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578Homily for 12/16/14 - PS - religion

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  • David
    Feb 16, 2014
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      1 Cor 6:12-20

      Some sort of religious belief seems to have always been part of the
      human psyche and culture. Wherever we find historical or archeological
      evidence of a human society, there is always some indication of a
      religion. There are those who would explain this simply by saying that
      religion is the response to finding out that there are some things which
      man does not control. Faced with forces and events beyond human control,
      man then assumes that there must be some greater power – a god – who is
      in control of those forces and he then creates a religious system to
      somehow appease that god in order to exert some control over his
      environment. This is the basic reasoning that is behind the naturalistic
      and atheistic explanation for the existence of religion in every human
      culture. The reasoning then goes on to describe a process of
      institutionalization and the use (or misuse) of religion to control the
      lives of the members of that society resulting in the modern
      institutions of religious belief and practice.

      The dictionary defines religion as “the belief in a god or an organized
      system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god� and this
      is a good definition for most cases. However, our Christian faith is not
      a religion by this definition. Yes, Christianity does encompass a belief
      in God and a more or less organized system by which God is worshipped,
      but the Christian faith is much more than that. To begin, God is not
      simply some higher power or some super highly evolved version of
      intelligent life – God is the creator of the universe and as such is
      both within the universe and outside it at the same time. He created the
      universe for a purpose and created us for a purpose. It is true that we
      worship Him and offer Him praise and honor which is His due as the
      creator of all, however, there is more. He has created us for a purpose
      and that purpose to live in communion with Him. The Christian faith is
      not only a religion which serves to worship God, but it is also the
      means by which we enter into a living communion with God and participate
      in His life.

      The simplest purpose of religion is to appease a god so that he won’t
      harm us. The next purpose is to influence the god so that he will reward
      us and use his power for our purposes. The next step is to somehow
      convince the god that he is on our side and so not only will he help us
      but he will also harm our enemies (or even just those who aren’t with
      us). All of this is petty and short sighted and falls far short of what
      the Christian faith is. We worship God in order to know Him and draw
      near to Him so that we can fulfill the purpose for which He made us to
      enter into a living communion with Him. This is where the Christian
      exceeds the definition of religion. Not only do we believe in God and
      seek to worship Him, but more than this, the Christian faith shows us
      the way and means to enter into that living communion with God.

      The Apostle expresses this very thought today in saying, “Know ye not
      that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you� and “he
      that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit� (with Him). We who have
      embraced the Christian faith and who have entered into the Church
      through the sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation have become the temple
      of the Holy Spirit – that is we have ourselves become the dwelling place
      of God, the place where He is worshipped. Everything that we do now
      impacts that worship – either enhancing it and building it up, or sadly
      diminishing it and destroying it. Whenever we sin, we cloud the worship
      of God within our hearts and we mar and defile the temple in which God
      has chosen to dwell. Therefore the Apostles speaks harshly to his
      spiritual children (and to us) who are caught in the nets of sin,
      warning them (and us) to abstain from the service of their lusts and
      passions which only defile the temple of God which they (and we) have
      become. He encourages them, instead, to glorify God in their bodies – by
      those things which they do and the way in which they live their lives.

      The Apostle begins his instruction by pointing out that all things are
      given to us for a purpose and for all things in this life and in this
      world there is a proper place and purpose. Everything can be used to
      further this purpose of entering into communion with God. By the same
      token everything can be misused and so detract from that purpose. This
      concept of the proper use of everything in our lives is a central point
      in the Christian life. The Apostle says first that all things are
      lawful, but not all things are profitable. By this he means that God has
      made the whole world as the arena in which we work out our salvation and
      because of that nothing that God has made is inherently evil. Thus
      everything in our world has its proper place in God’s order of creation.
      (As the Apostle says, “meats for the belly and the belly for meats:�)
      But because of sin, this order has been disturbed and the door to misuse
      creation is opened. The Apostle also states this plainly saying, “All
      things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of
      any.� meaning that when we come “under the power� of the things of
      creation by our sinful desires and passions, we have begun to misuse
      that which God has created and the temple of God which is the body is
      defiled.

      Because we live in a world which, because of our sin, has fallen into
      chaos and in which the divine order is distorted, there are frequent
      opportunities and temptations to misuse what God has given to us and to
      therefore fall “under the power� of our sinful passions and from there
      into sin. We are so inundated by this chaos that sin seems, at times,
      almost natural. In order to help us set our own temple (that is our own
      body) in order, the Church gives us the discipline of the fast wherein
      we impose an order of abstinence upon our passions and desires which
      weakens and even breaks their control over us. For this reason we
      abstain from certain foods for a period of time, married couples abstain
      from the marriage bed, we all abstain from certain other pleasures and
      entertainments (parties, television, movies, etc). For this brief period
      we voluntarily set aside those things which are otherwise lawful so that
      God’s order might be established in our lives and we might therefore
      more easily walk on the path of salvation amidst the chaos of the world.

      The words of the Apostle which closed the section of the epistle that we
      read today portray for us that beautiful truth, “know ye not that your
      body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of
      God…� He then tells us what it is that we must therefore do in our lives
      in order that we might truly honor and worship God who dwells within us
      saying, “therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which
      are God’s. In this manner, we fulfill the purpose for which we were
      created to enter into union and communion with God who dwells within us.

      --
      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org