A Relationship

The God of Christianity is one Who invites us into a relationship

One of the primary differences between Islam and Christianity has to do with the basic view of the nature of God. Islam teaches total surrender to a god who demands submission. There is no invitation to enter into a relationship, freely, nor is there room for an individual to choose, or not choose, to love his Creator, for the god of the Muslims is far above his creation. In Islam there is no real possibility of having a personal relationship with their god.

By contrast, the God of Christianity is one Who invites us into a relationship that is personal, and like all personal relationships based on love, we are free to choose, or not, to commune with a God Who is, by His very nature, in relationship. Our God is worshiped in Trinity, and this image of the Trinity is the basis of the image of the Church, which is one of mutual love. The God we worship in Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is One God, and our response to the invitation from this One God, is to enter into communion with our nous, our soul, and our body, our own triune nature.

There is no force behind this invitation, for we are free to choose, or not, just as any relationship based on love allows both parties to be free to choose, or not. Our obedience is a religious act that must be free, and it must be based on love.

Our Lord Jesus Christ taught using parables, precisely because he was inviting us to freely choose to follow him, and to keep the commandments. He showed us the way to eternal life, not by giving commands as the Son of God, but by being a loving teacher Whose wisdom was imparted in a way that left the choice up to us. His Apostle Peter demonstrated this same style of teaching when he told his fellow disciples that he was going fishing. Peter didn’t say they were going fishing, but only that he was going fishing, thus leaving his friends with a choice. They were free to go fishing, or not.

Muhammad, by contrast, gave his followers specific laws that must be followed, including total submission to god, and should they ever renounce Islam, they would face a penalty of death. This lack of freedom in the teachings of Muhammad has its roots in his failure to teach about the notion of person.

In Christ we have the image of the Pantocrator, a fresco that is traditionally the primary focus in the dome of an Orthodox temple. The Pantocrator is He Who holds all things in His hands, through His love and forbearance. This God of Christianity does not punish, He educates, just as Christ educated his disciples through the use of parables.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Friday February 2, 2018 / January 20, 2018
Week of the Publican and the Pharisee. Tone one.
Fast-free Week. Fast-free

Venerable Euthymius the Great (473).
New Hieromartyr Paul priest (1940).
Venerable Laurence the Recluse (13th-l4th c.) and Venerable Euthymius the Silent (14th c.), of the Kiev Caves.
Venerable Euthymius of Syanzhemsk (1470).
Martyrs Inna, Pinna, and Rimma, disciples of Apostle Andrew in Scythia (lst-2nd c.).
Martyrs Bassus, Eusebius, Eutychius, and Basilides at Nicomedia (303).
Martyr Anna at Rome.
Martyrs Therses and Agnes.
St. Leo the Great, confessor, emperor of the East (474) (Greek).
New Martyr Zacharias in Patrai in Morea (1782) (Greek).
Blessed Peter the Customs Inspector of Constantinople (6th c.) (Greek).
St. Neophytus of Vatopedi, Mt. Athos (14th c.).
St. Euthymius, patriarch of Turnovo (ca. 1400).
Venerable Euthymius of Archangelsk (1523).
St. Theodore Kuzmich of Tomsk (1864).
St. Ekvtime (Kereselidze) the Confessor (1944) (Georgia).

The Scripture Readings

Matthew 11:27-30

27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Hebrews 13:17-21

17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Prayer Requested

18 Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably. 19 But I especially urge youto do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.

Benediction, Final Exhortation, Farewell

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Luke 6:17-23

Jesus Heals a Great Multitude

17 And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, 18 as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. 19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.

The Beatitudes

20 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you poor,
For yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
For you shall be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now,
For you shall laugh.
22 Blessed are you when men hate you,
And when they exclude you,
And revile you, and cast out your name as evil,
For the Son of Man’s sake.
23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!
For indeed your reward is great in heaven,
For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. The Monastery is under the omophore of The Most Rev. Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. 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.

6 comments:

  1. Excellent mosaic of Christ Pantocrator from the cathedral of Cefalú in Sicily, completed post-schism, in the 12th century. FACTVS HOMO FACTOR HOMINIS FACTIQUE REDEMPTOR IVDICO CORPOREVS CORPORA CORDA DEVS: [As] The Maker of man, and the Redeemer of that which I made, having become [Myself] a Man, judge the flesh Who was made Flesh, [and] as God, I judge the heart (soul/nous).

    The Gospel text is John 8:12 which begins in Greek and concludes with Latin: I am the Light of the world: he who followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

    Father Abbot, wonderful choice of this ikon for this lesson. I am also asked, Don’t we all just worship the same God of Abraham? Absolutely not. The Forerunner John was the last and culmination of the Prophets, since he announced, and baptized Christ our Lord. The Baptist is the bridge of the Old and New Testaments. More than half a millennium later, God would not have decided that He changed His mind and thought to send one more prophet for us, after the Fact (of the Incarnation).

    Final thought: if we do not cultivate a deep relationship with our Saviour as our Redeemer, we are in grave danger of hearing these terrible words at the Judgement, Who art thou? I do not know thee. Depart from Me.

    Thank you, Father Tryphon, for this reminder, when we are socially pressured to be politically correct, perhaps to the point of compromising our Faith.

  2. How do we reconcile the idea of Christ teaching in parables as a means to engage our freedom of choice with His own statement that He taught in parables because the prophets said that Israel would hear, but not understand? It always sounded to me like Jesus was being deliberately cryptic in many public situations and only explained the meaning later to His disciples. The Calvinists will say that God predetermined that most of Israel wouldn’t believe, so that’s why Jesus taught that way. I don’t think it’s necessary to go that far given that in many cases, only a minority of Israel ever served God faithfully from the beginning. The prophets were just extrapolating forward.

    “This God of Christianity does not punish…” He does discipline as a parent would, according to the letter to the Hebrews. Is chastisement different than punishment? I grew up Catholic, though never experienced the knuckle-bruising nuns of Catholic schools. My grandmother’s theology was a bit scary for a kid, though. I’ve seen the extremes of teaching from that end to Protestant denominations that didn’t have much place in their theology for discipline. How do I know what in my life is divine discipline or just the regular knocks of life?

      1. I am a former Calvinist, but am now converting to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The way Muslims and Calvinists understand God is very similar. Calvinists view the world in terms of Law, crime, and punishment only. God’s justice is greater than God’s mercy. It is more important for God to maintain His sovereign control over all things than to have a relationship with His creature. God creates all of His grace including His love. God’s love for the “elect” is a created grace. I never believed God loved anyone…He only tolerated some in order to build a reputation and prove He can be merciful.

        I have left that false gospel, but I love all of my family in that tradition and I pray for them. Please, everyone pray for the Calvinists.

  3. Seems kind of wrong to say that Muslims don’t have a personal relationship with God. They pray to him, choose to obey or not obey him, keep him in remembrance. Isn’t that what Chistians do in their personal relationship? Both faiths believe that rejecting God leads to death. They don’t seem to be like theist who believe in a God but don’t think God is involved in his creation. Not sure how personal relationship is being defined.

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