Sunday 7 July 2024

Fr Georgios Lekkas: CHILDREN OF GOD

God sent His Son into the world so that each of us might become a child of God (Gal. 3:23ff.). Hence our adoption by the Heavenly Father is dependent on our union with His Son. Christ invites each of us to unite with Him, first and foremost by following Him in keeping His commandments, as His Disciples were the first to do (Matt. 4:18ff.).

It is in keeping Christ's commandments that we become increasingly convinced that He is indeed the Son of God; thus we progress from faith to faith. Faith is not something you simply possess or lack; it is a ladder leading into the Mystery of the God-Man Christ, with steps which range from one to infinity.

The Apostles lived alongside Christ for many years, during which their faith grew steadily, becoming immense on the day of Pentecost, as a gift from above. It continued to grow within them in the Holy Spirit throughout their lives.

By keeping Christ's commandments, our faith in Him increases daily, because we see that by doing what He instructed us to do, namely loving God and our neighbour, each day we shed a little of the ‘old man’, whom we have usually reestablished within ourselves since the time we were baptised as infants.

Shedding the ‘old man’ is for most of us a long and painful process, because keeping Christ's commandments usually involves many setbacks. The more we struggle to break free from the spirit of this world, the more our longing for God causes us pain.

God educates us by allowing us the freedom to reject His call or to respond to it inadequately. Our suffering thus arises from conscious or unconscious resistance to the work of our adoption.

Only when we realise that the main obstacle to our adoption by God is ourselves, do we begin to hate the wickedness we have reestablished within ourselves in the time since our infant baptism. We understand that for us there is no greater punishment than what we inflict on ourselves.

When a person realises that the greatest danger facing them comes from within and their whole self cries to the Lord for Him to save them from themselves, it becomes possible for God to free us from the ‘old man’, unite us with Christ, and through Christ make us His children.

For most of us, until the end of our lives, the joy of our union with the Lord of Glory will continue to depend on the intensity of our repentance for the errors we make during our spiritual journey. However the complete cessation of suffering constitutes what is called ‘apatheia’ in Orthodox Tradition. It is only given to a few and results from union with Christ which is so powerful that nothing can interrupt its intensity.

The Lord's Disciples achieved union with Christ and thus became children of God, thanks to the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Since then, the spiritual journey that begins with keeping Christ's commandments and faith in Him leads to union with Him and adoption by God the Father through the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist and all the Sacraments of the Church, activated by the Holy Spirit. When the believer sees activated within him the Gifts of the Holy Spirit received during the Sacrament of Chrismation, he understands, filled with fear and love, that he has already begun to unite with Christ and receive the spirit of adoption.

Second Sunday of Matthew, 7.7.24

Archpriest Dr. Georgios Lekkas is a priest

of the Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Belgium.

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