How often do we hear, “That’s just the way I am.” or “That’s me, and if you don’t like it, too bad.” or even worse, when it comes to justifying godless behaviors or actions, some people even say, “That’s just the way God made me, and He loves me just as I am.” To misinterpret terribly the great hymn of the Church!
All of these self-justifying comments reminds us of biblical prophecies that refer to the end times, “…when each man will do what is right in their own minds….” disregarding the Church and the mind of Christ found in sacred scripture. But what if? What if instead of justifying sinful, hurtful, prideful, aberrant behaviors that damn and damage not only ourselves, but other persons as well… What if we had an understanding of “That’s the way God made me…” with the following viewpoint below provided by St. John Chrysostom? What if we chose the way less traveled; the narrow and hard path instead of the wide highway of “whatever feels right” is right?
It’s not difficult to imagine a brighter, better, and more peace filled world; when we envision and act on the promptings of the Holy Spirit who lives within us to not only “be good” but to “do good“. In Orthodoxy we call this “synergy“, meaning, a conscious cooperation with God in doing Holy things, and living in a holy way, making conscious choices to kill our pride, and to give birth to Christ who is not only in us, but who beckons us to be like Him. Theosis! The true goal of our faith! Which apprehends and acquires – the uncreated grace of God – the energies of God, so that we become one with God – in thought, word and deed.
It looks something like this…
The Sun gives forth light; it cannot help doing so. Animals breathe in and out; they cannot help doing so. Fish swim in rivers and the sea; they cannot help doing so.
What, then, are the things that a Christian cannot help doing?
First of all, a Christian cannot help praying. To be a Christian is to regard God as a loving Father; and it is natural to talk and listen to one’s parents. Second, a Christian cannot help praising God and giving praise to Him, To be a Christian is to affirm God as creator of the universe; and when a Christian looks at the beauty and glory of what God has made, praise and thanksgiving pour from the lips. Third, a Christian cannot help being generous. To be a Christian is to acknowledge that everything belongs to God, and that human beings are merely stewards of what they possess; so they naturally want to share their possessions with those in need. Fourth, a Christian cannot help but reading the Scriptures and also studying the insights of other Christians. To be a Christian is to rejoice in the power of the Holy Spirit; and the Spirit speaks to us through the insights of our spiritual brothers and sisters…”
Therefore, Flip Wilson of 70’s comedic fame is really wrong – very wrong. He used to say, in order to justify outlandish behaviors, “The Devil made me do it.” When in fact, it’s not the devil, but it’s me…. it’s you…who make ourselves do everything we do, because we have a choice, the gift of free will. But what we do is either for good, or evil.
So in the end St. John is right. “It’s just the way I am…” I can’t help it! I just want…
to read Scripture
To be all that God created me to be. To become all that I was meant to be.