This is a guest post from Louis Damani Jones - a catechumen (someone preparing to enter the church) at St. Mary and St. Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church in Maryland Heights, MO. If you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.
There’s a strong compartmentalization at work in human beings in this spiritual ice age we live in today.
“My religion is personal, not to be shared or discussed in the public sphere or liberal company…” or “this causes a struggle and conflict in my social ties and ‘non-spiritual’ relationships, and I long and seek a life devoid of this.”
Did not Christ tell us, “I came not to bring peace on Earth, but a sword?” God is the God of Peace – so how can there be a peaceful relationship where He is not? How is there a “good” culture where Good Itself is not present?
We are given the commission to preach salvation and reconciliation to the God of the Heavenly Kingdom. In those places and to those people without Him, the sword must be swung to clear a path as a machete in the dense thicket of an Amazonian rainforest.
Where is there to walk in some communities not beset by violent and ravenous beasts, or the venom of vipers and serpents, or the snare of the hunter? In these dark places, “the voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forest bare.” Yet, “how can they hear without a preacher?”
The very Son of God, in laying out His Sermon on the Mount says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” What then is being said? If the same God, the Lord, Jesus Christ, the very Son of God tells not to be mistaken about His coming in saying “I came to not to bring peace, but a sword,” also tells us that it is the makers of peace who shall be called as He is, a son of God, what are we to understand?
Christ’s very Being is Peace. His very nature and essence is Peace Itself.
To be called, as Christ is by nature, a son of God, means not only that we alter a few of our actions, but that we undergo a very change in nature, in essence. That we must be not reformed, but completely wiped clean and reborn. As Paul says, “to have the mind of Christ.”
This “partaking of the Divine nature” is the very core of our faith and the reality of the Incarnation of God. As John writes in an epistle, “He has given you no burdensome commandment.” He seeks only that we become one with Him, as He is one with the Father.
So then what of the sword? It is written, “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved,” and “as you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” However, the condemnation is “that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.”
This Sword severs all bonds not based or rooted in Christ.
Why? For the one in union with God has a very change in nature. The Spirit through Paul says, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away.” The old and the new cannot mix in us. The past and the future both are not in league with the present, besides existing in the mind alone, and plan of God, relative to the present. This is the time of communion with God. Now. So, as the holy Apostle says, let us “be changed by the renewing of our mind.”
We have been moving lethargically, if at all. Our old clothes must be entirely cast off, and Christ put on. We should say to others, “death works in us, but life in you.” For indeed, the sword slays the old man in us, who is corrupt, daily; but so life and peace can truly find It’s home in us and in others.
Where next is the Sword of the Lord seeking to “draw blood?” Where next is God expanding His Church on the earth? To what people?
It is written in Sirach, “Observe that I have not labored for myself alone, but for all who seek instruction.” Have we had this in our hearts? We must work first for God, secondly for others with no exception and to those and in those social ties and bonds not yet renewed; those places in us, even, not yet renewed.