St. Paisios once said “What I see around me would drive me insane if I did not know that no matter what happens, God will have the last word.” I can relate!
And yet, there are also many wonderful and beautiful people and events happening all the time around us. Why is it so hard to keep a sober perspective about our lives?
Well, one reason is that it’s all too easy to live like there is no God. What protected St. Paisios from despair and insanity? The sure truth that “God will have the last word.” And that’s how we will stay sober and sane in this chaotic world where it seems the passions have become the masters and the disciplined are treated as “crazy” for not participating in this unleashing of the passions to do anything they want! After all, when you read some of the insanity done in the name of “freedom” or “just being myself” you have to wonder what’s happened!
Look at our lesson today in 1 Peter 4:1-11:
Beloved, since Christ suffered in the flesh for us, arm yourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer by human passions but by the will of God. Let the time that is past suffice for doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you do not now join them in the same wild profligacy, and they abuse you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the spirit like God.
The end of all things is at hand; therefore keep sane and sober for your prayers. Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another. As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Just like today, the Christians of St. Peter’s day were faced with their “minority” status. The rest of the world was making fun of the Christians for not participating in the selfish living and behavior that was popular in their day. In fact, St. Peter tells his fellow believers to consider that kind of living to be in the past for Christians. We just don’t live that way anymore. We use to, but not anymore!
Put that kind of living in your past, he tells the Christians. Choices like “licentiousness” belong to your younger days when you made foolish choices before you grew up and out of that kind of thinking. You’ve matured past that silliness now!
And what sobered you up? “The end of all things is at hand.” Now that would be easy to think that St. Peter is talking about the Second Coming of Jesus and the end of history. But that would only be part of the truth here. The reality is that even if I don’t live to see the Second Coming, I will live to see the end of my own world in my own physical death! And keeping in mind my own mortality, my own “end of the world” has a way of sobering me up pretty quick!
But that can also lead me to an insanity of despair if I don’t also contemplate God’s love and His message of salvation to me. To keep sober and sane in a drunk and crazy world means to embrace the timeless wisdom of the Faith that prepares me for “the end” AND, at the very same time, assures me of both hope and joy!
Today, are you struggling with a “crazy” world? Sure. We all are at one point or another in our lives. There is remedy. And it’s found in the sober and sane insight of a purposeful Orthodox life that keeps me focused on eternal things and not the temporary craziness of a world that is drunk with short sighted thinking!