Thursday, June 24, 2010

Theosis: Man, Creation and Synergy - Part 2

St. John Chrysostom


This is a continuation of the previous entry.

So how is this deification achieved? It is accomplished through the Christian life. This desire for deification is inherent within mankind. This longing must be satiated. Unfortunately, many seek finite things to fill this infinite need. But for those who choose to be united to God through Christ this impossible task becomes possible. While deification is only possible because Christ became man and deified the flesh by uniting it with the divine, mankind must co-operate in order to be deified. Man must offer himself to God. In fact, he must offer himself up wholly to God, leaving nothing behind.

By partaking of the mysteries (or sacraments), man finds himself being joined together with Christ. As Orthodox Christians pray at each Divine Liturgy, “have mercy upon me…make me worthy to partake without condemnation of thine immaculate Mysteries, unto remission of my sins and unto life everlasting…unto the healing of soul and body." When the communicant approaches the chalice and receives the Body and Blood of Christ, these words are pronounced: “the servant of God (name of communicant) receives the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and for life everlasting.” As the Body and Blood are received, the divine and mortal become infused. The gift of deification is received in a tangible way.

However, the gift must be received intentionally. This is the very epitome of synergy. Trusting fully in God and His promises, the Christian must work out his salvation (Philippians 2:12). This work is two-fold. It is both vertical (the relationship between God and Man) and horizontal (the relationship between men). Not only must man seek after Christ, but he accomplishes this by relating appropriately with other men (St. Matthew 25:40). Therefore, it is appropriate to discuss these two planes of work associated with deification.

It is important for Christians to keep a constant focus upon God. In every activity, man should have his intellect directed to God. These actions are a process. Humility is an important part of that. By focusing upon God, man recognizes his own lowliness. St. John Chrysostom taught us to pray that “I am unworthy and am not meet that [God] shouldest enter beneath the roof of the temple of my soul, because it is all empty and dead; and there is in me no worthy place wherein [God] mayest lay [His] head.” With this humility in mind, man approaches God through prayer, fasting, vigils and alms. By these things, as well as study and meditation, Christians draw near to God and partake of his divine nature.

to be continued...

1 comment:

charlene said...

Clint,
This is a beautiful piece, both parts of it. I am so glad you posted it. I especially appreciate the vertical relationship of man and God being incomplete without the horizontal relationship of man to man being right. Thank you too for the list of ways we can be drawn closer to God. It is what I needed to be reminded of today. Please share more on the subject of theosis with us.
charlene