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#90 How Christ Unites Us

Summary:

Technology helps bring us together, sort of. The world is full of divisions that our sins reinforce. True unity only comes in Christ, who overcomes everything that divides us and brings all creation to God.

Questions:

1) What are some ways we can all be united in Christ?

2) What are some ways we can overcome the divisions that separate us?

Links:

Ancient Faith Radio, "Close to Home," Communication

Mystagogy, The Church the Body of Christ

Orthodox Way of Life, Goal: Living in Unity with God

Script:

Hey everybody, this is Steve and lately I've been spending a lot of time at one of my least favorite places in the whole world, the airport. Airports, especially during the holidays, can make us think about the loved ones we're not with, the people we're separated from by space. And sometimes the holidays also make us think about people we can't be with because they passed away, the people we're separated from by time. Technology, things like cell phones and photographs and airports can help us overcome some of the small divisions that separate us in time and space though imperfectly.

 But there are some huge divisions that no technology or act of human will can overcome alone. Overcoming all division and separation happens only in the person of Christ and is central to our life in Him. As my buddy Christian would say "let's theology". Saint Maximos the Confessor, an important Church father and theologian from the seventh century, wrote about the five basic divisions that exist and how they're overcome in Christ.

First, there's the most basic division between created and uncreated, between God Who is not made, Who has no beginning, and everything else, all the things He made, all creation. All creation is divided into the intelligible and the sensible, basically invisible things like the angelic powers and visible things like mountains and trees, or in terms of our lives, visible things like our bodies and invisible things like our souls.

This sensible, visible part of creation is divided into the Heavens above and Earth, where we live. Earth is divided into Paradise, or the Garden of Eden, the place originally set aside for people to live, and the rest of the world. And finally, humanity is divided into maleness and femaleness. Adam and Eve together in Paradise. Unfortunately, our sins harden these divisions. We divide God and creation by forgetting the Lord.

We divide the visible and invisible by creating a false divide between sacred and secular. We divide Heaven and Earth by using the physical world for sinful ends. We divide Paradise and Earth by abandoning the life God prepared for us. And we divide male and female as we continue in the sin of Adam and Eve, who divided themselves from each other and humanity from God. That's something we talked about in episode 66, in case you haven't seen it. Christ's incarnation, His taking on flesh and becoming human, which we celebrate on Christmas day, overcomes all of these divisions and unites all creation with God.

He unites male and female in being born of a virgin, in receiving His body from the Theotokos. I mean, think about it. Christ received all of His flesh, all of His DNA and genetic material from a woman, and yet He's somehow a man, because Christ is the true Human Being, He bares within Himself true human nature, the fullness of human nature and overcomes the division between male and female. He unites Paradise with the rest of the world by opening the doors of Paradise first to the thief on the cross, but then to all people.

He unites Heaven and Earth by ascending with His body, forty days after the Resurrection. He unites the visible and invisible by raising all things, including us, body and soul into Eternal Life. And of course He unites creation and Creator in Himself, by the uncreated Maker of all things taking on flesh and entering into history, receiving flesh from the Theotokos. Jesus Christ, the God-Man, the only True Human is a microcosm of the entire universe, containing all things in Himself, overcoming all divisions in Himself, bringing all creation to its ultimate destiny, in union with God in Himself.

And the struggle in our lives in Christ is participating in this saving work, working with Christ for the life of the world. We work to overcome the divisions between male and female in our own struggle for holiness, as we work to overcome the divisions of sin in our Christ-centered love for each other. Our sins, our anger and lust and jealousy and pride divide us from each other and set us against each other. Yet, as we grow closer to God, we grow closer to each other. We work to overcome the division between Paradise and the rest of the world and our care for the entire world and seeing the world as a gift and ourselves as its stewards.

We work to overcome the division between Heaven and Earth every time we bless water for Baptism and oil for Chrismation as we give even the simplest substances a Heavenly quality and a part to play in the unfolding story of salvation. We work to overcome the division between visible and invisible by breaking down the false divide between sacred and secular by realizing that God is present in all places and filling all things and that everything we do, no matter how ordinary, can be an extraordinary instrument of God's love.

We work to overcome the division between Creator and creation by reconciling ourselves to each other, by offering ourselves, each other, and our whole lives to Christ our God in the Divine Liturgy, by uniting ourselves to Christ in prayer through His Holy Spirit. And by living lives of offering and thanksgiving, true Eucharistic lives, not just on Sunday morning in the Church building, but anywhere and everywhere every moment of every day. So, as I get ready to head to the airport again, thinking about family and friends I can't be with right now, I thank God for things like cell phones and airplanes and even things like video cameras and YouTubes.

Things that allow the divisions of space and time to shrink, even if only a little. And I ask God for the strength to participate in His healing work that overcomes the really big divisions that separate us, the hard work of being a loving husband and friend, feeding the hungry, of caring for the sick, the visiting those alone, of sharing God's love with everyone.

And I ask God for the ability to help lift up all things to Him so the world may find its place as God's Kingdom, place of unity and wholeness, where no divisions separate us. So let's Be the Bee and work to unite ourselves to each other so Christ can bring unity to all. Be the Bee and Live Orthodoxy. Remember to like and subscribe and share. I'll see you all next week. Thanks to our supporters on Patreon who helped make this episode possible. To support the creation of more Orthodox Christian content, please visit Patreon.com/y2am.

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