Strength and Hope

Edification, consolation, aids to Theosis. There are enough Orthodox blogs out there willing to point out in greatest detail what is wrong with this world. Holy Orthodoxy isn't about lamenting over what is wrong so much as rejoicing that what is wrong with this world can be made right, can be deified.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Markers, Points of Reference, and Identity

Before Chrismation we spent a great deal of time coming to terms with our selves, asking questions, and doing our best to figure out the answers.

Who am I?

That's a big one. Since we're not taught about having an inherent identity these days, we spend a lot of energy and time defining our selves. We become what we think is best for us, or so we're told. Some choose to identify with their gender, or sexuality. Some go religion shopping. Some choose academics. Some choose a regional identity; nation, county, ethnicity, et cetera. Some choose to define themselves by their political party, or by their career (their profession) Some choose to identify themselves apophatically, that is, by saying who they are by saying how they are not like so and so, or such and such.

When we come to Christ in Baptism and Chrismation all that changes. After all this time, when we think it was us who chose God in Christ, we find out the opposite happened. He chose us. Ours is the only "religion" where God chooses His adherents. After Chrismation, we get this strange feeling like our patrons chose us as well, and even though we can't put our fingers on how or why, we can't shake that knowing. And we find out eventually we aren't the only ones who have gone through such times and experiences.

We realize, after a while, that all our old points of reference, our old definitions of self, conflict with what we learn and experience after Chrismation. The same God who chose us is relentless in getting us to come to another understanding of our selves:

You are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God

All the time, effort, blood, tears, and love we expended to become X, whatever X is, was all for naught. We find our identity in our relationship, in our union with God. Not that we go away, or that we lose our personalities, but that they finally become what they were intended to be from the beginning; we find our identity, our reason for living, our purpose for living, in Who we belong to.

As many as have been Baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.

Not just juridically, but relationally. Which is why the Bible is filled with relational imagery like being grafted into the Vine, marriage, reconciling the Prodigal, et cetera.

So consider the times when we fight to reconcile our past points of reference with our present experiences to be good times, proper times, not bad times. We all go through these times. They are a sign that our graft is taking.

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