make you both rejoice and tremble. You rejoice and tremble. A blessed confusion will cover your face. There is a fearful response to God His glory and grace. Rejoicing at His holiness, His graciousness and Goodness and trembling at it and trembling at our filthiness all at the same time. There is a relationship between fear and joy. The right fear of God is intimately related to joy in scripture. Fear is closely concerned with the glory of God. Revelation 15:4 “Who will not fear O Lord and glorify Your name.” The fear of God is concerned with the glory of God and enjoys it. True praise is full of a right fear. Psalm 2 Rejoice with trembling. That is the right rejoicing before this God and yet in Nehemiah 1:11 “O Lord let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delights to fear Your name. As fear defines our love for God, it defines or shapes our joy in God. Saints take a pleasure in fearing the Lord. There is a delight in it. This fear shapes what sort of joy we have. This is key as we talk about our enjoyment of God. Our enjoyment of God is shaped by the object of our joy. How then is this fear of the Lord so life savingly useful? Proverbs 1:7 tells us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. It means you do not have a true knowledge of God, You do not know God if you don’t fear Him. You do not have a true knowledge of yourself if you do not fear Him. The fear of God drives the believer to want God and to want to know God more. The fear of God shapes our learning. Without the fear of God all our abilities are a liability. The fear of God purifies us. Isaiah 8 verse 11 talks about how the fear of the Lord brings strength to His servants….let Him be your fear
The fear of God is not the animal -like fear of this world. Our fear is like that, and we must strive to conquer it by the grace of God. Such fear is from Hades. Our life is filled with fear. We fear what tomorrow will bring, what the future has in store for us. That is an animal-like fear.
The fear of God is when you love Him, when you truly love Him with all your heart and you strive never to offend or sadden Him– not only with your deeds, actions, and words, but also with your thoughts. You try to please Him in everything you do or say. That is the fear of God — the fear of doing anything that might sadden or offend our parent.
Man is made in the image and likeness of God. God is infinite and we are finite. He is the Creator and we are creature. So we are made to commune with Him. We are made to transcend the imminent. We are to go beyond just the earth. We are to commune with the infinite, the eternal and immortal God. But the Theology in the West says that communion with God is the reward for the future, because they separated in their theology the supernatural life of God from the natural life of man in which the communion was cut short because man lost grace until the redemption of Christ came. So what we need to do is reconnect that but in Western theology they say it is when you pass this life that connection is made unlike the Eastern (Orthodox Theology).
In the Orthodox Church, that connection is always there because there is the Kingdom of God present through the Holy Spirit and the Church is a reflection of that not a replacement or a preparation only for the future. So the future is now to put it plainly in Orthodoxy.
As Christ said, in Luke 17:20-21 “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
But the Western theology and all of us people living in this have a need to commune with God now. We can’t just have a waiting period for the reward. We must have the presence of a person in and through the Liturgical worship and the theology of the Church now. But what do you do if you have a system where man is considered autonomous or independent even without grace and he can live well in the natural world and merely wait for the reward of the supernatural world in the future? What is man to do living in this type of theology? We still have the impulse to be with God now. Here is what happened in the West as a result. So instead of having an open door to the Kingdom which is ever present, the space or the natural place that is void becomes something that we try to make consciously or unconsciously governmental, economically, politically or socially into a facsimile (an exact copy) of the kingdom of God because we need to transcend ourselves. We need to give ourselves to a greater thing. We need to have meaning and expression, which goes beyond our immediate needs. We cannot suffer from a lack of meaning in our lives.
And then here is the interesting thing. What we have done if we have made Utopia into kingdoms because that kingdom of God is theologically closed off to us. There is no where for the transcendent urge of intuition to go there. But man is going to create a secular kingdom. He is going to have ultimate fulfillment somehow to try and make it in the world. That is where you get ideology to replace theology. That is where you get the isms’ (Communism, Fascism, capitalism, socialism) all these isms that really aren’t. They can’t really give you the whole meaning of that because only the Kingdom of God can do that. But we keep trying to reinvent how we are going to reach complete happiness. That is what modern society is structured to create enough distractions for us so that we can think and we can find a paradise of utopia in the natural setting. We keep expecting from politicians to do only what God can do. We keep expecting from social structures and governmental policies what only God can give. We invent new things all the time that we think are going to be the one thing that will make us happy and fulfilled. But happiness and fulfillment can only come through the penetration of the kingdom of God unto the earth which ideally in Orthodox theology we have not lost being a reflection of through earthly things of the heavenly reality.
Man needs a vertical trajectory for meaning in life. When he turns it horizontal that is when you get in trouble and you try to make a religion out of society. That is when you get in trouble with all these isms’. That is what creates cults. Orthodoxy is rather immune to cults except when people use this western mentality to intrude the Eastern theology and then you have a mix between cultist activity and forms and then Orthodoxy. That is why it is a very good idea to be humble in the Church. We should not be carried away by perfection of theology either. Don’t think that you can apply everything to someone that comes to you.
Overall, Man needs to transcend himself. In order to find meaning, he has to have God to give him meaning. The reason is because he is made for that. God became man so that man might become God by grace. We are not content merely to have a terrestrial (relating to earth) life. We must have a celestial meaning. We must have a heavenly goal. We must have a heavenly home. We have to go there. If that is closed off from us or if it becomes merely secular, we are going to try to make out of this the best thing we have. That temptation of trying to make out of the earth what only the heaven can be is apocalyptic.