Whit’s End: Never Sleeps

Apologies for the lack of writing and posting.  I’ve been a little busy with this…

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One of my greatest reading interests is the experience and teachings of the Eastern/Greek Orthodox Church.  The Church’s history and theology is one steeped in prayer.  For the Orthodox, prayer is not the foundation or the end result of a Christian life???it IS the Christian life.  Through prayerfully drawing closer to God and experiencing him through a loving relationship, the Christian life becomes a constant experience, one that does not end with the rising or the setting of the sun; it doesn’t pick up at 11am on Sundays or end with a mission trip.  For the Orthodox, a prayer-filled Christian life is on-going, everlasting.  Since the kingdom of God has come in Jesus Christ, then the eternal has begun, here and now.

With this kind of thinking, you have an incredible self-awareness that takes place in your own life and experience.  Being aware of God and of your own life and choices is something that can lead to a much deeper understanding of yourself, but also of the physical and spiritual world around you.  I’ve always been fascinated with the closeness of the spiritual world, how we live in and around it all the time and yet never really give it much thought as it deserves (or requires).  Is that dangerous?  I think so, for Scripture reminds us constantly that not only is God’s eye on the sparrow, but that the devil prowls behind the grass of our lives…waiting.

In a book called, “Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives,” author, Ana Smiljanic writes of the life and times of Thaddeus of Vitovnica, a Russian monk who passed just a few years ago.  Thaddeus gave his life to attending to spiritual awareness and of being sure that he got the very most out of his life with Christ.  I am fond of this quote and its meaning for us today,

[Thaddeus] began to understand, based on his own experience, that being a Christian meant waging a constant and merciless battle against evil and death in one???s own heart, a battle with no front lines or cease-fires, in which the enemy neither sleeps nor tires.

It’s that last line, in which the enemy never sleeps nor tires.  If we think for a moment that we are off the hook, then we have already lost the battle.  In the movies, the bad guys ALWAYS know that the good guys are coming, right?  But the good guys always get surprised by the bad.  Why is that?  Sometimes I think it’s because we as the good guys fall into a triumphalism, a feeling of “Well, we’re going to win, because, well, we’re the good guys!”  But it’s that thinking that leads to the most disastrous outcomes, both in the movies and in real life.

We as the children of God, those given the mission to go into all the world and make disciples (Matthew 28) need to neither sleep nor tire of doing good and following after Jesus.  God gives his grace, but he’s not going to live out your Christian life for you.  Galatians 6.9???10,

9 So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up.  10 So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. 

You will reap the benefits of God, should you sow a Godly life.  But likewise you will NOT reap what you do NOT sow (you won’t have tomatoes in the garden of your life if you don’t plant tomatoes, right?).  If the enemy never sleeps nor tires, than I would say, “Keep awake!  Stay alert! and know your enemy!”  Fight the devil, evil, and sin through not growing weary of doing what is right.  Take every opportunity to do good, as Galatians says.  Pray without stopping, as 1 Thessalonians 5.17 says and our family of Orthodox Christians believe, and the devil will flee from you as you resist him (James 4.7).

Be blessed this weekend. 

Rev. Whit R. Martin
Pastor, New Liberty United Methodist Church

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