Monday, May 29, 2006

Orthodoxy 101: Spiritual Starvation

NOTE: Newsletter has not updated later due to technical difficulties

SPIRITUAL STARVATION

Every one of us has watched television and been moved by the images of starving people in other countries. Their starvation is highly visible and our hearts are pricked with concern for these unfortunate people. Any God loving heart will be moved to sorrow at such a horrible sight.
What if I were to tell you that an extremely large percentage of world is starving to death right before our very eyes, and it is virtually invisible! Sure, most of the world's population looks as if they are fed all too well, then how can they be starving to death?

They are spiritually starving to death! This starvation cannot always be detected with our physical eyes. This type of starvation is only clearly visible when we look at the situation with the spiritual eyes of understanding.

Constantly on the news we hear of road rage, unchecked anger, acts of terrorism, depression, murders, and every type of crime you can possibly imagine! Society today appears to be unraveling at the edges. Never has the world been more affluent, and never has the world suffered such spiritual starvation!

A common symptom of spiritual starvation is someone who cannot deal with the daily upsets and worries that come their way. They are devastated by anything negative that they encounter, and as a result their spirit dives into a depressed state. This state of mind is like falling into a well, it's almost as difficult to get out of a well as it is for a person in this frame of mind to overcome their depression and anger.

All you need to do is talk with someone about their religious beliefs to realize that the problem is far worse than we can ever imagine. People will tell you, "Oh, I don't need to go to church in order worship God, I can do that anywhere I am." Truly, you can worship God anywhere you are; however, God did not intend for us to worship alone.

"Whenever two or more are gathered in My Name, I will be in their midst!" Jesus Christ gave this wonderful promise to us! What a great reason to gather together in His Name to worship Him. The best place to gather in His Name is Church. Not just any church, but a church where the truth is taught.

You might say, well if you drive through virtually any city, you'll find churches everywhere. If churches are everywhere, then why are so many people suffering from spiritual starvation?
In order for our spirit to be properly nourished, it must be exposed to and believe the truth. We must worship God in Spirit and in Truth. Someone might ask, "What is the truth?" "We hear virtually every church proclaiming that they are teaching the truth!" Simply put, the truth can be summed up in the Nicene Creed of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church. This basic statement of belief evolved over the centuries during the Seven Ecumenical Councils. This statement of our Christian Faith spells out the truth pertaining to our salvation through Jesus Christ our God and Savior.

The Nicene Creed has been virtually abandoned in most all of the major non-Orthodox Christian religions throughout the world. Some religions proudly exclaim, "No Creed, but Christ!" They reject the Holy Spirit inspired Nicene Creed, then in the same breath claim to be teaching the truth! Many members of non-Orthodox Christian religions are offended when we refer to the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God, yet claim to worship Jesus Christ as God. How can the Virgin Mary not be the Mother of God, since Jesus Christ is God?

Many churches today teach that Holy Communion is only symbolic, and that it has no real power. This is a total departure from the truth. "I am the living bread which came down from Heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever, and the bread that I give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us His flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say to you, except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whosoever eats My flesh and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him on the last day." John Chapter 6, verses 51 through 54.

Further proof that Holy Communion has power is found in St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians Chapter 11, verses 27 through 29, "Wherefore whosoever shall eat of the Bread, and drink of the Cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the Bread and drink of the Cup. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's Body." How can something that is symbolic bring damnation if taken unworthily?

When you hear and believe the truth the Holy Spirit, bears witness to the truth and takes up His abode in your heart, He will always confirm the truth when you hear it. When the Holy Spirit dwells within you, your spirit is bathed in the uncreated light of truth, and as a result, you are given the strength to help others find their way to salvation. In other words, spiritual nourishment!

One of St. Seraphim of Sarov's famous sayings was: "Acquire the Spirit of peace, and a thousand souls around you will be saved!" Of a truth, if the Holy Spirit dwells in you, the peace you enjoy strengthens others! In order for this peace to strengthen others, you must gather with them in the common purpose of worshiping God. Draw strength from one another by confirming your faith with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

If you constantly eat foods that are not healthy, or refuse to eat at all, your body suffers physical starvation. You also will not have the strength to work at your daily labors. If you refuse to nourish your spirit through prayer and worship and the truth then your spirit will starve, and the result will be chaos in your mind, agitation of your spirit, and inability to cope with the slightest hardships of life gracefully.

A person with a well nourished spirit will be strong enough to realize that the evils that happen to us in our daily lives will cause us no real spiritual harm. By knowing this our spirits will remain in the light of Christ and not darkened by the evils of the world. A spirit centered in God, worshiping Him in Spirit and Truth is a balanced and peaceful spirit.

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