Christian Principles for Service to Others
From an Orthodox Perspective – Part II:
The Second Principle
Today’s clarion call should be, “Do not be conformed to this world,” in other words, to the pattern of this day and age. The forces of evil today constantly tempt us to turn away from “what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The social structure today has created conveyers of evil and corrupt influences in every aspect of life. These can be found in business, government, labor unions, schools, industries, and, sad to say, even churches which try to modernize and conform to the world in an effort to be in the “mainstream of things.” The Apostle Paul has admonished us not to adopt the fleeting fashion of this society and the world. All of the external trappings have no lasting importance for they are only of the moment. Conformity, though fashionable for a time is not just wrong, it is sinful. Therefore, we as Christians are not to conform to this world.
St. Paul tells us to change, to become transformed in ourselves so that we will be able to perceive the will of God. The WILL of God is “what is good and acceptable and perfect,” well-pleasing and ideal. Thus, as our bodies are made pure and free from all the blemishes of passion, so our minds are to be no longer enslaved by our sensual nature, but renewed and purified by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Our intellect, the seat of moral judgment, is true and exact in judging on spiritual and moral questions in daily life. Thus you will “prove that which is in accordance with the will of God,” and this includes all that is implied in moral principles, religious standards and the ideal perfection, which is the goal of life. According to Apostle Paul, body and mind go hand in hand, helping each other in purifying, functioning and attaining the will of God.
Practical Guides in Service to Others
“For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God assigned him. For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them; if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”
In these verses Paul describes the kind of bearing and temper, the
Mode of conduct, and behavior that is natural and fitting for a Christian in his daily living with others. These words also hold great meaning when addressed to an entire community as they do when addressed to individuals in his relationship with the fellowship with others or the society of which the individual is an integral member, for each member has a spiritual gift of some kind to offer.
Saint Paul almost always thinks of the individual as a member of the Christian community, seldom as an isolated member. Each of us is united to our fellow believers just as we are united to Christ by faith. Paul emphasized fellowship in which the individual is to find the full opportunity to realize the new personality. Paul teaches that according to the measure of faith god has given, each of us has a diversity of gifts: “each has their own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another” (1 Cor., 7:7). Those who are wise and use caution, have modesty regarding themselves, and know their positions within their community depend not only on their own merits, but on the measure of their faith given as a gift by God.
A person’s faith is the sign and measure of ones Christian life, with the diversity of gifts depending upon God. Modesty, sobriety and good judgment are the first requirements in the community as described by Saint Paul. Each person should to the general interest of their community so that the love upon which the structure of the whole community is built will be free from insincerity. Let every Christian be content with their proper place and function. The society to which we belong is one body with many members and we are all related one to another.
Blessing to all in the Name of the +Father, the +Son and the +Holy Spirit. Amen.
Fr. “Abouna” Gregori, SSJt., Cor-Bishop