Category Archives: Anthony of the Desert

Living in the Kingdom

“Now therefore, my beloved, I beseech you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, not to neglect your salvation, that this transitory life may not deprive you of eternal life, nor the skin of this corruptible body deprive you of the kingdom of light ineffable, nor a guilty seat lose you the angelic thrones of judgment. Truly my children, my heart is in wonder and my spirit in terror, that even when we were given the full freedom to become saints, we all take our pleasure like drunkards on new wine.”

—– Anthony of Egypt

Articles are written, sermons are preached on this elusive topic of salvation. Churches have formulas that are touted as the only way to God. In times past, and today, people are killed because they see the pathway to God differently. There are those who proclaim that we live in a time of “Christian Genocide.” I am not sure how far I am willing to go on that subject but I do think we are living in a time of tremendous exclusivism in religion that leads to horrible atrocities. The desert monk gives us some instruction that make the path to God very personal.

He urges us not to neglect our salvation. Religious fanatics who are engaged in eliminating others are forgetting that the main thing is how we personally relate to the kingdom of God. Does that kingdom live in our hearts.and minds? Is it real to you and what are you doing as a part Article-10.17.18--1of that kingdom? I would hardly think that God wants us to kill people who disagree with us.

Anthony asserts that our lives are transitory. He points to the tragic decision that so many make to neglect the eternal nature we all share.  We are part of the Kingdom of God, not just in the future, but right now. We are in the corruptible body that drags us down. This corruption causes us to believe that we hold ultimate right answer and all who see it differently are heretics.

We are given the freedom to become saints. The word saint comes with some baggage. By definition, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness or likeness or closeness to God. That closeness is developed by Article-10.17.18rising above the corruption of this world. We cannot rise above this corruption and be obsessed with it at the same time. It is my firm belief that those who spend their lives condemning others simply condemn themselves. This condemnation is a result of our desire to be God.  They make the judgment, and thus, hand out the punishment.

We must not take pleasure in our own holiness but be constantly aware of our own corruption. The goal of the believer is to live in the Kingdom here and now. In order to live in the Kingdom, we must  have the heart of the King.  “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17) Let us have the same attitude as the King. Our calling is to be  the light of the world and the one who offers hope to those who are hopeless. That’s what  “Living the Kingdom” means.


Prayer

Lord, give me the wisdom and knowledge to live in the Kingdom today. So often my own corruptions cause me to stray. The source of such corruption is sometimes a lack of self-esteem and other times just pure arrogance. Lead me away from both so I may be as you.

Amen

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God the Craftsman

Whoever hammers a lump of iron, first decides what he is going to make of it, a scythe, a sword, or an axe. Even so, we ought to make up our minds what kind of virtue we want to forge, or we labor in vain.

—– Anthony of the Desert

Blacksmith

In her play, “The Zeal of Thy House,” Dorothy Sayers imagines a stonemason working on an intricate carving for the chancel of Canterbury Cathedral. He then drops his carving tool and ruins the stone. This devastates him because the valuable and custom-cut stone is ruined. The designer, however, takes the toolStone mason church out of the stonemason’s hand and begins restoration. He brings forth out of the spoiled stone a new and different figure which has its own part to play in the Cathedral and then permits the blundering mason to complete it in all its glory. “So works with us,” concludes Dorothy Sayers, “the cunning craftsman, God.”

As I tell this story, I cannot shake the phrase from my mind: “The cunning craftsman, God.” In this situation, the word cunning does not mean some kind of craftiness or deceit. The word is taken in its purer sense indicating skill, wisdom, and ability. The phrase then really means that the Master artist God can take our awkward efforts and make something useful out of them. He takes our mismanaged lives, our failed efforts, our missed marks, our shameful deeds, our alien attitudes, our sinful lives and with His divine resourcefulness, He saves the day. He creates something new, worthy and wonderful that still has usefulness and beauty in the divine plan of things. We desperately need this type of assurance.

I joy in the fact that I can dwell in that state of assurance. God has promised to be with us always even in the lowest valley of our lives. he is always eager and ready to reshape and rebuild us.


Prayer

Lord, I open myself to you and ask you to reshape and restore me in the way that you intended when you created me. May my life be shaped, with fire if necessary, to resemble your beauty and majesty. This is my prayer.

Amen

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