Discovering God

The importance of discovering God for oneself

Some time ago I had the mother of a boy of about thirteen arrive at the monastery, son in tow. She was upset because her son had declared himself an atheist and she was afraid he was in danger of eternal damnation. I sat down with the boy and told him that each one of us has to come to a personal awareness of the reality of God for ourselves. Doubting the existence of God, I told him, is all part of building a personal relationship with God. If we simply go through the motions without seeking a real relationship, we might as well be atheists. My own youth was filled with great spiritual struggle, as I sought to fill the void I felt within my heart.

Most young people struggle with questions about things eternal. It is part of relationship building. Like the young lad who visited with his mom, I struggled with doubt. The only difference was that my struggle happened during my college days. It was a period of time when I was filled with anxiety about the future, and fearful of making the wrong decisions. I understand the issues facing young people today because I was a young man with the same fears, and struggling with many of the same issues.

Knowing as I do now the importance of being honest, I told the mother to let her son explore for himself the reality of God. It was better for him to question the existence of God than to simply feign belief. At the same time I told the boy he needed to attend church with his family because it was important to be obedient to his parents and supportive of his younger brother. After all, one does not tell his parents that he’s not going to attend school just because he doesn’t see his studies as important.

The God this boy was rejecting was the very false image of God that I have long rejected. The God I have come to know personally is not the same god I rejected in my youth. The God revealed in Jesus Christ is the One Whom I’ve personally experienced and Who first sought me out.

If we are to have a personal relationship with God we must be open and honest and unafraid to question. The Lord wants us to be real with Him. Like the sound relationship that one sees in a long and successful marriage, a relationship with God must first and foremost be based in honesty and truth. Love and trust come with time and experience. Our relationship with God is something that builds over time, and like all good relationships results in a sense of peace and certainty.

It is this peace and joy that I want to impart to young people. My personal relationship with Christ is something that I want to share, and not just with Orthodox youth who may make a pilgrimage to the monastery. I KNOW God exists because I’ve experienced His great love in a personal way, and it is this certainty of the reality of God that leads me to reach out to others. They, like me, need to discover God for themselves, and build upon a relationship that began with their conception.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Friday May 26, 2017 / May 13, 2017
Afterfeast of the Ascension. Tone five.
Fast. Fish Allowed

Virgin-martyr Glyceria at Heraclea (141) and with her Martyr Laodicius, jailer of St. Glyceria.
New Hieromartyrs Basil, Alexander and Christopher, Hieromartyr Macarius and Martyr Sergius (1922).
103 New Hieromartyrs of Cherkassk (20th c.).
Righteous Virgin Glyceria of Novgorod (1522).
Translation of the relics of St. Macarius, archimandrite of Obruch or Kanev (1678).
Martyr Alexander of Rome (298).
St. Pausicacius, bishop of Synnada (606).
St. George the Confessor of Constantinople, with his wife and children (ca. 842).
Venerable Euthymius of Athos the translator (1028) (Georgia).
Venerables Amphilochius (1452), Macarius (1462), and Tarasius(1440), abbots, and Theodosius (15 c.), monk, of Glushitsa Monastery (Vologda).
St. Servatius, first bishop of Maastricht (384).
Martyrs killed by the Latins at the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos (Georgia).
Monkmartyr John of the Iveron Monastery on Mt Athos (Greek).
St. Sergius the Confessor of Constantinople (9th c.) (Greek).
Venerable Nicephorus, priest of the monastery of Ephapsios (Greek).
Hieromartyr Alexander of Tiverias. (Greek).
St. Leander of Seville (600).

The Scripture Readings

Acts 19:1-8

Paul at Ephesus

19 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”

So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”

4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”

5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all.

8 And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God.

John 14:1-11

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

14 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

The Father Revealed

7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon is Igumen of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.

3 comments:

  1. Dear Abbot Tryphon,
    It is no coincidence that these posts come at a time when I am engaging in a dialogue with my nephew about the existence of God. Our conversations began just a couple of weeks ago. He is an adult, living and working in a major metropolitan area, and is very open to communication. I have no choice but to begin with him in the place where he is at. At this point we are exchanging our thoughts, our beliefs. He says he comes to a “dead end” when Christians insist it is “their way or no way”. What he means is that this attitude causes for him an end to any further dialogue. Apparently he has encountered this attitude, either in conversations, or implied in things he has seen or read. He gets frustrated when Christians will not concede to another world view, accepting other “truths” as well. The things he has a problem with, what he describes as the basics of “organized religion” are 1) the existence of a spiritual realm 2) accepting only our definition of God as the correct one 3) Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (indeed, THE stumbling block) 4) the co-existence of science and religion, especially the topic of evolution.
    Abbot Trypon, I ask for your prayers for both of us. If there is anything else you can add that has not be addressed in your posts, I would surely appreciate it. Thank you, Father.

  2. Reading the above post calls to mind some observations I’ve had along these same lines, concerning others in my life, if you don’t mind my chiming in. I don’t know if they’ll help any with your nephew.
    Christ being the major stumbling block, is in some cases, I think, a timidity about having a personal relationship with God. People like to talk about “the Universe” arranging their lives this way or that. I think we attempt to avoid accountability in this way, acknowledging the existence of a higher force while avoiding any kind of work on our lives or genuine adherence to higher principles . Christianity fosters consistency of being–something which doesn’t exist in ordinary life– by fostering accountability. “The Universe” can’t help us with this. We can’t force our views on others, but when one understands that life isn’t about likes and dislikes, then real work becomes possible.
    Regarding evolution–this is a huge topic. 99.9% of all people fail to understand that natural selection (the Darwinian principle based on “random mutation”) and evolution are not the same thing. When Orthodoxy speaks of the nous–an idea apparently lost to other religions and sects–it touches upon true evolution, which is the unfolding of a higher function, possible only through conscious labor and help from God and those of His servants who have gone before us. There is much is in history, art, literature and people’s personal experiences, to support the existence of the nous, but nothing in natural selection to account for it. Survival and ordinary life do not require it–quite obviously. There are other ways of understanding Nature that do not require the insufficient theory of natural selection.
    The fossil record shows that when life evolves it evolves as One, though relics from other ages may remain, just as in the hymn For All Those Who Have Fallen Asleep, prays for all those who have ever lived to be elevated as One.
    There is a great deal of vague assumption in present day Darwinian mentality, which has totally polluted people’s minds. So-called educated people actually believe that after a billion years the mud just accidentally discovered how to organize itself into cellular life. Scientific experiments have been conducted to try to prove just that, and they have all failed. Meanwhile, the term, “Miracle of Life” has fallen into disuse.
    Rationalism attempts to explain things by describing them. But all it does is describe them, and through a very narrow keyhole, at that.

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