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Our Role as a Member of the Body of Christ

For God So Loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son. John 3:16.

This passage was read this past week, as the Sunday before the great feast of the Exaltation
of the Holy Cross (September 14th). If there is any passage we have memorized, it is this one;
and we can give thanks to that by how enamored our Evangelical brothers and sisters are with this passage. They post it on billboards, bumper stickers, and you can even find it tattooed on some peoples bodies.
However, with how liberally the Evangelical community likes to throw around the numbers 3:16,
it shows me that many of them do not understand the gravity of this statement. We were created
to be with God, to be like God, but we (mankind) fell away from that likeness. It has since been a
constant battle with ourselves and the devil to reclaim our place in heaven with God.
We fell so far from grace, that, as St. Athanasius says, "God became man, so that we might
become God." Christ came into this world, the father sent His only Son, from his side, to be with us. This was done in order to renew the archetype of humanity.
The most perfect model that we had to follow prior to Christ was Adam.
but so long as we lived in the same fallen state as Adam, we would never be able to move
beyond the broken nature that was laid before us. Creation had to be renewed first, through the
birth of  the Theotokos, and through he, the birth of Christ; showing us the nature of humanity
that God had always intended for us.
For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son.
Christ became man so that we could know God, we could gain knowledge of God, not in an
abstract theological sense, but in an intimate familial sense. In the same way we know our family
or our friends, we now have the ability to know God in the same way. We can see God, we can
depict him, as we see in our icons, we can relate to him. Christ had family, He had friends,
He celebrated with them, as we see at the Wedding of Canna. He mourned for them as we see at
the tomb of Lazarus. So much of what Christ did in His ministry validates our own being,
but there is still so much more for us to learn as far as it comes to knowing God.
As St. Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians, “Desire the greater gifts, and I will show you
an even more excellent path." This more excellent path that St. Paul refers to is the path we take
to truly know God. St. Paul continues to talk of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and how this leads to
Love, real Love. If we are to know Christ, if we are to know God, then we must learn to love fully
and truly, without reservation. And this love leads us to the path that results in being a member of the whole body of Christ.
Every Sunday when we receive Holy Communion, we will partake of the Body and Blood and
willing accept into ourselves. From there we leave the church, and take that Body into the whole
world. Every Sunday, we become a conduit in which Christ is present physically in the world.
For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son.
When this ends up plastered up on a billboard or tattooed on someones ankle, this passage
becomes very one dimensional. Many Evangelicals read this with the understanding that,
"We have been justified in faith, Christ did all of the hard work, and I am saved because of it."
When we read this passage, as Orthodox Christians, we take upon ourselves the whole of the
responsibility of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God sent us a model, a perfect
example of how we were intended to be created, in Christ. When we read this passage, and especially in preparation for the feast of the Holy Cross, we see the path
we are to walk, the person we are called to be, as an Orthodox Christian. We bear witness to the
cross that we are called to carry; the cross that is on our back when we walk out the doors of this
Christ became man so that we can follow His example, and carry our cross in such a way that
people outside the church will see us and say, "I want to follow you," and in turn, they take up
their own cross to follow Christ.


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