The Mission of the Orthodox Church

What is the mission of the Church?  What is the Orthodox Church all about?    What would you say?   How would you answer this?  This past Saturday while doing some work on a project at a local food pantry  a person asked “So what is the Orthodox Church?”   Great question – and this post provides a very good answer.

Our mission is to attain the Kingdom of God, and to draw all those around us—even the whole world—into that same Kingdom. To be ‘missionary’, then, is to live our lives in such a manner that these two things are possible, and more than simply possible: that they actually take place.

The Orthodox Church has been granted the faith, doctrine and teachings of Christ, His apostles, and millions of God Bearing fathers and mothers over 2 millenia –  this is our heritage – our gift.   But along with this gift comes the responsibility of actually doing something with it; for at the great reckoning in the end we will bear even more accountability since we have been given the fullness of the faith – the pearl of great price.

So, “What are we to use our lives to accomplish?”   What is the most important work we can give ourselves to?

Below is an excerpt from a wonderful article by Monk Irinei that you can read completely here.

The Mission of the Orthodox Christian: The Salvation of the Soul

The ‘mission’ and aim of the Christian life is the salvation of our souls and bodies, and the attainment of the Kingdom of God. This is first and foremost, and above all else.

It is for this that the Father sent His only-begotten Son, our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, into the world; it is for this that He offered Himself and sent the life-creating Spirit—that we who are fallen and broken, suffering and crippled by sin and death, might rise up by His power and attain to the life He has fashioned for us, abiding eternally with Him in His heavenly Kingdom.

We must not forget this! Yet one of the things I feel it important to remind you of today is that the work of Christian mission does often forget this, and we and you as Orthodox Christians must stalwartly resist this tendency to forget what is truly the purpose of our every Christian activity, especially our missionary work.

Our aim is not to help the people around us find a more fulfilling life; it is not to help them discover better worship; it is not to help them locate and become part of a more satisfying community. Our mission is to help them find the Kingdom of God, to overcome their sin by His power, to be transformed into the life of His blessedness.

This is our mission as Orthodox Christians; and for this reason, it is neither a popular or easy one in the world today. I want you to recognise this. To be a missionary requires struggle, and a confident boldness.

To fulfil this mission, we must proclaim boldly and without hesitation:

  • that there is but one God, not the many Gods, ideologies and spiritualities that the world likes to foster today;
  • that this one God is our God, who ‘does great and wonderful things’, and He alone is true and the Truth, and not that endless variety of truths and wisdoms the world embraces around us;
  • that there is such a thing as sin, that there is right and there is wrong, there is good and there is bad and it can and should be identified as such—even if the world might call this ‘judgemental’;
  • and, perhaps most importantly: that there is a way out of sin—namely, the Life in Christ that is the mystery of His Church.

Our mission is to attain the Kingdom of God, and to draw all those around us—even the whole world—into that same Kingdom. To be ‘missionary’, then, is to live our lives in such a manner that these two things are possible, and more than simply possible: that they actually take place.

+anaphora

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