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Archive for January 8th, 2011

“Describe a recent ‘Aha!’ moment. What sparked it?”

In fact, it was just yesterday at the Liturgy of the Nativity, and Fr. Michael was reading the Nativity letter from Metropolitan Hilarion.  Again, I’ll have to paraphrase because of my crummy memory, but at one point, Metropolitan Hilarion wrote something to the effect that Adam and Eve’s error was in thinking that they could become like God without participation in His life.

Aha!

Ever since I became Orthodox, one item has bothered me:  the notion that “God became man so that man could become like God.”  I knew that considering oneself “like unto God” was the most audacious manifestation of pride possible, so how could we dare to think that such a thing might be possible?!  How could we possibly “become like God”?!  It just seemed so wrong.  I was a little mollified by the clarification that we become by grace what God is by nature, but still….  One of those things I kept meaning to have explained to me, but whenever I was with someone who could explain it, of course the thought was somewhere out in left field, where it would stay until I heard it again, with a jolt.

Now I’ve got it.   We can become like God, but only by participating in His life. And this is something He desires, so ardently that He participates in our life by taking on flesh, by becoming incarnate.  God becomes man, that man might become like God.

Father Stephen Freeman, in his excellent blog Glory to God for All Things, notes that our Lord came to earth, “not to make bad men good, but to make dead men live.”  (Can’t reference the specific post, but he has so much good stuff on there that you can’t go wrong reading it.)  I think about that a lot.  Now, with this latest piece of the puzzle in place, the Incarnation of Christ makes more sense than ever:  God is life, and by participation in His life, we ourselves come alive.  And without Him, we are dead, so dead that the health-care craze makes no sense whatsoever:  Why obsess over the care of something that must perish in the end, if you aren’t taking care of your soul, which is imperishable?

Christ came not to make bad men good, but to make dead men live.

We become like unto God by participating in His life.

I think I’m beginning to get this!

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