On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 14: Baptism and Turning One’s Back on the Church

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15 RSV)

At the Holy Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation, the candidate (and his or her sponsor) stands at the door of the church facing the East, the rising sun, the symbol of Resurrection and the new life that awaits the newly baptized. At one point in the rite, the candidate is turned away from the East, and is instructed to turn to the West. During the time the candidate faces West, the prayer for the casting out of sin and Satan is prayed by the priest. The candidate is then turned back to the East (seemingly with much relief). He or she is now ready to be joined to Christ and His Church.

That brief moment of turning one’s back on Christ and His Church is the very moment when one’s allegiance to Satan and all his works and all his ways should finally put behind. Evil and darkness are cast out. All there is to come is brightness and the uncreated Light that is the Transfigured (changed) Christ!

This joining of a person to Christ and His Church is not to be taken lightly. Every Orthodox Christian should strive to maintain this attachment. And every Orthodox Christian is given the means to do so. The Holy Mysteries are available to every Orthodox Christian. A spiritual Father is available to every Orthodox Christian. There should be no question that there are resources for every Orthodox Christian to remain firmly in the Church of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Yet the connection is often lost, or becomes only a thin thread holding on. Why? It may be that a person has turned away on purpose – that is, turned his or her back on the Church just as was symbolically done at Baptism. This happens more often than not because the lure of the world to self and selfishness is all around us. From TV commercials to the little ads you see on every internet website to the mounds of junk mail everyone receives every day. These are all calls to satisfy one’s own self. These are temptations, lures, attractions to give what means you have to someone else in return from some trinket, service or product that one really does not need.

Such is the beginning of the Orthodox Christian’s re-attachment to this world, to sin and to Satan. Such is the beginning of the loss of a true understanding of stewardship. We are Christ’s. We belong to Him. All we have is from Him. All we expect to receive eternally is due to His first love for us, and our response of love to Him.

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

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