Following Christ

Metropolitan Anthony Bloom of Sourozh

This is taken from a Facebook post by our former Bishop MARK, who serves now as a Bishop in the Orthodox Church in America.  How contrarian these words are from modern-day “religiosity” about Jesus being a ‘friend’, and all those pious (by wrong) platitudes about the guarantee of  ‘health, wealth, peace and prosperity’ while we are here.  Scandalon is the Greek which translates to the English: scandal.  To follow Christ is a scandal, for as the world hated Him, such shall it do to us.  But to those who persevere a crown of righteousness awaits.

Bishop MARK quotes from Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

From a retreat

7 March 1981

The moment we offer our allegiance to the Lord, we immediately expect that He will allow us to stay by Him, to follow Him, to accompany Him. We expect as the reward and as the response for our choosing Him, that He will choose us as companions from whom He will not be parted. Well, we must be prepared for something else, because we do not join Christ in order to stand about around Him or around His place, but to serve Him where and in the way in which it is more expedient for Him and for His purpose.

More than once we can read in the Gospel that someone healed by Christ, whose life was transformed by his meeting with Him, wanted to follow Him, to accompany Him, to cling to Him. And Christ said to him, ‘No, go back to your own people. Go away into the world from which you have come, because it is there that your presence is needed.’ It is enough for us to know God, to know Christ, to know within ourselves the crushing and transfiguring work of the Holy Spirit. We do not need more. If we receive more we can be grateful for it and marvel at the privilege, but our function and our essential privilege is to be sent by Christ wherever He needs us, into darkness to bring some light, where there is hatred to bring some love, when there is strife, to bring some reconciliation, where there is pain, to bring some consolation, and so forth. Our place is where things are wrong. And we must go there, we must be there so that there is someone in each situation who will say ‘Come, Lord, stand in our midst. Give us Thy peace.’

I want you to give thought to this, because all of us all the time fall into a natural but ugly temptation to treat God as the One who gives and who must give. We forget that He is a consuming fire and we want to sit round a fire and warm our hands. It is not right. If we have chosen Him, if He has been wonderful, so wonderful as to reveal himself to us, we can leave it to Him to give us whatever He will choose, but to live for His sake and for the sake of those for whose sake He has become man, lived and died. Ask yourself questions about the way in which you approach Him in prayer. Is it in His Name or in yours? Is it for His sake, that He may win His victory over you and within you, or is it that sweetness and peace and joy may come? Ask yourself whether to be Christ’s has anything to do within you, in your life, but in your deeper self, in turning away from self-centeredness, saying to yourself whenever thought of self comes, ‘Oh, out of my way, because you are in my way to God and in God’s way to me.’ Ask yourselves whether you relate to people in God’s Name and in their name or in your own, whether you can imagine one person in your surroundings about whom you can say ‘This person, his existence I contemplate and serve without a thought of the way in which it may affect me; or whether all the people who are dear to you, who are your friends, who are your acquaintances, who are your chance meetings in life, are seen and judged only from your point of view: ‘What shall he do to me? What is this person to me?’

+ Anaphora

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