In the Gospels Jesus warns us that the world will hate us. He is giving us a warning that being a Christian will not be easy and that it will be a fight, every day, for what we believe in. The world is becoming increasingly hostile to the truth of Jesus Christ and I do not see it getting any better.
Yesterday I posted an essay on the Huffington Post Religion Page and before my finger was even off the send button the attackers came out. They hate the fact that the church would dare speak out on issues that affect people and their beliefs, one of the more shocking things was that some of those attacking my words were Orthodox! Yes, the Orthodox Church teaches and preaches traditional family values, well it is supposed to anyway, but I fear that many of my brother priests have not done their job. I know our bishops have not done their job as they have been silent these last few years as the Government of the United States slowly erodes our religious liberty. But it is not their fault.
We need to provide the strength and support to our bishops so they will know that we want them to speak out. We need to let them know that we support the mission of the Church to being the truth to society and we need them to know that we need them to find their voice and find it now! I serve on a committee with the newly formed Episcopal Assembly of Orthodox Bishops. The Committee for Church and Society is tasked with the following;
“The Committee for Church and Society will develop a process to determine both the propriety and the priority of advocacy by the Assembly of issues concerning Church, government and society that are relevant to the lives of the faithful in the Region (e.g., same-sex marriage, abortion, war, etc.).”
I believe I was appointed more than a year ago, although I found out I was appointed by reading it on the website of the Assembly, but the Committee has yet to meet or begin the work that we are supposed to accomplish!
The bishops of our church are the authentic teachers of the faith. It is their role as Arch-Pastors of His Church to educate the people in the faith and what the Church teaches. This is an important role but I feel many times they say only what the people want to hear. Jesus did not tell the people what they wanted to hear He told them what they needed to hear and most of them did not like it but that did not stop him. He was not concerned with what people would think or whether or not they would put anything in the collection bin, he was concerned with the salvation of their souls, period!
Friends I find it unbelievable when I hear Orthodox people, people who have been Orthodox their entire life, say things like same sex marriage should be allowed in the Orthodox Church. People who believe that sex before the sacrament of marriage is just fine because everyone is doing it, and a growing number of people who believe that unrestricted abortion is an acceptable form of contraception regardless of the reason. I am sorry to say these are not Orthodox positions!
Being a Christian in the 21st Century is not easy and being an Orthodox Christian is even harder. We are a Church with some pretty counter cultural beliefs that we hold dear. We are a Church that still placed requirements on her members and hold them accountable for their actions. We are a church that is supposed to preach the truth regardless of whether or not is it politically correct. We are a Church that preaches confession and repentance and that we are all sinners and that the Church is the hospital for healing not just a place to come to hear your native language and eat foods from the home land.
It is time for the Orthodox Church to wake up and start preaching what we need to preach! It is time for us to wake up and, with love, correct people when they go astray. “We have found the true faith” and that faith needs to be preached as it has been handed down to us and watered down. And it is high time that the Orthodox Bishops in this country find their voice and start to speak. If the leadership is not willing to speak then individual bishops need to do it. Your Eminences and Your Graces we need to hear you, your people need to hear from you, we long to hear your voice and we need your teaching!
The world is in darkness and needs us to being the light!
I recently heard someone, sorry I cannot remember who, speaking about evangelism. At the end of the talk the speaker left his audience with a question and I think it is appropriate to end this essay with the same question. How will they come and see if WE do not GO and tell? The first part of the Great Commission is GO, we need to GO and we need to GO now!