Monday, October 21, 2013

Met Georges Khodr: You are a Temple of the Living God

Arabic original here.

You are a Temple of the Living God

"You are a temple of the Holy Spirit" because you extend Christ into the world. You are His presence and His face among people. This is why the ancient temples made by human hands were invalidated and all the faithful together have become a temple of the Lord, each part working with the others, with Christ as the cornerstone.

"I will be their God and they will be My people." He is speaking of the future. These words are strange at first glance. The truth is that God is not our God unless we confess Him as our Master. The important thing about God is not that He is the Light of the heavens and the earth-- it is that He is my Light, my Savior, and my Lord. And so, if I connect to Him and make Him Master over me through my obedience to Him, then He will be my Lord, because He loved me and revealed His face to me.

"You will be My people," if you know that I am your Lord, who turns to you, who has mercy on you, who grants you kindness and forgiveness. It is not a question of being registered as His people, to carry it on our identity cards. God does not make records on paper. We are not his people because it is said that way are. We become the people of God if we orient our hearts to Him.

"Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord." If our face is turned to the Lord, this means that our face is turned to Him alone. God wants us completely. He wants our entire being, our entire spirit, our entire body. God does not for a single moment permit us to anyone else. Any face that we seek for its own sake, apart from the face of Christ, is the face of an idol, the face of an enemy. Everything that we desire in this world, the entire world, if it separates us from God, from the face of the sole Beloved, is an enemy. "Be separate, do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you."

The issue is not for us to have stature in the community, since God is not a respecter of persons. God does not have classes. A person is God's or he is not. If he is His, then he is His son. In another place the Apostle says, "you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God." Yes, you are sons, but this does not give you favor. It is not a special distinction, but it does give you a duty. You are not sons so that you will take pleasure in it, not so you will brag to people of it, not so that you will say that you are better than others, since God can raise children for Abraham from stone. If you are sons, then a yoke is placed upon you so that you may perfect holiness.

When we remind one of our children about a spiritual duty, he says, "I'm not a saint. I don't want to become a saint. These things are for saints." As though holiness were something for a small group of people, as though it were limited to monks, as though it were not a call to all of us! Completing holiness, this is our call. Completing holiness in the fear of God. Which fear? What does the fear of God mean? "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God." One who wants to connect to his Lord must fear, because we must perfect righteousness in fear and trembling. Perhaps if we closely, sincerely, honestly search our consciences we will observe that we are not necessarily among those who fear God, that we do not live according to God's will, and that we permit ourselves much. Do we believe that there is heaven, the Kingdom, and eternal punishment? If we truly believe this down to the depth of our faith, we cannot live like we are living. First, perfect holiness in this fear.

There is, however, another fear. "In the fear of God, in faith and love, draw near." After fear, love. Love casts out fear, as the Beloved Apostle says. One who advances to knowledge of Christ does not  fear. Despite this, the Apostle says, "perfecting holiness" --the height of perfection-- "in the fear of God." What fear is this that we are talking about now? We are talking about that fear that afflicts one who loves when he wishes to remain forever with the one whom he loves. The one who loves does not want to depart from the beloved. Our fear is of Christ leaving us. Our fear is of Him not turning to us. This is true death. This is the only calamity. Each of us imagines that it would be a calamity to lose money, health or a loved one. The great problem, the only injury, is for Christ to disregard us, which He does if we disregard Him. Thus the Apostle says, "perfecting holiness in the fear of God." You fear being alone, without Christ.

This is what the Apostle is saying to us, so that we will realize that the most important thing is for God to be our God and for us to become His people, so that we arrive at the holiness for which the Lord came into the world.

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