“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 of 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 rising 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.
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.