Saturday, July 02, 2005

Know Whose You Are

St. Paul was unashamed of the Gospel. He knew the cost of conversion. He knew the pressures of society. All of this was the case when he wrote to the following to the Church in Rome:

“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Our society is no different today than it was in the first century. Surely technology has changed and made the world a different place, but people are people—each of us is still tempted by the same temptations as were the Christians 100 years ago, 1000 years ago, and 2000 years ago. This is especially true regarding sexual sin. The acceptance (not!) of extramarital affairs, premarital relationships, idolatry, etc. was certainly different then, but the temptations to be a part of these sinful, illicit actions was no different.

St. Paul makes clear (elsewhere) that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We would surely be outraged if someone defaced our beautiful Orthodox Church or smashed or burned a sacred Icon, or somehow desecrated some holy space or object. My friends, are we equally outraged if we ourselves desecrate the very holy temple of God, our own bodies?

Society is a very poor teacher. We are no longer part of (if we ever were!) a Christian society. No show on prime time will teach us godliness. No movie in the theater will teach us holiness. No mainstream DJ will teach us chastity. To the contrary, each of these will teach you that your body is your own, that pleasure is your due, that you “deserve” whatever you want. This is not Christianity, this is hedonism, and it is dangerous—spiritually, emotionally, physically—as much in small doses as it is in large quantities. The challenges of life in the United States have been described by Christians on the other side of the planet as “almost insurmountable”.

So, know who you are. Know whose you are. Your baptism sets you apart as holy. The reception of the Holy Gifts at the Eucharist make you a living part of the Body of Christ. Therefore, as St. Paul said to Timothy, “aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” And “Fight the good fight of the faith.”

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