On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 67: God's Gift - Our Gift
“…who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8 RSV)
Orthodox Christians firmly believe that Jesus Christ is fully God and at the same time fully human. When Jesus appeared on earth as a human being, He came with just one objective in mind: the salvation of all human beings through Him. To accomplish this objective, Jesus Christ, the Human Being, had to die, just like all other human beings.
And this giving up of human life by Jesus was God’s gift to all of humanity. The plan from before time began was for God to humble himself and become as one of us. Jesus Christ, in obedience to the will of His Father, gave His all, His human life for our salvation. Thus we who have become one with Him ought likewise to be willing to give all we have for Him. We who have through Baptism put on Christ (“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” Galatians 3:27 RSV), have become one with Him, that we, too have died with Him (“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death” Romans 6:4 RSV). The Resurrection of the same Christ whom we have “put on” thus assures us of our Resurrection as well. What a gift to us! What a humiliation on the part of God for us! He gave His all for us – what is our gift in return?
Our lives are already His. We have given them over to God. We are living examples of Resurrection, we who have put on the resurrected Christ. A life of pain, work and sacrifice thus means nothing. Those who resist or forget that they are of the same nature in their humanity as Christ Himself are the ones who are weak in purpose and changeable in desire. Such persons are full of the need for instant gratification, and have little of the spirit of thanksgiving in them. Such persons are fearful of the future and need to hold on to the present (and the past) because they do not trust God.
According to the parable of Jesus known as the “Sower and the Seed,” attempting to serve both self and God is like the seed that falls on rocky soil. “Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away” (Matthew 13:5-6 RSV). And when the worst of life comes upon such a person, he or she will not endure. God gave His all – what will you give in return?
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
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