Is the Church a “Reality” for you?

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Someone once said, when asked why they find it so important to attend church regularly, that they go to church because for them; “The church is where I find my reality.”  Wow…what a statement.  Not only is that comment full of humilty…but also full of truth! 

For us, as Christians, the simple truth…is that we believe our true reality is that we were created to be with God.  But, because sin entered the world…we fall short of being able to participate fully in that reality. 

But, when we come to church…we believe that we truly do enter into the joy of heaven, and fully have the opportunity to commune with our God.  And we believe that this is made possible to us because of God’s ultimate love for us in sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ…that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)  This is our true reality!

And we believe that, as Christians, we have the opportunity…and the duty…to reflect that heavenly joy to others around us. 

In Matthew 5:14 & 16, Jesus said in the sermon on the mount; ” You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden…Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  All of us, who are baptised Christians, are called by Christ, Himself, to  be the light of Christ to the whole world.

But that means that in order for our lights to shine in this darkened and cruel world…our lights need to be bright!  And the place we come to learn how to keep our lights bright…is in church.  

We live in a world where people seem to want to do everything possible to tear others down.  We even see this among friends and family sometimes.  But for some reason, people like to look for the weakness in others…or a possible flaw that someone else has.  And when they find it…they are quick to point out that weakness or flaw…in a mean spirited attempt to make the other person feel bad,or in an attempt to make themselves feel superior.  This human behavior doesn’t make sense, but we’ve all experienced it.  And nothing positive really ever comes from it.  All it does it creates what is commonly referred to as drama.  It creates hurt feelings,  it creates broken trust between family and friends, and it ultimately creates sadness. 

But as Christians, we’re called to a higher standard.  And we learn about this standard by coming to church.  St. Paul says in his letter to the Philippians, that we are called to be humble before those around us…not arrogant and quick to point out weakness…but that we should be quick to build each other up…and that we should regard those around us as even better than ourselves. (Phil 2:3)   Because the result of such action is a true reflection of God’s love, which creates healthy relationships, and which brings joy to others around us.  This should be our reality.  And this is the reality we find in church. 

In Matthew 5:19, Christ said that for those who do and teach the Will of God to others, they will be great in the kingdom of heaven.  And as an example of this, the church commemorates individuals (saints, martyrs, church fathers and mothers)  who not only helped to uphold the teachings of the church throughout history, but helped to define the meaning of our faith over a period of four centuries (325-787).  These individuals were teachers, and although they all lived at different times throughout history, they are examples to us of the Christian way of life.  They were spiritual lights to the world, and beacons of humanity for all of  us.  They combined both practice and theory, and whatever they taught, they also put into practice.  And according to St. Francis of Assisi, we don’t need to be scholars or great theologians in order to accomplish this command from Christ.  St.Francis says that, as Christians, we are called to preach and teach the gospel of Christ always…but only when necessary, are we to use words.  We need to be examples to others, and model the Christian way of life…by our actions…and not necessarily by our words only. 

As Christians, we have been given a great opportunity to share the light of Christ with others.  But we cannot do this unless our own lights are burning bright.  So let this become our reality.  Let our reality be to have God’s uncreated light always shine within us.   And let our reality be for God to fill us with understanding about His Holy church.  And let our reality be for us to endure our calling as Christians, so that we may be teachers and preachers  of truth, and so that we may be a beacon of light and reflection of heavenly joy to all those around us

About the Author:

Fr. James is the Director of Youth and Outreach Ministry at the Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, MI. He has started many ministry programs, and unlimited ways for all to become involved with the Church.