31 January 2008

follow -up to my 'question for Christians'

Let me explain where my previous, somewhat random post came from. The other night I was just reading through my journal and came across this short quote from one of Matthew Gallatin's podcasts. In this particular podcast he described how experiencing or walking with God can be compared to dancing with a partner. The question I posed on my last post is actually the question he had asked himself while still a western Christian: "If I ignore what I believe about my God and set aside everything that I feel about my God, what is left of my experience with God? And the answer was nothing." This felt relevant to where I've been spiritually lately. I also posted it as kind of a poll because I was curious to hear what it would bring to mind for others.

When I first heard Gallatin's question, it really hit home for me as I could totally relate to his question and his answer. In the times when I was unsure what belief was right and when I came down from spiritual highs, where did God go? How could I lose Him so easily and frequently? If we say that God can only be experienced through beliefs and feelings, are we not saying that He only exists in relation to our minds and "hearts"? (I say "heart" because feelings originate in the mind, our true heart is our nous.) Our relationship with God must include more than theology and 'lofty' thoughts and feelings. I believe that God, especially in Christ's incarnation, is concrete and can be experienced in very concrete ways. He is here, everywhere present and filling all things.

I mentioned that the whole reason I chose this quote is that it is relevant to where I've been spiritually lately. You see, I've noticed how, yet again, I've been turning off course in my spiritual life. I have been thinking plenty, my beliefs are as strong as ever, and I have even felt spiritually sentimental, but still these days I find that I am lacking a true experience with God. I see it in my behavior, in my internal life and in my relationships. The reason for the lack is that I have not been actively, intentionally participating in the life of God through the Holy Mysteries. It is through the Mysteries (there are more than seven, by the way) that we encounter God, and His powerful Presence changes us and makes us a little more like Him. Although these experiences rarely bring tears to my eyes nor am I usually filled with palpable joy, they are real and leave an impression on my soul, mind and body. Many people who are not part of the Orthodox faith still think that the Divine Mysteries (Sacraments) are evidence of a works-based salvation theology, but that is a misunderstanding. A life of holiness and participation in the Holy Mysteries are how we meet God in a concrete way and are thereby purified. Orthodox Christians follow this way to holiness so that we, His unprofitable servants, can, through God's great mercy, be fully united with Him in the end. Glory to God for all things.

I welcome comments, corrections, additions.

29 January 2008

question for Christians

If you ignore what you believe about your God and set everything aside that you feel about your God, what is left of your experience with Him?

07 January 2008