Awake To The Treasure

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Keith Green, an amazingly talented musician and singer from the 1970’s, wrote this:

Like a foolish dreamer, trying to build a highway to the sky
All my hopes would come tumbling down, and I never knew just why
Until today, when you pulled away the clouds that hung like curtains on my eyes
Well I’ve been blind all these wasted years and I thought I was so wise
But then you took me by surprise

Like waking up from the longest dream, how real it seemed
Until your love broke through
I’ve been lost in a fantasy, that blinded me
Until your love broke through

Keith was talking about his conversion to Christianity after having pursued a commercial career as a singer. He described his conversion to Christ as “waking up from a dream.” And this is so typical of the way the scriptures describe coming to Faith. Over and over again we read about “the Light dawning” or “Awake, O sleeper.” There’s something about the transition from being unaware to clarity that describes the constant conversion to becoming more “awake” to the wisdom of the Truth. (by the way, if you want to hear this song, go here https://youtu.be/6fDgG4wXLCA)

Look at our lesson today in 2 Corinthians 4:6-15:

Brethren, it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we too believed, and so we speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Let’s face it, most of your struggles and my struggles with living a consistently faithful life have more to do with a studied forgetfulness of what we already know rather than an ignorance of information. I can’t tell you how many people come into my office for counseling who already know what they ought to do! It’s just that they need my help in “waking up” to this!

But that’s the struggle, isn’t it; to stay awake to the value of the Treasure we ALREADY possess!

So, how do we stay awake? The Fathers called this “nepsis” or wakefulness; attentiveness. And the spiritual life of the Orthodox is meant to teach us how to be wakeful so that the “noetic” life is possible. And that refers to our focus on a constant submitting to the grace of God to polish and make purely reflective the “nous” that part of every human that was meant to reflect God’s radiance!

But, if you are asleep to that purpose, that primary and focused “WHY” for your faith, you will struggle to “remember” (anamnesis) to stay focused on that singular work in your life. And that, my dearest, is the first step: Wake up to the value of the Treasure given to you! This is much harder than it seems, because we have an entire world that is desperately trying to “forget” this Treasure so that they can substitute a lesser “treasure” in its place. “Treasures” like fame, fortune, passions, all conspire to keep me “intoxicated,” “addicted, and asleep to this central reality of my true purpose. As all these voices scream in my ear in an attempt to drown out that “still, small Voice” calling me to wake up to my true self, I decide each day, sometimes each moment, whether I will give in to the Siren Song to stay asleep, or whether I will exercise my Will to turn to the only true labor worth my best and most focused effort!

And this is in spite of my troubles, challenges, sadnesses, victories, accomplishments, successes, that always try to divert my attention to temporary things rather than the eternal Treasure of wakefulness.

Today, are you awake? To be sure, you probably are awake in certain areas of your life. But God desires you to become fully awake in every aspect of your life, and He has preserved in His Church all the wisdom you will ever need to “wake up” from the fantasies that keep you from reflecting His glory and “transcendent power” in your life. This is being Orthodox on Purpose!

P.S. Here’s a note we received just the other day about our “A Journey to Fullness” video series: “So happy this day has come! We just pre-ordered. God bless you and your team, Father Barnabas.” You can pre-order your own set of these videos by clicking the picture below! Thanks.

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2 comments:

  1. I once heard it a friend of mine, an apologist, Ravi Zacharias say in regard to 2 Cor 4:6. He used this statement as a reference to all mankind and said:
    “The pursuit of the Hebrews was idealized and symbolized by light. ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation.’ ‘The people that sat in darkness have seen a great light.’ ‘This is the light that lighteth every man that comes into the world.’

    “The pursuit of the Greeks was symbolized by knowledge. That’s why the Biblical writers say, ‘These things are written that you might know that you have eternal life.’ For the Hebrews, it was light. For the Greeks, it was knowledge.

    “For the Romans, it was glory. The apostle Paul, a Hebrew by birth, a citizen of Rome, living in a Greek city, had to give to them the ideal of his ethic. And he says this: ‘God, who caused the light to shine out of darkness, has caused His light to shine in our hearts, to give to us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus our Lord.’

    “For the apostle Paul, the ultimate ethic was not an abstraction, not symbolized merely by light, not merely by knowledge, not merely by glory, but in the very face of our Lord.

    Since I so respect Ravi, what is the Orthodox position on Ravi’s suggestion? Blessings,
    Mike Carter

    1. Mike,

      Your respect for Ravi Zacharias is well placed. When I was working in Evangelical Christian media, I had the honor of meeting Dr. Zacharias at National Religious Broadcasters one year when I was there with Dr. Charles Stanley.

      Dr. Zacharias is spot on with his observation about St. Paul and this is consistent with the Orthodox understanding of the great mystery of the Incarnation and the central importance of the Person of Christ in the message of the Christian Faith. All of the hopes and dreams of all cultures are synthesized in the Person of Jesus Christ as God unites our mortality to His Divinity in His Son. It is this unique moment in human history with the enfleshing of God in Christ that God heals the false division of the spiritual and the physical. For we Orthodox the Person of Christ, both fully God and Fully man, stands as the Word of the Father, the new Adam, and the only true human Who has ever lived. God recapitulates His creation in His Son, Who, unlike our first father Adam, fulfills the purpose of the Father and thereby invites us to become connected to Him in His Church, the Body of Christ through the unbroken Eucharistic life of His Church. And what’s more, the Church is the continuation of the Mysery of the Incarnation as God continues to enflesh Himself in the Body of His Son through His Church.

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