On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 11: Land of Opportunity

“…put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:14 RSV) “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27 RSV) “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20 NIV)

Recent events have rekindled the discussion about immigration into our country. As our Orthodox forebears were mostly all immigrants, this is a discussion that could affect us deeply. In generations past, many came to this country from Europe because the United States of America was seen as “the land of opportunity.” For those who had little or no opportunity in their own homelands, America seemed to be the place to come.

But what was the “opportunity” that these immigrants sought – and, as well, the modern-day immigrants: what was this “opportunity” that was not theirs elsewhere, but was available in the USA? A definition of “opportunity” is: a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something; specifically a chance for employment or promotion. For some, opportunity means the chance to gain for one’s self in a new location, what could not be gained where one was. If immigrating to America was done to “get ahead” financially, many did so. And many continue to attempt to do so today. The question to be asked, is what does one do with the gains one has made through a change of location, a real change of life?

In a sense, being an Orthodox Christian is being an immigrant seeking a better life. When one is Baptized and Chrismated an Orthodox, that new life begins. The immigration is complete. That new life is described by St. Paul as having “put on Christ.” We can very well look at how we are blessed in our American life in the same way precisely as we have been blessed with our Orthodoxy.

When God entrusts to us, in our new Orthodox life, means and riches that abound as they do in America, God does so with the purpose that we use these means not for personal gains and satisfaction, but to adorn the New Life of Christ that we have put on. We are to represent Christ, the Christ we have “put on.” We are to live not to please and glorify ourselves, or to receive honor because we have succeeded in finding material gains in this “new life.” The self of the pre-baptismal life is gone. Selfishness is put aside. “For me to live is Christ…” (Philippians 1:21 RSV)

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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