Active members are being saved and they are being made like Christ. What does an active member look like?
- An active member of the Church stays in the Church. A good example is the story of Doubting Thomas. We all can somehow relate to his story especially people who are thinkers. Because anyone who really thinks about their faith is going to experience doubt sooner or later. Saint Gregory the Theologian says that the Trinity is a cross or a crucifixion for the mind. It is not going to make sense. One and three, virgin and mother, human and divine…How does this work? It is a crucifixion for the mind. So when Thomas hears that Jesus is risen from the dead, it is a crucifixion for his mind. It is impossible. How could this happen? But what does Thomas do eight days later? The Disciples are together and Thomas was with them and Jesus appears in their midst. Despite his doubt, he stays in the Church. He hangs in there with the community of God’s people. We all may not have enough faith. We may not be a very good Christian. But Salvation is not based only on me. Salvation is not only me and Jesus but it is us and Jesus. Salvation is of the body. We may get an infection with one of our hands. Unless, it really gets bad, we don’t cut it off. We hang in there and the body heals the infection. We stay in the Church as someone who needs to be saved not as a Savior. One of the mistakes, some people make is that they see a problem in the Church and say that they are the ones God is raising to fix it. The Church heals itself by the grace of the Holy Spirit. We are called to be saved in the Church not to be saviors. Once we internalize this, life becomes much more peaceful. We focus on us being saved. Saint Seraphim of Sarov says acquire peace and a thousand around you will be saved. Without us knowing it, the Holy Spirit will flow through us to save thousands of people that is we acquire the Holy Spirit.
- Active members turn to God as their Father, turn to Jesus as their Savior and they turn to the Holy Spirit and are filled with the Holy Spirit. We also turn to our brothers and sisters as family.
- We love and seek salvation in a particular community or in a particular Church family in which love, service and obedience are worked out. Saint James said how can you say you love God whom you have not seen when you do not love your brother whom you have seen. It does not mean that somebody who is abusive needs to be tolerated. We have to speak the truth but it does mean that it has to be worked out. We can’t say, oh, they are all a bunch of hypocrites over there. Since this is our family, we have to work out in a particular community. There are no lone rangers Christians. Even hermits are connected to a community.
- We must be engaged in a therapeutic program. In other words, we have to be actively seeking the salvation of our souls not in the sense of saying, oh, Jesus, do something and save me. The fact is Jesus already do something. What we have to do is engage the therapeutic program. Therapy is the word used by the Church Fathers. Most of what we call sin that is most of what we recognize as sin in terms of our outward actions is really not so much sin but the manifestation of the sickness inside us. What is the sickness? We don’t glorify God, we are not thankful, our thoughts are futile and thus our hearts are darkened. To sin less, we have to heal our souls. Classically, it is through confession and forgiveness. But confession and forgiveness are bookends to a whole process. It starts with fasting (asceticism) not only with food but the beginning to say no to ourselves that old man inside us. It crucifies our self-will and egoism. This thought that we know what is good for us. The third thing is prayer. The inability to stop our passions will drive us to prayer because we don’t have the power to stop it. The seed of repentance is in the fruit of sin. When we fall, the very consequences of that sin can drive us to repentance. The torment can be the very pain that drives us to the Father like the Prodigal Son.