Well, It’s Complicated

I must admit that even as an Orthodox Priest there are some circumstances where I find it difficult to talk about my faith. I am not always as prepared as I should be to give an answer for my faith and the joy I have in my Lord Jesus. There was this time at my daughter’s kindergarten curriculum night that stands out as a particular low point. A parent who was unfamiliar with Eastern Orthodoxy simply asked me what I believed. He caught me off guard with his straight forward question. I stumbled to get much of anything out. I started with what I now affectionately refer to as the evangelistic “kiss of death.” What I should have told him was how I grew up a church kid who was nothing more that an “admirer of God.” How I simply could not figure out what Jesus had to do with God. I could have mentioned going to Young Life camp in Colorado as a 15 year old and how sad I was that my parents were divorcing and that I had gotten in so much trouble with the law and my school. I could have told this nice man how as a teenager I was surprised by the love of God when I heard about Jesus. I could have told him how my life changed when I decided to respond to the love of God in Christ Jesus by devoting myself to Him. Heck, I could have even dropped all that personal stuff and hit him hard with some serious theology. What did I say? I stuttered out, “Well, it’s complicated.” The Lord has never let me forget it. I mostly do better than I did that night.

The Lord said to his disciples, “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:23-31

Thursday, June 25, 2009 Leavetaking of the Nativity of the Forerunner John the Baptist

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7 Comments

Filed under A Good Life, Orthodox Christianity

7 responses to “Well, It’s Complicated

  1. Demetrios

    I came to Eastern Orthodoxy late, at age 50, after a life of stumbling around various faiths and finding all to be lacking continuity. When people ask why I came to this Faith, I say “This is the Church started by the dudes that hung out with Christ. I assume all other churches will be more “dude like” and less “Christ like.” I don’t intend to be irreverent, but it does seem to answer the question without a big theological discussion.

  2. Cló Mhuire

    You said what you felt at the time, even if you were taken off guard. It’s the heart God looks at and he knows yours!

  3. It IS complicated! What’s the problem? It’s also very simple. That’s the mystery. It’s God that converts people, not priests or evangelists, or even the Church. All we do is provide the ‘support infrastructure’, and the Saints provide the example of what can be achieved if you let God in.

    All He needs is that act of will: “I WILL love you, Lord”.

  4. Maybe one of my tracts would have helped?
    If not, maybe we should create one…

    http://orthotracts.org/new/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=15&Itemid=30

  5. As a fellow Orthodox believer (and person who did not grow up Orthodox), I *like* having a priest who reminds me that my faith is complex.

    But yes, as a fellow on-the-spot evangelist, at times I have the same awkward guilt that you do.

    Hindsight is always 20/20, so they say. It’s very easy to say “I should have said this” and “I should have said that” well after the fact. I suppose sometimes the best we can do is learn from our faults, limitations, and failures, confess our weaknesses and our hopes for improvement, and move on.

  6. PW

    Thanks for the honest post. I am helped by it, and the comments that followed.

  7. I’m not Orthodox; I’m Roman Catholic, but I’ve been guilty of the same problem.

    I’ve “watered down” things when of course, I abhor “watering down”.

    And my biggest guilty moment? Many years ago, I was attending Mass on occasion, was really seeking God and loved talking about “spirituality” and religious issues. My non-religious, totally secular friend’s 8-year-old daughter one day asked me to take her to church with me.

    My friend would have let her come with me; she wasn’t anti-religion, just had no faith at all but didn’t object to her children learning things.

    I remember having this sense that I should take this child with me. But she lived about 30 min away from me, so I knew I would be inconvenienced and have to get up early to take this girl to Mass. And I’d have to find maybe a church in their area.

    So I asked the child why she wanted to go? She shrugged. I asked her if she wanted to go because all her friends went to church on Sunday morning. She nodded.

    Oh, and I forgot to say that the first thing I did was ridicule her! When she first approached me I told her church was boring and when I was her age I didn’t want to go and couldn’t believe she’d want to do so!

    As long as I live, I won’t be able to forget this. Even though I wasn’t faithful, apparently I was a “light” to this little girl…and I totally shot her down. I crucified Christ, completely, in that moment.

    She’s an adult now, and as I’ve learned…not religious. So she is in my prayers, as the child I chased away from Jesus.

    Father, you may lament that you maybe didn’t measure up, but at least you didn’t deny Our Lord outright to one of the little ones He said should be able to come to Him.

    God bless you. We all struggle with the same things. No wonder God realized He had to become one of us in order to pay our debt. We can’t save ourselves.

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