My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True Lord, God, and Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD [Part II)
Saint Theophylact comments on the above biblical passage and says, “The Lord ‘s response, “My kingdom is not of this world,” corrects Pilate of two misconceptions: Christ is not a mere man, like all others on earth–He is the Son of God, and God Himself; and, He is not fomenting revolt. “Because My kingdom is not of this world” have no fear. I am not some new, upstart insurgent. “If it were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be handed over.” But He did not deny that His kingdom is IN this world, and HERE. He is the king in this world: He governs it; He takes care of it; He traverses it as He wills. But His Sovereignty is not FROM this world: IT IS FROM HEAVEN AND FROM BEFORE THE AGES. Nor was it established FROM HENCE, that is, from here below on earth. He rules here; yet His DOMINION, BEING IMPERISHABLE, NEITHER DERIVES ITS EXISTENCE, NOR IS SUSTAINED, FROM HERE BELOW.”
“For, behold, the Kingdom of God IS WITHIN YOU” Luke 17:21]. Saint Theophylact explains, “This Kingdom is not worldly, but an other-worldly Kingdom… It has no no fixed date: instead, the Kingdom ofGod IS ALWAYS PRESENT FOR HIM WHO DESIRES AND WILLS IT. When a man’s disposition and way of life are like that of an Angel, most assuredly THIS IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD. For God indeed is said to rule as King when nothing worldly meddles in the governing of our souls and when in every respect WE LIVE NOT OF THIS WORLD. This manner of life WE HAVE WITHIN US, that is to say, WE HAVE IT WITHIN US WHEN WE DESIRE AND WILL IT. We do not need to wait a long time, or until our departure from this life: INSTEAD, FAITH AND A GOD PLEASING LIFE WHICH ACCOMPANIES FAITH ARE VERY NEAR US. “The world is near you, i your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach). Faith is NOT a distant accomplishment but “is near,” having a vision of Christ as present and easily accessible. Faith TRANSFORMS THE WHOLE PERSON; THE SOUL (HEART) WORKING WIT THE BODY (MOUTH) MAKES IT REAL. TRUE FAITH IS ACCESSIBLE TO ALL EQUALLY; AS EVEN THE Old Testament Prophets teach. Saint Theophylact says, “To have faith, and, together with faith, to walk in a manner WORTHY OF OUR CALLING, IS INDEED SOMETHING WITHIN US.
The Pharisees, then, mocking the Lord for preaching about the Kingdom, which NO ONE HAD PREACHED BEFORE. But the Lord shows that they are ignorant of that which is WITHIN THEM, although those who so desire may easily understand it. “Now, while I am among you, it is entirely within your ability to have the Kingdom of God, BY BELIEVING IN ME AND BY CHOOSING TO LIVE ACCORDING TO MY COMMANDMENTS,” He tells His disciples. “For you (the disciples) also the Kingdom of God IS PRESENT, WHILE I AM WITH YOU. It is present with you not only in that you have believed in Me and followed Me, but also in that you now live free of any cares while I am here to watch over you and to provide for you.”
As Orthodox Christians we should know that the chief thing is that those who attain the future blessed life and become “partakers of the Divine Nature” (2 Peter 1:4) will be participants in that most PERFECT LIFE, WHOSE SOURCE IS IN GOD ALONE. In particular, the future members of the Kingdom of God will be vouchsafed, LIKE THE ANGELS, TO “SEE GOD” (Matthew 5:8), TO BEHOLD HIS GLORY NOT AS THROUGH A DARK GLASS, NOT BY MEANS OF CONJECTURES, BUT FACE TO FACE. And not only will they behold this glory, but THEY THEMSELVES WILL BE “PARTAKERS” OF IT. SHINING LIKE “THE SUN IN THE kINGDOM OF THEIR FATHER” [Matthew 13:43], being “fellow heirs” with Christ, sitting with Christ on a Throne and sharing with Him the Royal Grandeur [Revelation 3:21], Romans 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:11-12].
The ultimate state of man’s deification (theosis): A STATE, HOWEVER, WHICH IS NOT STATIC BUT WHICH IS CHARACTERIZED BY A NEVER-ENDING PROGRESS TOWARD GOD. By the words “partakers of the Divine Nature,” we are NOT of course to understand that we can become God by nature, BUT RATHER THAT WE CAN PARTAKE OF GOD’S NATURE THROUGH PARTICIPATION IN His grace [Energies]. Having said this, our attention and recollection turns to the hymn which we chant following the Mystery of Baptism: “AS MANY OF YOU HAVE BEEN BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST, HAVE PUT ON CHRIST. ALLELUIA.” This divine hymn reveals our true relationship to Christ God. No Orthodox Christian should ever deviate from this Christian teaching. Indeed, we “have put on Christ,” and not for a day but for always. Especially if we desire to attain the Kingdom of Glory, His Eternal Kingdom. We also remember the most meaningful Communion Prayers offered at the Divine Liturgy just before we are to receive the Holy Body and Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ such as:
You have enticed me with yearning, O Christ, and have changed me by Your
Divine Love; consume my sins, with immaterial fire, and deem me worthy to
be filled with delight in You, that leaping for joy, O Good One, I may magnify
Your two Comings.
Into the splendor of Your saints, how shall I the unworthy enter? For I dare
to enter into the Bridal Chamber, my garment will convict me, for it is not a
wedding garment; and being bound up I shall be cast out by the Angels.
Cleanse the filth of my soul and save me O Lord Who loves mankind.
O Master, Who loves mankind, Lord Jesus Christ my God, let not these holy
Gifts be to my judgment because of my unworthiness, but for the cleansing
and sanctification of both soul and body, and for a pledge of the life and
Kingdom to come. It is good for me to cling to God, and to place in the Lord
the hope of my salvation.
[Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology]
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Divine and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God