By Nicholas Damascus
Come, journey with me to the original intent and purpose of what God wants for us: to become like him. God became man so that man would become “god like” (John 10: 34, Matt 5: 45). We are the sons and daughters of God (John 1: 12-13).
For man to live in compatibility and harmony with creation, fellow man, and God, and for him to understand God’s personas, it is important that man understand how he was designed. In order to understand relationship within the context of Christianity, we must first define and uncover some of the basics.
Let us go back to the original and oldest profession of Christian faith, Eastern Christianity, and identify the intent and purpose of what Christ, the apostles, and the fathers of the church asked of us.
In Eastern Christianity, instead of man searching for God, God is searching for man. Man is not content with simply a justification of being saved, but rather searches for the deification of his existence. Before I go too far, let us begin with what Christianity is not.
Christianity is not a religion, but a way of life. A religion (in the context of Christianity) is an interpretation of the Christian faith in one’s own bias or philosophy. Bias is not necessarily a negative thing, but whose standards and traditions can be used to ultimately judge these biases? Many religions teach you to do your duties just like the pagans did. We went through the motions, but our hearts didn’t change.
We can define Christianity as the revelation to man of who God is. He is love; the truth, the way, and the light; the bread of life; the true vine; the door; the resurrection; the light of the world; etc. Christianity is Christ and his church (the body of believers). So to understand all of this, let me begin to reveal as much as possible about God, without becoming a heretic.
Let us start with who and what is God. We can not know God, but we can understand and observe his energies, purpose, and intention for us.
We can safely define the Christian God as a community of persons in communion with one another: the Father (the origin), the Son (the begotten), and the Holy Spirit (who proceeds). Within this triune Christian God are these three co-equal persons, each one dwelling in the others by virtue of an unceasing movement of mutual love. Yet, they stay mystically undivided.
This movement of love is the life source. In 1 Corinthians 13: 2-3:
Verse 2: “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I could move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
Verse 3: “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but hath not love, it profits me nothing.”
So why have I gone to such great lengths to describe God? I have done so because we were designed to emulate the relationship that exits within the trinity with one another. This means not just in our church community, but in the community of all mankind.
Man was created in the image (love) and likeness (holiness) of this triune God (Genesis 1: 26-27). Man is created a “personal being” — one who is truly human when he loves and is loved, and one who can only be defined by these loving relationships. He cannot stand alone and be fully human, because to be human is to relate to others.
As an infant, I was baptized as an Eastern Orthodox Christian. However, I would say that becoming a Christian is a work in progress, and I often wonder would there be enough evidence to convict me of becoming a Christian. The Orthodox Church is the ancient Church that Christ and the Apostles established. It is not a religion but rather a way of life. It is not about rules and regulations but rather guide posts to make choices to transition to what we were designed to become. Becoming Orthodox is not a conversion but more so a transformation of self. It’s not about being right: it is about “right being.” In John 14:6, Christ says I am the Way (to love and serve one another), the Truth (there is only one reality), and the Life (that life source is love). I invite you to submit any topics or questions to “Ask An Eastern Orthodox Christian” on the website. Join me in finding our way back home to the original teachings of the Church. When you change the way you look at things, things change the way they look.