Galatians 2:11-16 (Epistle)
11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.13And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
Do you wish to go deeper in your spiritual walk but you are concerned about what friends, family and the world (co-workers, etc.) might say? ‘Who cares’? Would be the simple answer, but we see that even Peter, on whom Christ built His church, had issues with appearances. People claim we all should be individuals and yet, when our individuality leads to an outward show of our identity in, and love for, Christ- we are labeled as weird. We who just want to go deeper in our spiritual walk can be labeled as being a religious zealot for observing fasts and feast days. Branded as old fashioned, or culturally out of sync, for wearing a head covering, or lighting a candle.
One of the things I like about the Orthodox Church is that, no one cares if you get it exactly right or if you do something that modern church goers would consider, ‘goofy’ because pretty much everything done by Orthodox church goers looks bizarre to people unaccustomed to what they see happening in an orthodox church. The first time I saw ‘DOX’ church goers get down on their knees and put their foreheads on the floor I about ran out of the building. That was definitely NOT part of my church experience growing up.
Many protestants are hearing God lead them to the Orthodox Church. My journey has been on going for about 2-3 years now. I did not start my journey looking for Orthodox Christianity. I began it studying head covering. I’ve looked into other, more traditional forms of churches and communities but none of them has stayed with me beyond the respect of an outsider looking in. I began attending services at the Orthodox temple closest to me last year. Due to certain commitments, and some things that happened, I had to stop attending for a bit. During this time, the Lord spoke to me and told me to stop going to the church I had been attending. People don’t like it when you stop attending their church and tell them it was a directive from God. If that church is good enough for them, why is it not good enough for you? It has nothing to do with that but everything to do with my desire to be obedient to God. Even though scripture tells us to be obedient… even THAT raises eyebrows because of the can of worms opened up when you claim to hear the voice of God. Everyone talks about it, but no one really expects other people to be able to hear from God especially if they themselves do not hear from Him. I never do what I do as a poke in the eye to those around me. I do it in obedience and it is interesting to see how it can open a new level of communication between the Lord and I. However, as the aforementioned scriptures speak, no Christian should feel they are able to live in sin while telling those around them that they are bad people destined for hell. Every person’s spiritual walk could be picked apart but that is not what we are here to do. While we are here, we are to love, feed, heal, repent of our own sins, walk in obedience, forgive, walk in humility, deny our flesh, and (among many other things) make sure that we are righteous; all the while making ourselves available to those around us in Christ-like brotherly love.
If God is telling you to visit people in the hospital then go. If He is telling you to stop going to this church and to go instead to this other church… GO. Your obedience and loyalty belong to God and not to any church leader, co-worker, family member, etc. God’s ways are not our own. That is something for which I am SO thankful!!! God’s rewards are also beyond our comprehension. God never has and never will lead anyone astray. Trust Him and lean not on your own understanding.
I feel as though someone young man is going to read this who has questions about whether or not to go to Orthodox seminary to become a priest. God is telling me to tell you ‘yes, do it’.
That’s all for now. Lord have mercy.