I admit it, I can be a workaholic. One of my greatest, personal, fears is being “ineffective” so I work really hard to “produce;” to “get results;” to achieve. Now, that isn’t necessarily bad as long as our definitions are correct!
Ah, and there’s the rub! What do I mean when i say “effective” or “successful” or “productive?” Forgetting to do that hard work means there is a high likelihood of truly missing the point. In fact, most of the problems of my own life can be traced to a misidentification, not of my intentions (that’s for another day) but of my goals!
Look at our Lesson today from St. Peter in 1 Peter 1:1-10:
SIMON PETER, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promise, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature. For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these things are yours and abound, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall.
You see, St. Peter here gives us some of the loftiest words of all the scriptures. Pretty amazing when we remember the Peter of the Gospels as a fisherman and not a very patient man at that! It’s amazing to see the power of the Day of Pentecost on this great saint of the Faith! St. Peter tells us that we are intended to become “partakers of the divine nature.”
And this invitation to enter into deep and life-changing communion with God Himself reorients our very understanding of what it means to be “effective” or “successful.” It means we are invited to “escape corruption.” And it means that being effective means putting into practice this freedom from corruption in our everyday lives. St. Peter uses the word “supplement” and I love that! Add these to your proclaimed faith: Virtue, Knowledge, Self-control, Steadfastness, Godliness, Brotherly Affection, and Love.
All the above is already yours in partaking of the divine nature through the Mystery of the Eucharist, so make sure these are activated in your life and when you do, they will “keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful.” It is the very reality of being in intimate communion with God, of partaking of His divine nature, that liberates your life from ineffectiveness. And being effective means being actively growing in your relationship with God in and through His Church!
No wonder St. Peter, after offering us this lofty laundry list of effective living encourages us to be more zealous to confirm our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ. It is in this zealousness that will protect us from falling away from this precious faith. Every time I think of this I think of that moment in the Divine Liturgy when I add hot water to the chalice of wine at the altar with these words “The zeal of Faith, Full of the Holy Spirit.” As I pour the hot water into the chalice the visible steam rises and the wine is made “warm” by the zeal of the faithful! Such a powerful image of the necessary effectiveness of all the people of the parish to be active, engaged, and participating in this partaking of the divine nature!
Today, are you effective in your faith? Are you aware of God’s invitation to you to “partake” of the divine nature and to become a person who radiates the warmth of the Spirit in your life? Perhaps it’s time to redefine effectiveness to be being effective first in faith so that all other desires and work in our lives can be shaped by that reality. You’re guaranteed to be Orthodox on Purpose if you do!
P.S. Another week of devotions is finished and now we look to the weekend. Saturday night Great Vesprs and Sunday Divine Liturgy invite us to be effective in partaking of God’s life. I pray you have a wonderful weekend and I’ll see you in Church!