Thursday, June 17, 2004

Christian Heritage - June 17 - The Believer and the Unbeliever

When I hear that Christ was crucified I am filled with amazement at his love for us, but to the unbeliever this shows weakness. When I hear that Christ became a servant I am astonished at his solicitude for us, but to the unbeliever this is a disgrace. When I hear that Christ died I marvel at his power, since he was not conquered by death, but instead put an end to death. The unbeliever, however, sees Christ's death as a sign of helplessness.

The unbeliever regards the resurrection as pure fiction, but I accept the proven facts and venerate God's saving plan. In baptism the unbeliever sees only water, but I perceive not only what meets the eye, but also the purification of the soul by the Holy Spirit. The unbeliever thinks only the body is cleansed, but I believe that the soul also is made pure and holy, and I am reminded of the tomb, the resurrection, our sanctification, justification, redemption, adoption, and inheritance, of the kingdom of heaven and the gift of the Holy Spirit. I judge outward appearances not by what I see but by the eyes of the mind. When the body of Christ is mentioned, the words have one meaning for me, another for the unbeliever.

John Chrysostom (AD 347-407), In I Cor. 7:1-2

John Chrysostom was the patriarch of Constantinople. (A "patriarch" is the Eastern Orthodox equivalent of what we in the West call an "archbishop". Likewise, an "archimandrite" in the East is much like what an "abbot" is in the West. JFYI.) Chrysostom was a beloved pastor and an even more revered preacher, sometimes expounding Scripture during the liturgy for up to three hours! But his sermons were always a delight to hear. Appropriately enough, his name in Greek means "golden mouth."

No comments: