“Being precedes doing!” I heard the phrase and thought to myself “I’m not sure I understand what that is supposed to mean?” And, as I listened to the speaker longer, my confusion just grew.
I think what the professor was trying to say was our actions flow from who we really are. And he was trying to get us to understand that it is the interior battle of slaying the “dragons” inside of us that must be our focus if we are ever to hope to change how we behave. And I think that’s exactly right EXCEPT saying it and actually doing it are two very different things! We certainly are all called, as Christians, to “BE” holy, but WHAT does that actually mean, and HOW am I supposed to accomplish this?
Look at our lesson today in 1 Peter 1:1-25; 2:1-10:
Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you invoke as Father him who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake. Through him you have confidence in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
St. Peter writes the churches and says that God will judge us “according to his deeds.” And he says that should cause us to conduct ourselves “with fear throughout the time of your exile.” What does he mean by exile? Well, nothing less than the reality that we cannot consider where and when we are in this present life as eternal. But we must see ourselves as strangers in this mortal life.
And here is where Peter starts to help us understand what he means when he says we are to “be” holy and to “gird up” our minds (discipline how we think) and to “hopefully” on the grace that will be shown to you when Jesus is revealed at His dread judgment seat!
It has everything to do with your FIRST understanding that you are meant for God alone! Your life doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to God. That’s why we have to FIRST start with the way we think. We have to discipline our thoughts about ourselves, our lives, our priorities, our desires, and those around us. Our minds MUST lead us to the sober truth, and not allow our thinking to become intoxicated by our desires.
Peter goes on to remind his readers that we are redeemed (saved FROM) a futile life focused on the temporary, rather than investing in eternity. And that’s what drives our disciplining of our desires. The passions tempt us with temporary “feel good” moments, but a disciplined mind invites us to value eternity over the temporary! And what gives us hope? The grace, the mercy, that Jesus shows us in calling us to embrace His life and His strength instead of just depending on ourselves. We turn in worship to Him in the full confidence that He will add His strength to our desire for Him in our lives and that’s what finally focuses us on WHO we belong to and not on just WHAT our desires want in any given moment!
So, today, are you holy? I mean do you live as if you belong to God and Him alone? Or are you finding yourself divided up into different temporary loyalties that never help you become WHO you were created to be? By disciplining your mind first and using the tools of your faith to focus your thinking, you can be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Dear Lord, You are Holy, and Your Holiness invites me to be holy like You. But, Lord, I live in an unholy world; a world that is gripped by divided loyalties and confused devotions. Help me to choose the singular path of loving You above all other loves and grant me the courage and strength to focus my energies and desires toward You and You alone. Having granted me this grace, help me to share this singular vision with others and become by Grace what you are by Nature. Amen.