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can I honestly feel that I love another person, am showing them active love and service, if I feel that they are so different, that they are beyond redemption, that they simply harbor mal-intent towards us? I certainly cannot do that.
Do not be rude.
You do not know what fire power is behind them.
My point is: I agree with what you are doing, and if I were in your shoes, I would have probably done the same thing...
Greetings in our Lord! I hope that this message finds you well in Christ. Permit me to offer my humble opinion. It seems to me that, in light of recent events, we are all becoming a bit defensive. This is certainly to be expected, but I feel that it is prudent that we stay focused on who we are: Orthodox Christians. I am first and foremost a child of God, by the spirit of adoption, ever-gained through the grace of Baptism, and continually striving towards perfection, if I so wish to incline myself. It is God's very own commandment that we should love one another. I will say, from personal experience, that it is very difficult to love those who have done me harm, towards those who have bad intentions towards me or my family, and so on. There are times when someone has insulted one of us in our lives, and we see these people and feign kindness, all the while, working up an anger within ourselves. It is very difficult to love someone when anger exists within you towards them. It is my fear that, if we begin to distance ourselves from other human beings, other people who were made in the image of God, that our minds will run away with us and we will succumb to this anger, which in turn, leads to judgment, wrath, and hatred. This is not what we are called to do as Christians. The commandment for forgiveness is a difficult one, but one that we as Christians must practice, nonetheless. This is true forgiveness that I speak of. We certainly don't learn how to do this overnight, and with the recent events, it becomes ever-more difficult to see this as a feasible possibility. Nonetheless, we are Christians; we are called to struggle against our passionate inclinations; the life of a Christian is a struggle, both internally and externally. I do not think that we should distance ourselves from people of different beliefs or ethnicities; can I honestly feel that I love another person, am showing them active love and service, if I feel that they are so different, that they are beyond redemption, that they simply harbor mal-intent towards us? I certainly cannot do that. I do not mean to say that these people should become your closest friends, but that's not by virtue of the fact that they're Muslims. Indeed, I have several Orthodox Christian friends who are not my best friends, who I don't turn to for advice. There are, in fact, very few people who I consider to be so close to me that I seek their advice in the active manner. With that said, I still have friends that are Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Jewish. They may share different beliefs than I do, but they still have within them, in the truest sense of the word, the image of God. I do not mean to blur the lines and say that we are all just the same, this is not my intent. But I certainly must be cognizant of how loving I am towards those around me.
Just my two cents.
Pray for my weaknesses, and for the strength of the Orthodox Church,
Matthew 19:26: "But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible"
Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me"
The path towards achieving this is the actual Christian life. It is not enough that I simply call myself Christian and live my life as I deem fit. The life of a Christian is distinct from the paths that are outlined by most of the rest of the world. It is this challenge with which I must struggle with daily, otherwise, I am only fooling myself in thinking that I am a Christian. Our beloved Church Fathers have left us a great deal of wisdom regarding how is it that we are to attain the heights of perfection. We must realize, first and foremost, that this will only happen by the grace of God, but I certainly must be attuned to His will in order to achieve this. There are many books that are filled with the knowledge of the Fathers on this particular topic, but I will leave it up to each of us to speak to our fathers of confession and spiritual elders to make the recommendations for our specific situations.
Know that it is not a matter of my "convincing" myself of this love as though it were an obligation, but my willingness to accept God and live according to His commandments.
Pray for my weaknesses,
Maybe it would help if we looked at our weakness, at our unworthiness of the great blessing of being Chrstians, having been baptized, buried with Him and now alive in Him through His mercy and His grace...
Maybe it would help if we were clothed in humility instead of self-righteousness and if we looked at the 'others' as poor, vulnerable people, thirsting for peace and love, yet unable to find them because they are far from Christ.. How much more compassionate, how much more loving should we be toward those people who live in darkness because they haven't (yet) seen the true Light?
Our Lord has asked us to be the salt of the earth, we are to show the world who He is, how He loves, how He cares.. We must show kindness, compassion and love and as we have received freely, so also should we give...
Our Lord interacted with the outcasts of society, He talked to the Samaritan woman in all kindness and gentleness, not judging her but opening His arms for her, showing her the road which leads to His grace..
He praised the good Samaritan who performed good deeds as opposed to the Jews who wouldn't even stop to help a fellow Jew (keep in mind the Samaritans could be considered 'enemies' of the Jews, since there was practically no interaction between them and they did not get along very well to say the least)
Our Lord praised the faith of the Roman Centurion (again the Romans were no 'friends' of the Jews..)
Our Lord lets the sun shine on the wicked and the righteous alike, He himself loved and loves the one's who reject Him, how much more should we love those whom we don't agree with? Our Lord has shown us the way, He has taught us the means of attaining that, by prayer and fasting, by humility, by submitting ourselves under His will..
May God enlighten us with a deeper knowledge of His infinite love...
I have a proposition to make (this is the part where Maged pops out of no where): We should all change our tasbeha usernames to "childoforthodoxy". You can be childoforthodoxy1, since you thought of it first. I can be childoforthodoxy2.. and so on.
It will be a little confusing when trying to differentiate who's who, but other than that, I think it's a brilliant idea.
Who's with me?
I think at this time of chaos, we have the BIGGEST opportunity to spread the name of Christ. Not by preaching or keeping ourselves to only hang around other Christians, but to live in the world and display as much love as Christ did on earth.
His love was so appealing to some, they followed Him without hearing a word of His preaching. We must be the same, we are the ones who need to share this love in our daily actions and motives.
A very important concept to my spiritual life for the last few months has been the idea of the 5th Gospel.
"There are 5 Gospels to be shared with the world. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and You. It's likely people won't read the first 4, and you may be the only Gospel they ever read."
We have to be living lives vibrantly loving all around us. And it is by this that we may win people for His Kingdom.
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8)
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:12)
Salvation is always God's goal, no matter what the circumstances. We must always be His hands and feet here on earth.
To Him be the Glory.