The word Holy means “set apart for a specific and exclusive use.” Something or someone who is holy is singularly dedicated to a single purpose and action. No wonder the Church gives us the gift of marriage as an icon of faithfulness and dedication to teach us about our true purpose in belonging only to Jesus.
Being faithful is the whole purpose of the Christian’s life. And the only way to be faithful is to love Jesus more than I love myself; more than I love my own comfort; more than I love even my own mother and father. Only that kind of singular love can help me avoid the temptations to unfaithfulness by dividing my loyalties and loving other “gods.”
So, how do we grow in faithfulness to Jesus?
Look at our lesson today in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12:
Brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from unchastity; that each one of you know how to take a wife for himself in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the heathen who do not know God; that no man transgress, and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we solemnly forewarned you. For God has not called us for uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. But concerning the love of the brethren you have no need to have any one write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do love all the brethren throughout Macedonia. But we exhort you, brethren, to do so more and more, to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we charged you; so that you may command the respect of outsiders, and be dependent on nobody.
The key to faithfulness is community! Look at how St. Paul teaches these Thessalonians how to be faithful – “Learned from us how you ought to live.” You are never going to grow in faithfulness by yourself. You absolutely need the Body of Christ, the Church, to learn what faithfulness looks like in an every day life. We learn how to be faithful by reading the lives of the saints; by rubbing shoulders with our brothers and sisters in our local parish; by developing a consistent relationship with a spiritual father in regular confession and allowing him to help us to stay focused on Christ.
We need each other. Period!
God’s will for you is to be “sanctified” made holy and pure by this lifestyle of faithfulness in participating in the life of the Church through prayer, liturgy, the Divine Mysteries, and making normal a purposeful Orthodox Way of living every day. And the only way to embrace this lifestyle is by learning how to be faithful to our spouse. The spiritual discipline of marriage is meant to teach you how to be faithful to God.
This gift of marriage between one man and one woman for one lifetime is designed to build the character of faithfulness; the habits of faithfulness that are necessary to successfully live a whole life dedicated to one person for one lifetime. It’s just impossible in this day and age to escape the caustic nature of our loss of the character of faithfulness and devotion in our modern life. And that is seen in our struggle with the whole concept of marriage. People think marriage is about making me happy, when it was designed to teach me to be faithful! In fact, the whole of the Orthodox Way of living is meant to reform your understanding of what a “normal” human life is supposed to be! This life is meant to help you escape the dead-end sentimentality that you are supposed to be “happy” or “comfortable” or “worry-free.” All these false notions only succeed in making you bitter or angry or disillusioned at how far short your own life is to these false expectations.
But a chaste and holy life reorients your expectations to the singular and disciplined wisdom of becoming by grace what Christ is by nature!
Today, is your life chaste and holy? Are you learning how to be faithful to Christ as a devoted wife is faithful to her husband? Being faithful and consistent is the whole purpose behind being Orthodox on Purpose.
P.S. Lord strengthen my will today through repentance and discernment to understand the purpose of my life is meant to prepare me for life with You forever, and help me escape the deadly false delusions of false expectations. Instead, Holy Lord Who loves mankind, grant me to see You and You alone as my only goal and true joy! Give me Your grace to fast and pray this Winter Lent to grow in my faith. Amen.