Saturday, July 14, 2012

Reality's exile under relativity's rule

The Christian life must be one that is lived in Truth. By dwelling in Truth we are set free, as Christ said, “if you abide in my words you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (Jn 8:31). This experience of truth is not simply that of intellectual ascent to higher learning or ideas. It is not merely the state of being enlightened beyond one's contemporaries. Truth is an encounter with the Living God, not according to our own limited impressions but according to the boundless eternity of revelation. Truth is an attribute of God, it is safe to say that only God is True. God is Truth, in Him is no falsehood.

The ability of man to live truly, or I will also say, live in reality, is based upon his willingness to abide in God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Man's choice to willfully dwell outside of God, or in a self-idealized concept of God, is a choice to live in falsehood and unreality. Life is sapped of its essence, for God is Life. Man, by refusing the Giver and Holder of Life, wanders in a land of shadows. The flickering vapors of humanist reason are taken to be objective guides, yet they lead in the end to relative ambiguity. In taking these shadows to be real, man loses sight of what is true Reality. Man then becomes at home in interpretative obscurity. He is comfortable with an interrogative tone because everything is shadow.

Roaming in this vaporous state man concludes with himself that nothing is really real. Having rejected Reality, man accepts existence in non-reality. He then gives his heart over to the treasures of corruption which whisper melodic deceit in his ear. He becomes a blissful slave to his own cage of unknowing, for having refused the light of truth he sojourns in darkness. In this stupor, he gropes not for eternal true reality but for subjective spirituality; structure-phobic individualism which dreads authority greater than self. Who then can speak with conviction when nothing has substance? Who can proclaim what is true, if truth has no essentiality beyond micro individual borders? Each individual becomes a citadel of his own truth-for-me. The dismal fire of self-proclamation is set forth as the light of reality. No matter how much we love the glow of our own intellect, its flickering hue is not eternal truth. Many times, individualism is given the title of “God,” and self is proclaimed with pious zeal under this name. God then takes on as many faces as there are individuals. God becomes relative.

Yet, man's calling, that for which man was created and for which he exists, is to abide in true Light. God is Light. In this light the shadows of falsehood fade away, and the evanescent nature of self-existence is clearly seen. In moving toward Christ the Lord, a person's eyes are purified and he begins to tread in the endless fields of freedom. Freedom is not in a multitude of choice but in a singularity of clear vision. A man is free when he perceives that for which he is created: fellowship with the Living God.
In this light the delusion of the former phantoms is acutely perceived. Truth has been experienced, not in an abstract way but personally in the Hypostasis of Jesus Christ the Living God.
Knowledge of Truth is based on the experience of vision and faith grounded upon the eternity of truth in the community of revelation - the Body of Christ. For the vision of Christ leads to faith, and “faith is the subsistence of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Faith, then, is the vision of reality. It is the proof of Reality which those choosing the darkness of the messiah-self do not see. “Faith...brings those things not seen to the same full assurance with what are seen” (St. John Chrysostom).

A man abiding in experience of Christ acquires authority to proclaim with the Apostle John: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life – the Life was manifest, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us” (1 Jn 1: 1-2). Truth is alive and it is our calling to have fellowship with Him, to touch Him, to taste of Him, to live in Him. We may converse with Truth Himself; even more so we are called to commune with Him according to His revelation (not according to our “likes” and “dislikes”).
The person who has experienced Christ Jesus may then speak to the uncertainty of humanity's self-imposed ephemeral existence with its self-created messiahs. This is authority which is beyond strong belief in one's own opinions. It is authority based in vision and the corporate experience of eternity in the Body of Christ; for even those who choose the shadow lands may ascribe authority to the phantoms they put their trust in. Too many times we men are convinced of that which is not true, that which is simply base on the individual experience of fragmentation in fallen existence. The antidote to the relative perceptions of self-imposed vagueness is the concrete participation of Life in Christ. This life has been a cohesive reality from Pentecost until this day, the Holy Spirit has preserved it whole; it has never been in need of reformation. True authority is not simply conviction, but the experience of, and the willingness to conform 'self' to the Truth.

Permeated with Christ reality is known: only in Him do we “live move and have our being” (Acts 17:22). From this experience of life a man cries with the psalmist, “O bless our God, you nations, and make the voice of His praise to be heard, Who has established my soul in life, and permits not my feet to be shaken. For Thou has proved us, O God, and by fire has Thou tried us even as silver is tried by fire” (Ps. 65: 8-10).
The vocation of a Christian is to abide in and proclaim the revelation of Jesus Christ, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). Such a one is endowed with authority to call out to those living in darkness and shadow: come abide in the light! This authority derives not from his own firm opinion of what he says, but in the fact that he abides in and experiences as true the timeless reality of Christ Jesus the true God, Who has no shadow of change but is eternally the same in His epiphany. Faith which is in constant change and flux reflects not an Eternal God but a mortal creation. True faith is unchanging in its essence because in reality it is a reflection of the Unchanging God, "the same yesterday today and forever" (cf. Heb 13:8).

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Same To All

"We should have the same attitude toward all of our fellow men. We must not classify people, saying, 'This one I like about so-and so I do not.' By doing so, you will have declared war on the other person and that person will not tolerate you. Even though you may not have given any outward sign of dislike by word or gesture, you have done so by your thoughts and that is enough.

We Christians have put on Christ at Holy Baptism. We have put on God, and God is love. How is it that, having become one with God at Holy Baptism, we wage war with Him? How do we wage war By our thoughts! We emit negative thoughts to our fellow men."

Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica