“His divinity parted not from His humanity for a single moment nor a twinkling of an eye…”
Excerpt from the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil
Temper tantrums – a parent’s worst nightmare. If you have children, temper tantrums are unfortunately an inevitable part of life. You don’t have to teach a child how to throw a temper tantrum; there is something instinctual within them that tells them what to do when they don’t get what they want.
Cry…kick…scream…yell…roll around on the floor…call as much attention as you can to yourself and your extremely embarrassed dad who just wants to know where the cereal aisle is so he can get his Lucky Charms and get back home as quickly as he can.
Temper tantrums are something that all children know how to do.
But you know what? It’s not just children; we adults do the same thing. We may not be so obvious about it, but if we’re honest, we often find ourselves throwing temper tantrums with our heavenly Father when He doesn’t give us what we want or when He asks us to do something that we don’t want to do.
“Forgive my enemy? Why should I? I don’t want to and You can’t make me!”
“Control my appetite by fasting? But I don’t feel comfortable or happy when I fast, and You want me to be happy, don’t You God?”
“Take up my cross? Deny myself? Forsake all that I have? God, how could I even think about doing those things when my life is so hard already? Don’t you love me and care about me? Don’t you care about my happiness???”
I hate to say this because I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else is, but the truth that WE HAVE BECOME SOFT. We’ve become weak. We’re spoiled little brats and we complain whenever God asks us to do anything that isn’t easy. We have somehow managed to turn the tables on this relationship with God – we think we are the master and He is the servant… and it’s His job to make us “happy” and “comfortable” and to make our lives “easy.”
But is that why Jesus came? To make us happy? To make our lives comfortable and easy?
It’s often said that faulty thinking leads to faulty behavior. This behavior – thinking that it’s God job to make us happy and solve all our problems – comes from an improper understanding of the word SYNERGY.
What is synergy? Isn’t it just some overused buzz word in corporate America? What does it have to do with God and our relationship with Him?
Synergy is not a business term; it means “cooperation” or “the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements.”
In the spiritual context, synergy refers to the cooperation of work between man and God. It is the means by which we live our lives – not separate/apart from God, but also not fully relying on God to the point where we have no responsibility. Synergy means that there’s always a “God part” and a “me part” in everything.
For example, the Bible teaches us that we should “struggle against sin” to the point of bloodshed (Hebrews 12:4). Jesus said that we must “deny ourselves and take up our cross” (Matthew 16:24) and that we must also walk the “narrow path” (Matthew 7:14). St. Paul teaches that we should “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).
All of these verses imply a life of struggling and difficulty; not comfort and ease. But why? Why should we struggle? Do we need to struggle? Can’t God just save us without our struggling? Why put us through the effort?
One extreme says that there is no need to struggle; we need just to trust in God and let Him take care of it. In fact, struggling is actually an insult to the grace of God. As long as God is full of grace, then our actions don’t matter. It’s all in His hands and it’s His responsibility to take care of our salvation. This is the extreme of NEGLIGENCE.
The other extreme is the opposite; it says that we need to trust in ourselves and do it all on our own. This extreme minimizes the work of God and puts the burden on our own shoulders. This is what the Pharisees thought; they thought they could earn heaven on their own. This is the extreme of SELF-RELIANCE.
The proper understanding is not one of either negligence or self-reliance, but rather one of SYNERGY – the understanding that both God and man are working together to get results.
This synergy is most apparent when looking at the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ – fully God and fully human – working together in one Person in perfect harmony and synergy. That was the meaning of the quote at the top from the Liturgy of St. Basil – that “His divinity parted not from His humanity for a single moment nor a twinkling of an eye…”
How did salvation come to mankind? It came through the synergy between divinity (God) and humanity (man) which is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Without this synergy, there would be no salvation. A man alone could not save us. And God working without the response of man’s free will not bring salvation either.
We need both. God has a part and we have a part. We need God to do His part (not too worried about this) and we need to cooperate with His work by doing our part as well (this part is much more likely to be the bottleneck).
In other words, we need to get up off the floor, stop our temper tantrum and cooperate with God. That’s synergy!