WHAT MAKES A CHRISTIAN
It has been said that Christians cannot be distinguished from the rest of mankind by country, speech, or customs. For the Orthodox Christian this is an incorrect statement.
Throughout history, there have been Orthodox kingdoms, beginning with Saint Constantine through the time of the last royal family in Russia, the holy passion-bearers Czar Nicholas and his most august wife and family. Today, sadly, this age has ended and the Orthodox are sojourners upon the Earth.
They say that we do not have a homeland – we are not connected to the cities of this world for we seek the heavenly kingdom. They assert that we do not have a unique language. Indeed we do speak a unique language – the language of love, liturgy, and psalmody. We use such foreign terms as compunction, repentance, contrition – terms that are almost unknown in this day. We use terms that would make the ancients proud: homo-ousios, hypostasis, and even pre-eternal. Again, terms the world cannot comprehend.
We have a unique culture – we preserve unique customs and follow a peculiar manner of life. We have unique cuisine – we spend nearly half of the year observing fasting and have our own recipes. We have our own exercises and past-times – we practice somewhat odd exercises of stillness, prostrations, standing for long-periods in prayer.
Our teachings are not derived from the wisdom of this world, nor are they invented by the ingenuity or speculation of men. We are not afraid of book learning but rather encourage learning by experience. We deem most necessary the teachings that are revealed – other teachings will pass away.
We can be found in nations across the globe; and while we are citizens of these earthly lands, our glance is ever set to our true homeland.
Though we conform to the customs of earthly homes in dress, dialect, amid the general mode of life, and yet we demonstrate a marked and remarkable structure of life. The world may see something unique about us, but it cannot fully comprehend this difference.
We dwell in earthly cities but only as guests and aliens. We take part in everything as citizens and endure everything as aliens. Every foreign land is our homeland, and every homeland is a foreign land to us. We marry and given to marriage like everyone else. We beget children, and treasure life, unlike our contemporaries.
Countries of this world enforce laws and we obey these laws, so long as they do not counter the laws of our Lord and through our manner of life we surpass these laws.
We love all men, though we are persecuted by all. We are die but we live in our Christ.
We are as poor as beggars, and yet we are rich, for to us is the Kingdom of Heaven. Though we may be lacking in worldly good, yet we have everything in abundance.
We are dishonored, and yet we receive glory in this very dishonor. We are insulted, and just in this we are vindicated.
We are abused, and yet we bless. We are assaulted, and yet we show tolerance.
We blessed when men shall revile and persecute us, and say all manner against us falsely for the Lord’s sake.
We shall rejoice and be glad, for our reward is great in heaven.