Why is man a church?
Interview with a priest Alexander Glebov TV program«Word»:
“Today to the question:“ Are you a believer? ”, - most people answer:“ I have God in my soul and I don’t need mediators ”. How would you comment on the fact that the Church in the mass consciousness is being withdrawn from faith in God?
- The question is very relevant. First of all, a similar question arises from the misunderstanding by many people of the function of the Church, its purpose. Today, the question of the Church is, first of all, the question of church culture, church holidays, and saints. More enlightened people may reflect on Christian philosophy and history. But extremely rarely the question of the Church concerns the essence of the Church itself. Despite the number of churches and the number of people who identify themselves, at least on the fact of their baptism, to the Orthodox faith, the question of what the Church is and, in fact, why it is needed, remains open for many today. Misunderstanding of the Church often leads to criticism.
People’s perception of the Church is not identical with what the Church really is. Therefore, before answering your question, I must say a few words about the ontological nature of the Church and its purpose. The Lord founded the Church with one sole purpose - to continue the work for which God came to this world, became man, suffered, died and resurrected, the work of saving people, because the God-Man Jesus Christ we call Savior. The theological term “salvation” is very different from what we call salvation in our daily life. When we use the word "salvation", we mean the deliverance of a person from some danger. For example, doctors saved the patient, that is, saved his life, cured him and so on. This is understandable to everyone, but the Holy Scripture and after it Christian theology speaks about the salvation of another plan.
Salvation is God's bestowal of eternal life on man. This is his salvation from the limitations, pain and corruption of this world. God is the creator of life, not death. Death entered human life as a result of a wrong human path. This is the wrong way in which, by virtue of the freedom given by God,a man went - he led him to fall away from God, and therefore to fall away from life, because God is life and God is the source of life.
Everything that lives, lives not autonomously, but by virtue of its involvement in God. If this relationship is broken, then life is terminated. This false path that led a person to falling away from God and from life, which brought death to human life as the cessation of life, is called the word "sin." By the way, in Greek, the very word “sin” literally means “missing the target, mistake, miss.”
In order to save man from this state of mortality, God himself becomes Man. He, without ceasing to be God, takes upon himself the fullness of human nature and, like every man, He dies, crosses this line of death, after which, already like God, he commits a new act of creation. Creates a new world for people - a world that is not distorted by sin, which means a world in which there is no place for death where life reigns. This is the kingdom of life, that is, the Kingdom of God, because God is life. The Lord has defined this world, this reality as the goal of human existence, the goal of human life. He defined it as the highest value, moreover, as a value far more significant than our human life itself.
It seems strange to us.Indeed, what could be more valuable and more important than our life? And the Lord says, "No, there is." There is a sphere of being, for which, in some cases, even this life should be abandoned. Remember, the Lord says: "He who wants his life (that is, life) to save, will lose it, and who will lose his life for Me and the Gospel, he will find it" or: "There is no more love than if someone puts life for friends our own ”,“ Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul ”and so on. Such quotes can be continued for a long time.
The Lord established the Church as a means to help a person obtain this eternal salvation. All other functions of the Church are not primary. These are functions such as social service, calls for moral improvement, education. All this can be duplicated by secular institutions, but the Lord has delegated the function of saving people only to his Church and no one else. In the Church, God gives man that which is nowhere else to get. In church sacraments the Lord gives Himself to Himself: His Flesh and His Blood. He unites people with Him, unites them to Himself and guides them to the gate of death to eternity.
Man is mortal.By itself, he cannot overcome death. Christ overcame death, he is risen. And He conducts man to eternity when man becomes His partaker, when he becomes the cell of His resurrected and glorified Body. Communion takes place not on the street or at home, it happens in the church, and those people are mistaken who say that they have their own special relationship with God and they don’t need anyone else, and they don’t need the Church. In this arrogance they reject salvation, reject the gift of eternal life, which the Lord extends to the person in the Eucharistic bowl.
- You said that the goal of the Christian life is the salvation that we receive only through death. Death opens the door to eternal life, it turns out that a Christian in his life should strive for death?
- The Lord, and after Him, the Church does not call for death, but for life. Man inherits eternal salvation not when he dies physically. Physically dying and finding eternal salvation is not the same thing. For physical death can be followed by spiritual death, and perhaps eternal life. Man is born into eternity not when he dies, but when he lives here on earth.
In the Gospel of John there is an episode where Christ talks with the member of the Sanhedrin Nicodemus and tells him that “in order to enter the Kingdom of God, we must be born again”. Perplexed, Nicodemus says: “How is it possible that a person, being already old, may again find himself in the womb of his mother and then be born again?” He understood the words of Christ literally. This “being born again” or being born of water and the Spirit is what we call today the sacrament of baptism, which is again performed in the Church. This is not a repeated act of physical birth or the birth of the human soul, but in the sacrament of baptism, a person receives a different dimension of his life.
He receives into himself, living here on earth, the beginnings of eternity, the beginnings of that world, the beginnings of the kingdom of God, which throughout his life he will have to cultivate. Therefore, it is more correct to speak of physical death as a new stage of human life, and not as the birth of man into eternity. A person is born into eternity or a person rejects eternity here on earth, and death is already a certain result of his life choices. As the apostle Paul wrote: “What a man sows, he will reap: he who sows into flesh shall take corruption, and he who sows into spirit shall reap eternal life.”
- In the sacraments of the Church, the gift of grace is given to man. And what is the contribution of the person?
- From a person in the matter of salvation, one thing is required - faith. Here it is necessary to give explanations, because here the very concept of faith has undergone some kind of inflation. A believer who calls himself is a person who recognizes the existence of God. If we limit the concept of faith to just such a characteristic, then we will have to recognize the devil as the most religious being in the world, because, unlike people, he never doubted the existence of God. The concept of the Christian faith is much deeper.
A believer is a person who trusts God without limit. He who trusts that all that God sends in his life is directed towards his ultimate good, towards his salvation. It is this aspect of our faith that is most doubted because God does not send us bouquets of roses. God sends a cross to his followers, and sometimes this cross is very heavy. To accept pain, sufferings, and trials as God's mercy, as His love, as His care, as something leading to something more, is impossible. This is impossible neither by the power of the human mind, nor by human logic, nor by our notions of justice or of compassion.
This is possible only by faith, only by the infinite trust in God, that God by his providence in this way leads man to eternal salvation. Faith is a gift, faith is a test, faith is a struggle. Sometimes people who claim their faith simply do not understand what they are talking about. At best, they mean that, unlike atheists, they recognize the existence of a higher power in the world, which is called God, but this is where their entire faith is exhausted.
- Father Alexander, what do you think people expect from the Church today?
“People are waiting for the same from the Church, what was expected from Christ by his contemporaries: help and a miracle. If we recall the Gospel story, the people followed Christ when Christ somehow participated in their life, helped them. For example, he performed the miracle of multiplying breads, fed five thousand people, and the next day this crowd wants to proclaim Him king. Resurrected Lazarus - the next day, an enthusiastic people met him in Jerusalem as the Messiah.
But when He began to say that he came to this world not to solve some of their problems, but to give them eternal salvation, and that He is not going to be a king, because His Kingdom is not of this world - He is here He became of no interest to anyone and He was sent to the Cross. The same goes for the church.If a person feels some help from the Church, some benefit, then he agrees to believe, go to the temple, fulfill some church instructions. And if, besides the promise of eternal salvation, he does not have any tangible help, then he simply does not see any sense in it.
Over the years of my ministry, I constantly communicate with people who come to the temple and ask what needs to be done to solve some of my problems. Problems related to health, personal life, professional life and many others. They ask who should pray, who should put candles, but I have never met a person who came to the temple and asked: “What needs to be done to find eternal life?”
It turns out to be a paradox: people come to the Church and try to decide what the Church does not solve, and the only question for which it is necessary to come to the Church and for which the Lord founded the Church is the issue of eternal salvation - it remains the most unclaimed.
Why is man a church?
Why is man a church?
Why is man a church?
Why is man a church?
Why is man a church?