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An Optimist says the glass is half full; A Pessimist says the glass is half empty; A Realist says the glass has water in it; An Opportunist drinks the water while the other three are arguing!

Let’s face it; life is complicated and perspective makes a difference in practically all situations in our lives. But getting the proper perspective at the right time always strikes me as a real challenge. I’m so often tripped up by a poor perspective that I miss lessons I’ll just have to “relearn” later. Frustrating! But, there is hope, especially when we see the wisdom of embracing the rhythm of life of the Orthodox Way!

Look at our lesson today in Genesis 5:32-6:8:

After Noah was five hundred years old, Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth. When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose. Then the LORD said, “My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

What an intriguing story! And so many question! Who are these “Nephilim?” And why are they fathering “men of renown?” If you’re looking for answers to these questions here, get ready to be disappointed! Sorry.

No, we won’t talk about this but to say that this information Moses includes here is to get us to his main point: God appears to be very unhappy and disappointed in humanity – so much so that God is going to send a flood to hit “restart” on the human race! But, be careful here. Moses IS telling a story that has a very central purpose. It isn’t to settle all science questions. It isn’t to settle all historical questions. It isn’t to settle even all theological questions. Moses is telling a story about the creation of Humanity and Humanity’s relationship with God. And in telling this story, Moses wants you to see the wisdom in how God is going to reverse the tragedy of Humanity and turn it into salvation! That’s the point. Don’t forget it.

So, Moses uses emotions we humans usually feel to describe how and why God acts the way He does in History. It isn’t that God is actually susceptible to these changes or emotional outbursts, but from our perspective, it sure looks like God is “feeling” anger or disappointment, or hope, or, well, you get the idea.

And Moses uses these emotions in an effective way to get his point across. He has God “feeling” disappointed or “sorry” He made Humanity, even though we know that God knows the end from the beginning so Humanity’s actions didn’t catch God by surprise! Moses has God “feeling” grief, even though we know that God knows that there is no reason to grieve because He is going to send His Son to destroy sin, death, and Satan for all of Humanity. And Moses has God “feeling” hope as Noah finds “favor” in God’s sight!

All of these emotions are from our perspective. This is how we would feel if we were in God’s place.

But here’s the key! We’re not God. And that’s the perspective we have to remember if we are going to pass through this life with the right attitudes and outlook to keep from falling into the traps of despair and delusion. Moses has God “feeling” all these emotions to make sure we connect up with God’s ultimate purpose and that we are created in God’s image so that we can grow into His Likeness by grace. Our perspective has to be transformed into an eternal perspective so that we won’t fall into the trap of questioning God’s wisdom or His plan!

Today, is your perspective in life clouded by doubt, suspicion, and fear? It doesn’t have to be. You can willingly embrace the eternal perspective of the Orthodox Way of life and be transformed and renewed in your mind by God’s purpose and love. Being Orthodox on Purpose rewires your thinking and all of  your life!

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  • Cyneath Ian Christian
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 8:47 am

    So, A) God doesn’t ‘feel’; B) We are created in His image and likeness; thus, C) we don’t feel. Due to our exultation of the knowledge of good and evil we ‘think’ we feel. And suffer therefrom.

    O Lord and Master, take from me the spirit of … idle talk.

    • Post Author
      Fr. Barnabas Powell
      Posted March 10, 2017 at 9:06 am

      So, Cyneath, not sure if your comment is meant to begin a conversation or to just be “idle talk.” But I will assume the former and say, God certainly does “feel” but not in the way we “feel.” Being time bound creatures, we are in this life to “grow up” into the spiritual wisdom of “apatheia.” This spiritual discipline does not carry the negative connotations of our English “apathy” but it does speak to the sober and timeless perspective God wishes us to learn based on being created in His image.

      We humans are always tempted to create God in our image rather than learn that we are made in His image to embrace and grow into His likeness. Hope this helps.

      • Cyneath Ian Christian
        Posted March 10, 2017 at 10:23 am

        I am of the impression that we ‘suffer’ according to the value we ascribe to our feelings. Concluding that I of my own am truly ignorant of the way of Life (remember, we haven’t eaten of THAT tree for eons), regardless of how much information/experience I have garnered, my feelings are based on incomplete and often biased information. In this, are they not ‘idle talk’?

        But give rather the spirit of … humility.

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