Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Theosis and Evangelism


     In the life of Christ there was no such thing as ordinary. Even in our Lord's most simplest of days there was no event out of reach of the Divine Nature. This truth is also witnessed in the life of the Apostles and many of our saints. However, sometimes this understanding is distant from our own personal experience. For some reason we often become convinced that we really are not that important and the meaning that God calls us to find each day most be for someone else. This is especially true when it comes to the universal call to share our faith with others, which is called evangelization. Too often we think that sharing our faith is something for those highly educated or our clergy. We even tend to think of evangelization in mechanical terms, such as in knocking on doors or handing out religious literature. However, our Byzantine tradition holds us to a greater standard of experiencing life and communicating our faith.
     Where ever we go the world is being changed through us. The Lord himself even goes before us each day making ways for us to transform the world( Ephesians 2:10).As a result, there is no moment, action, or event in each day where we can't anticipate experiencing God. It takes faith of course to accept this. However, when we do embrace this sense of destiny that God puts before us the notion of ordinary becomes obsolete. As opposed to the notion of ordinary we become in many ways a continuation of God's revelation to the world. Concerning this the great Melkite Archbishop Elias Zoghby once said "Since the first centuries, the Eastern Fathers have considered the mission of Christ in the world to be an epiphany, i.e., a flood of divine light on the work of creation. The mission of the Church consists in perpetuating this Epiphany of the Lord and thus preparing, over the centuries, for the coming of the Kingdom". As the archbishop shared we find that as members of the church we are constantly called to prepare the world for experiencing God, which is the natural result of our own divinization.
     In our calling it should be expected that there will be times when the Divine Nature will shine through us to others. In fact, we should not take for granted those times we encounter people in our days. If we learn to be open there are many ways that we can communicate our experience of God. For example, I remember one time my spiritual father shared with me that he was on airplane with many people. God put it in his heart to began to pray for them and when he was finished the Lord gave him the sense that because he did this their lives would never be the same. Another example, one time I shared my faith with a friend of mine and in response he became a member of the Church. You never know what God will do if you become open. We must anticipate that God will use us to bring his presence into the world.
     In sharing the Divine Nature with the world it might be easily accepted that we can pray but actually speaking about our faith is a great struggle. Many times we feel we are unqualified or even fear of rejection grips our hearts. The apostle Paul also struggled with these feelings. He teaches the following in scripture," I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power(1cor. 2 3-5)".The apostle Paul felt in many ways inadequate to share his faith but he realized in the few things that he could share that the Divine Nature would shine through. We need only trust that God will use whatever we have to offer someone when we do share our faith.
     When it comes to sharing our faith we need to be open to the possibility that God brings people to us. This is based on the evidence that we do not live ordinary lives. For instance, the pizza delivery driver who comes to your door might be that person that God brings into your life to encounter the Divine Nature. In matters like this Blessed John Paul the Great once said, "In this proclamation the Spirit is at work and establishes a communion between the missionary and his hearers, a communion which is possible inasmuch as both enter into communion with God the Father through Christ(Mission of the Redeemer 44)".As the blessed father says our work of sharing faith is not one sided. Rather, it is an action of Divine destiny. From this perspective God has all ready been working in the life of those we share our faith with. So much so that a communion is established in God between the hearer and us,which is a communion that God had been establishing before the foundation of the world(1peter 1:20).
     Sharing our faith ultimately is a matter of Theosis. For it is a natural consequence of partaking of Divine Nature. In essence, proclamation itself is a way to grow in experiencing the Divine Nature. This is a great mystery but in sharing our faith we are becoming like Christ. We need to learn to convince ourselves that our days are guided by the hand of God and be open to the missionary nature of our days. There is endless potential for us if we accept the fullness of our calling that we receive from our Lord. As Lord says," And then he told them, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone (Mark 16:15)".There is no one that we meet that is outside of our experience of God or the call to proclaim the GOOD NEWS.

2 comments:

  1. I love that saying attributed to St Francis of Assisi: "Preach the Gospel every day; use words if necessary." It shows how important our actions are in demonstrating our faith to others. Unfortunately, I fail every day in this regard. But still, each day is a new slate, thank God.

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    1. "The Gospel's inherent power does not fluctuate with the strengths or weaknesses of its messengers." ---Duane Litfin

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