An Everlasting Salvation
If you’ve spent any time with me at all, you know I’m a big fan of asking the “WHY” question when it comes to our motivations for living. In fact, I’m convinced that no one sticks with a pattern of life that is effective without really understanding WHY it is effective. And that’s because the spiritual life is a marathon, not a sprint! And you can only endure a marathon if you understand WHY you are doing it!
Getting to your “WHY” is at the heart of being able to be motivated enough, consistent enough, and faithful enough to see your foundational beliefs actually change your living. Too many times we say we believe something without much depth of understanding and it shows up in how quickly what we say we believe has so little connection with how we choose to live. And that, my dearest, is why we lack credibility with our kids when we tell them how they should live. They don’t see it in our lives, so why should they do the hard work to have it in their lives? That’s a fair question, don’t you think? Why do you think we have all this chaos in our society today? It’s because we have not held onto the WHY behind our moral teachings. We’ve nuanced and “gray area” justifications for immoral behavior so much that we’ve forgotten why we were warned away from these behaviors by the God Who loves us and doesn’t want us to destroy ourselves.
Look at our lesson today in Isaiah 45:11-17:
Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: “Will you question me about my children, or command me concerning the work of my hands? I made the earth, and created man upon it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host. I have aroused him in righteousness, and I will make straight all his ways; he shall build my city and set my exiles free, not for price or reward,” says the LORD of hosts.
Thus says the LORD: “The wealth of Egypt and the merchandise of Ethiopia, and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you and be yours, they shall follow you; they shall come over in chains and bow down to you. They will make supplication to you, saying: ‘God is with you only, and there is no other, no god besides him.'” Truly, thou art a God who hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Savior. All of them are put to shame and confounded, the makers of idols go in confusion together. But Israel is saved by the LORD with everlasting salvation; you shall not be put to shame or confounded to all eternity.
All this week we’ve joined our dear St. Isaiah as he’s served the People of God in teaching them the fundamental WHY behind his consistent call to the People to BE faithful to God and to God’s call on their lives.
And today is no different.
Isaiah wants God’s people to realize just what is at stake if they are faithful to God and His purpose, His WHY, for His people. Nothing less than the vindication of God’s wisdom for us. But none of this is for God’s benefit. God doesn’t “gain” from our obedience or love, and He isn’t diminished by our rejection of Him. No, God is complete within Himself and needs nothing. All of the WHY behind the wisdom in doing the hard work to know God and to serve God is ALWAYS for my benefit. Always.
And God’s WHY for His people always starts with Himself. He is the Creator. This is His world. We are His people, the creation of His Hands. Of course, this means that His ways are the ways of wisdom. His creation always experiences the best of existence when we embrace His way of living rather than demand, pridefully, our own way. God also reveals His WHY for His creation in the reality that He chooses to use people to accomplish His will. We aren’t left out by God. God uses you and me to communicate His love, His wisdom, and His message. And He does this precisely because He wants you to embrace your true value and worth! He made you for Himself, dearest. Your WHY is ALWAYS tied to His view of WHO you are! And when you are blind to that reality, when you are blind to your place in His kingdom, in His Church, you naturally stumble with your motivations, strength, and priorities.
God tells His People that the whole world will come to them to seek the ultimate reason for living BECAUSE God’s People know God’s WHY! Conversely, when we forget our WHY and fail to live up to the high calling of being an example to the world, then the influence or lack of influence of the Church is seen as we are rejected by society for failing to be good examples of godly living!
St. Hypatios was truly an example of a godly bishop and the whole world around him recognized this in him, even those who hated him, and he did have folks who hated him because of his example! He was the bishop of Gangra in Asia Minor and actually attended the First Ecumenical Council in 325 AD. He was killed for his refusal to abandon the Orthodox Faith. A group called the Novatians, a heretical group that taught that sin could not be forgiven after baptism, hated the teachings of this godly and merciful bishop, so they killed him. But notice, we remember him while the names of these heretics passed into history forgotten.
Today, how is your ability to be faithful? Is your strength holding up to the challenges of everyday life? If you will start investing your best strength in getting to know your faith and practicing your faith daily, you’ll be energized by God’s WHY for your life, and you’ll live a Normal Orthodox life and be an example to generations to come!
P.S. You did prove to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonderworker, O Hypatios, our God-bearing Father. By fasting, vigil, and prayer you did obtain heavenly gifts, and you heal the sick and the souls of them that have recourse to you with faith. Glory to Him that has given you strength. Glory to Him that has crowned you. Glory to Him that works healings for all through you.
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