Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kill Zeus

Sunday night, we had a priest from a Russian Orthodox parish give us a pre-Lenten talk on living a balanced Orthodox life in an unbalanced world.  He made some very good points.

He reminded us that ascetical practice is not, for the Orthodox, a matter of self-loathing or of punishing ourselves.  It's a matter of becoming spiritually fit, same as we exercise to become physically fit.  We need this discipline because the enemy's team is very strong, very disciplined, and very aggressive.  (He meant, of course, spiritual enemies, not other human beings.)

He reminded us that humility is also not a form of self-loathing; it's having our inflated images of ourselves punctured by a healthy dose of reality.  The main reality is that we are utterly dependent upon God for absolutely everything.  But to see reality is no easy thing, precisely because of our pride and other passions.  It takes effort. 

Are our efforts to try to make God love us?  No way!  He already loves us no matter what we do or do not do.  To try to make Him reward us?  No way!  One is only rewarded for service "above and beyond" duty, but no matter how much we may succeed at being good Christians, it's never more than our duty.   Our efforts are to become strong, healthy Christians.

In talking about the God of love, the priest said that in non-Orthodox ways of thinking -which he knows well, having been a Methodist minsiter for 20 years and having his PhD in theology - God is loving, yes, but He can also be like Don Corleone:  "You've offended me!  Now I'm going to have to kill you.  And your family."  (Okay, this is satire, yes, but unless you can say specifically what is unjust about it and why, I submit that it is right on the mark.)

That deity, he said, is not God, it's Zeus.  "And I know Zeus is a Greek guy, but please, get rid of him.  Banish him from your hearts and minds.  He is not our God.  Kill Zeus."



Genevieve said...

THanks for this post! It's very interesting. We in our house have been reading alot of the old testament, and I think one can misunderstand as this post mentions, that the love that God shows is clear. He is just also though, so we are trying to understand his judgements on Irsael for their wrong doings. I will be happy to bring up the Kill Zeus at breakfast this morning! :) Have a blessed day!

傷心 said...

Never put off till tomorrow what may be done today..........................