EXPLORING THE POSSIBILITIES OF OUR FAITH – Almoutran
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EXPLORING THE POSSIBILITIES OF OUR FAITH

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Word Magazine January 1965 Page 3-4

EXPLORING THE POSSIBILITIES OF OUR FAITH

A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

By METROPOLITAN ANTONY

The knowledge of what our faith has to offer to the individual is a matter that each may seek after with his might and main, for it is the most prized possession in the world. Noth­ing arrives without it, and everything arrives with it. It offers us the most valued thing in life, and connects us with a force which gives us vision and wisdom beyond the fondest dreams of man. Christ compared the possibilities of true religion to a man who found a great treasure which to possess, had to sell everything he had to buy.

From the very beginning of time man tried to explore the possibilities of faith and in life’s higher values. The search has been most gratifying when man used proper means and methods, but he came to a sad ending when he tried to arrogate to himself ways and means against the will of God.

In order to get the most out of his religion one should realize that each of us can become whatever he wishes providing he works hard toward the realization of his possibilities. But that depends upon self-knowledge, and a proper estimate of a person’s capacities. That there are great pos­sibilities in all of us in varying degrees goes without saying, but how to get into these forces within ourselves and utilize them to the best advantage has always been the problem. Psychology and psychiatry offer much help along these lines but it is only in Christianity that we learn how to tap these great possibilities within man to the best advantage.

The very first step on the part of the man seeking to explore the pos­sibilities of religion is by the realiza­tion that God and God alone has the key to all knowledge, that all the higher wisdom is imparted by Him to man. In other words, God inspires the human mind imparting to man the wisdom and the illumination nec­essary to human progress. God gives man the incentive, the green light to go ahead. He prompts man and em­powers him for any task which other­wise might seem impossible. Inspira­tion when arriving into the heart and mind of a person links him with the greatest of all the world’s forces for then he becomes a partner with God, having acquired the plus element.

There cannot be any argument in the fact that God has and holds the initiative, especially in matters per­taining to higher endeavors and wis­dom. One of the most fatal mistakes committed by man is his belief that he can go it alone. It is the first step downward, for its spells pride, arro­gance, divorcement from the Divine Power which alone can give man the proper guidance, and without which one is doomed to failure.

The turning point in a man’s life arrives when he believes that linked with God nothing shall be impossible to him, and while he does his best toward the realization of his possibil­ities, he waits upon God for guidance and inspiration. Time and again we come across difficulties and problems which seem well-nigh insur­mountable. But the patient believer, tuning in on God, hears words like these, “Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.”

The second step along the road of exploring the possibilities of religion is meditation, concentration — think­ing thoughts that are elevating and uplifting. This is where man either rises or falls, for as the sacred writer has it, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” The person who ha­bitually thinks wholesome thoughts is the man on the road to maturity. Keeping one’s thoughts pure is man­datory upon each of us, because what we cook up in our minds usual­ly shows up in deeds either good or bad. Strife, struggles, malice’s and grudges have their origin in man’s mind, just as all the great and worthy deeds, the peace movements and the efforts which contribute to man’s well-being, hatch in man’s mind too. No person can hope to attain to any degree of religious faith; none can explore its great possibilities, the stream of whose thoughts are impure. There is perhaps nothing more rewarding, indeed nothing more gratifying than the consciousness that you are at peace with God and man. Our thoughts are the mirrors in which are reflected our own attitudes toward our fellow human beings.

The third step along the road of exploring the possibilities of religion is devotion, dedicating one’s self on the altar of service to God and hu­manity. Have you ever stopped to think why people of no great signifi­cance at all throughout history, men who were mediocre financially, so­cially and intellectually became men of great moral stature? The answer is found in the fact that they lived sacrificially, they had the vision glor­ious in realizing that they were here for the purpose of pleasing God, for­getting their self-interests, giving of their times and means in the service of humanity. They realized the great possibilities within them because they persevered in the way, they obediently followed the light of the Eternal Spirit which ever way it took them. They realized that alone they could not make the grade, they liter­ally put their lives, their entire affairs in God’s hands and therefore, they triumphed over trouble.

If you and I and the rest of hu­manity were to dedicate our talents, be they ever so small, to the great cause of service to God and human­ity we would make the grand and glorious discovery that with God’s help we are sure winners, and by His assistance we attain to great heights spiritually.

Consider if you will, the twelve dis­ciples of our Lord at whose achieve­ments we are still amazed. Could anyone have expected much from men whose efforts were spent in ek­ing out a living by fishing and fight­ing the elements? Have you ever asked yourselves the reason for their attainment to such dizzy spiritual heights? The answer — they were will­ing to keep company with Jesus, to follow where ever he led them. “Fol­low me,” said Jesus simply, “and I will make you fishers of men.” They followed him unquestioningly, but the road led to Gethsemane and a cross. But the road did not end there, for beyond that cross was a resur­rection experience, a new life with the assurance that no life shall end in the grave which banked its all on the goodness of God. That life shall live after seeming death because God lives!

Fourth and last, to explore the pos­sibilities of our faith we should have Christ’s pioneering spirit, whose goal was and still is “all the world and every creature.” Christianity, accord­ing to Christ, has no human bound­aries, racial or linguistic limitations. The frontier of our faith is wher­ever man is found. St. Paul, one of the greatest Christians that ever lived, who has written one half of the New Testament, made this state­ment, “I am debtor to the Greek and to the Barbarian, to the wise and to the unwise so that as much as it lies in me I should preach the gospel to you who are in Rome.” A restless, unsatisfied, pioneering spirit charac­terized the efforts of the early Chris­tians. “We have not attained or are already perfect, but we strive toward the goal of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” was their motto ever urging them on to greater and wor­thier efforts.

We stop short of the goal because we are influenced with a complacent, let-doing-too-well-

alone-spirit. We’ve lost our pioneering spirit because we feel that we have thriving, well-organized churches and thorough-­going organizations. Satisfied with our achievements we become com­placent, and with that slacken our efforts, thus progress is arrested and checked, and with that retrogression sets in.

“All the world and every creature” are far from being Christianized. One wonders as to the reason. Is it because we Christians are busy build­ing our denominational walls, stress­ing our dogmatic differences, behav­ing as pagans rather than Christians? Is the world on the brink of ruin and on the verge of a global war because of the disunity among the various Christian groups who are supposed to be the children of light and should know the peace of God which pass­eth all understanding? Have we for­gotten Jesus warning that a divided kingdom or house cannot stand? Can we truthfully say that hate and prejudice and ill will are an evidence of a Christian spirit? Unity in the ranks of all godly people is the sure way to lasting Peace. Should we unite under the banner of love, loyalty and good will and thus achieve peace, or shall we continue as we always have done and achieve suicide — which shall it be?

The salvation of the world lies not in having great armaments, guided missiles or larger churches, but it lies in the diffusion of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world and every creature, it lies in rallying all people under the banner of Jesus Christ, the banner of loyalty, love and good-will, laying aside every hindrance and im­pediment to peace. May God help us in this worthy endeavor.

God give us men! A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands, men whom the lust of office does not kill. Men whom the spoils of office can­not buy. Men who possess opinions and a will. Men who have honor — men who will not lie; tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog, in public duty and in private thinking!