Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Personal, Passionate Relationships

Bernadette over at Intentional Disciples writes:

After reading the magazine article, the NYT articles on the Ark of Salvation church and Pentecostalism and the various posts here, it seems to me that the critical issues in determining whether one responds to Jesus and the Holy Spirit in a Catholic context or in a Evangelical or Pentecostal setting are (1) does the person have an encounter with the person of Jesus, as both human (someone who cares about what's happening to them) and divine (someone who can do something about what is happening to them), and (2) do they encounter and develop a relationship with someone who they know is 100% human but operating with divine power, in the Spirit, with a charism operative.

I think that the distinction she draws, in addition to be a wonderful expression of the Council of Chalcedon (in Christ there are two natures, human and divine, "without division or separation, without confusion or admixture" united in one Person) is right on the mark pastorally. Too often in our preaching in the Orthodox Church we fail to communicate the fact that Jesus actually cares about us not simply as God, but also as a human being.

That God forgives me and blesses me is certainly a good thing--but it is no big thing for God to do this as God. Yes, to draw an analogy, Bill Gates is generous, but it is the widow's mite that Jesus praises. So too with God. For the Uncreated to pour out grace on a creature is no big deal--but for the Creator to become a creature, for God to make Himself poor for our sake, that is extraordinary.

God in Jesus Christ loves and understand us not simply as God from all eternity, but as a man among men. God in Jesus Christ knows us, loves us, blesses us, forgives us, dies and rises for us in His humanity, which is to say, as one of us. How many Orthodox Christians understand that Jesus loves us not simply as God, but as our fellow human being? Far too few I fear.

So thank you Bernadette, you have remind me of an important, and often overlooked, truth.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory