- Fr. Athanasius Oweis
What is the Purpose of Christian Life? - Sunday of the Pentecost - 6/20/2021
Gospel Reading: JOHN 7:37-52; 8:12
Link to Reading: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
If we ask ourselves today, what is the purpose of the Christian Life? Why do we come to Church, why do we do what we do? Many of us would say: To become Christ Like- and while this is a good answer, what they really mean is that they become good people. Which is a very wrong answer. Because the Christian Faith is not an ethical system, it is way deeper than that. Other Christians would have the answer, to be saved, and while this is also a good answer, but those who say that don’t understand the true meaning of it, and what they mean is that God loves me and he is saving me from this scary place called Hell. Which is a service that God is doing to us by His love, which is also a wrong understanding of God and His love.
As for us Orthodox Christians, Christ Himself, The Apostles, and All the Church Fathers, primarily Saint Macarius the Great and Saint Seraphim Sarov teach us clearly that the True purpose of the Christian Faith is to acquire the Holy Spirit. To attain the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the Holy Spirit. We hear so many Christians today saying, I am filled with the Holy Spirit, and they often say a statement like this when they are feeling joyful, or as we say, On Cloud nine. Or sometimes when they start to interpret the bible, and we often hear things like, The holy spirit told me this, or the holy spirit guided me to do that. And while they have genuine and sincere emotions while they are expressing those terms, this could not be farther from the truth, because, for us Orthodox Christians, We have a complete different understanding of the Holy Spirit, and how he functions and behaves, and where and through whom does he work. For us the Holy Spirit is God Himself, the third person of the Trinity. He is not an Emotion. He is a person. Christ did not tell His disciples, it is better for you that I leave, because I will make you feel something. He told His disciples and us that He will send us the Holy Spirit.
And to understand what how important it is to be filled with the Holy Spirit correctly we look at the parable of the 10 virgins. All of them where virgins, that means all of them did good works, not only that, they were pure, but the difference between the 5 wise and the 5 fools was the amount of oil in their lamps, and this oil is a symbol of their attainment of the Holy Spirit. Not all of them were filled, so the 5 fool virgins, even they were very “good” in today’s measures, they failed to be with the bride… This is really scary…
So on this Sunday of Pentecost, let us together see who the Holy Spirit for us is in the Orthodox Church, What are His tasks, and Why did the Lord Jesus Christ choose to send Him to us. What does he do in our lives, and how important He is in our Christian life.
Who is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, He is the third person of the Trinitarian Godhead, He shares one essence with the Father and the Son, and He proceeds from the Father as we recite in the Creed. We see Him all through the Bible from the First Chapter of Genesis verse 2, where it says “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters”. All through the Bible to the last chapter in Revelations 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelations 22:17)
The Holy Spirit is always connected with the water, and with Fire.
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38. What does that mean?
Christ tells the Samaritan woman: If you know who asked you ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10
The Holy Spirit is also connected with fire, as the tongues of fire landed on the apostles…
Saint John the Baptist said: He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11)
Fire Has three main attributes, It burns and purifies, it warms, and it gives light
Saint Paul teaches is in 2 Corinthians 2 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire;
The Holy Spirit burns:
He burns all the impurities in our hearts. As we become more and more filled with the Holy Spirit, our sins would disappear because they are being burnt by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit warms:
He fills our heart with Comfort. This is why Christ called Him The Comforter, he does not comfort us over loss of money in stocks, but He comforts us when we repent from our sins.
The Holy Spirit Lights:
He shows us the Truth. This is why He is called the Spirit of Truth. And notice how the Truth came as tongues of fire on the Church together as a whole, The apostles and disciples and the myrrh bearers were together when the holy spirit came down on them, they were not each in his home and the Holy Spirit came individually on each of the them, the Holy Spirit Came to them when they were together, signifying how he works in the Church. So if you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, It is the Church that offers you the gifts of Holy Spirit, through Her sacrements…
So many people work to attain things that perish, but we as Christians we live to attain not object, money or materialistic things that have no value, but spend our time in life to attain the most valuable that we can ever attain, the person of God. May God give us the wisdom and the strength to always focus on attaining the Holy Spirit. Amen