Epistle Reading
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be! Near the end of this morning’s Epistle reading, we find a 3 verse encapsulation of how God wants us to live. St. Paul writes—“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17). The final verse in this section is a word to carry us through life—“understand what the will of the Lord is.” To know God, to see God, to know God’s will…these are all saying the same thing. The purpose of human life is to know the will of God. When I know God’s will then I have experience of God, I know God, and consequently I know myself, and what God would have me to do. This is important enough that St. Paul mentions it twice in this morning’s reading. Early on he writes, “find out what is acceptable to the Lord” (Eph. 5:10). This is what matters in life. The society we’re a part of would have us believe that we can live however we’d like—there is no longer good and evil, but what’s right for me. And even many Christians today have adopted the posture of our culture—truth, God’s will, moral behavior, Christian living—none of these things are sacred, but they’re up to how we want to live. God and His Gospel are constantly being re-defined by those outside the Church to fit with whatever agenda happens to be popular this week. And sometimes we also have this struggle on an individual level. We interact with this society that tells us our will is really all that matters, and it’s very difficult for that constant message to not have an impact on how we live. So we come into the Church, and we’re reminded again Who God is, and what the fullness of the Gospel really says. Perhaps for us, as Orthodox Christians, our biggest problem is not the temptation of society to change or re-interpret the Gospel. But because of these influences, and because of our own sinful shortcomings, we fail to live the Gospel with intensity. We fail to understand the will of the Lord. We fail to seek first the kingdom of God with the knowledge that everything we need will be provided by our loving Saviour. If we truly believe in this God that we worship, then His will for our lives is all that matters. What we want is irrelevant—what is the desire of our Creator, that’s what matters. And no matter why we fail to see the will of God for our lives, failing to do so is a tragedy. The Creator of all, Who became man, and offers us a share in the fullness of His life; He knows what’s best for our lives. His only desire is for the salvation of the human race. And His will for our lives is something we’re meant to know. The Scriptures say ask and you will be given, knock and the door will be opened, seek and you will find. If we don’t see and understand the will of the Lord, the Fathers tell us we’re not seeking to see the face of the living God, to hear His word, we’re not seeking with out whole heart. The most basic step in seeking the will of God for our lives is to place ourselves in the stream of His will. Be members of His Body, follow the commandments of Christ…a life based on the Gospel is already a life in touch with the will of God. And as He wills for us to understand more, things specific to our lives, then we will. Contrary to popular belief, there are two paths in life. The Church has taught this from the beginning, in fact, earlier in the chapter our Epistle reading is from, St. Paul has the same teaching. There are two paths in life—light/dark, wise/fool, will of God/way of the fallen and sinful world. We can be among those who fulfill their hearts desires for physical pleasures for the span of an earthly human life, and with all those who choose the path of darkness and foolishness and sin, we’ll have our reward. Or we can be among those who seek the will of God with all our hearts—standing resolutely in the face of every temptation, refusing to budge, waiting on God. Seeking God in unceasing prayer, tears of repentance, following the Gospel of Christ without compromise. Understanding at all times what the will of God for our lives is. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!