The Mirror of the Bible
To look in the mirror spiritually is to live according to the Holy Scripture. The true essence of listening to fragments of the Holy Scripture during the holy liturgy is to carry those to others. There are two ways of doing that. The first is to tell your friends what you learned and what was taught at the Church. This is called “the liturgy after the liturgy”. The other, more powerful way of carrying to others the message is to live by it and practice what is being taught.
First, about talking to others. How do your friends plan their meeting with Christ? This is a simple yet powerful question. Indeed, how do they do that? How do they practice what was taught if they weren’t present at the liturgy? What stops them, if anything? If they choose so, how can they get consciousness of the options and benefits of meeting Christ in the Church or through their deeds, following in the footsteps that lay on their path to redemption? How many friends do you have that bring you to Christ?
I do not preach to only have Christian friends. There is something to be learned from each person. Openness can be welcomed, in my opinion, as long as it doesn’t require accepting the relativism of truth. Such relativism is the claim that all or most spiritual or religious beliefs are correct or that even more is correct. Relativism is in itself a religious frame. Keeping each person’s beliefs can be done with firmness and gentleness while sometimes exploring how they apply to a particular life situation. For example, I don’t believe the Bible teaches what our attitude should be about modifying the weather or genetically modified organisms in food. But discussing such topics while keeping the balance of discernment in mind helps us explore the roots of each idea. Therefore, talking to people with different, even opposite, beliefs shouldn’t be scary. If you believe what you believe, you think it enough that you may allow yourself to doubt it, still keeping enough arguments to return to your spiritual center.
Considering that one knows everything right, even in Orthodox Christianity, is a dangerous temptation. Therefore, one should keep an open mind, not to change the rightful faith beliefs, but to extend them in ways that make sense today, in this world, without posing a threat to the Christian tradition.
For example, you could feel ashamed if you share an idea through your behavior, an explanation, or an answer and another person rejects it. Either of what you said or that you wrongfully hoped the other person would cherish your idea. If you feel shame because of what you said, the case is that you didn’t really believe it so much (and you loved your image more), and in the latter case, it is discounting the reality that each of us is entitled to own beliefs, including rejecting other beliefs.
This is what freedom of expression means: that you allow, accept, and even fight for the right of another person to say something you disagree with. In their essence, totalitarianism (such as communism and fascism) and political correctness (cultural Marxism) admit no opposition and no middle ground. Totalitarians use propaganda and mass control, and political correctness uses public relations, lobbying, and public policies. In a true democracy, nobody should feel ashamed of saying what one thinks and believes out of fear of negative repercussions.
The Mirror of the Idols
What is the alternative to looking in the mirror by living your life according to Holy Scripture? It is looking at what you think you can become without God. You become the idols you serve.
For example, if you serve wrath, you become wrath. In its extreme, hateful wrath makes anyone so insignificant until it all becomes a dot, a target to fire at. Wrath can be alternatively directed at a behavior if emotional intelligence is used. For example, a parent may tell a child: “I love you; therefore, I am angry at your wrong ways”; by that, a negative emotion can be used so that it doesn’t become an idol.
If you serve pride, you become pride. For example, if you congratulate someone because you want to be congratulated yourself or want some attention, you have not only taken that person’s right to be redempted by rewarding that person in the now (rather than the eternity), but you have also become the exponent of pride. The idol is what gets ahead of you. On the other hand, suppose a parent emotionally supports a child to do something positive. In that case, it is not pride that is fed (unless the parent actually is proud of himself), but the child’s self-esteem and motivation for learning and repeating a useful behavior.
If you serve lust, everything you might have gathered through planning and discipline is put at the altar of whimsical desires to be sacrificed. Lust is an enemy of wisdom and the clouding of the mind – not only in the sexual form. Within lust, one may become the most urgent urge that embodies the undisciplined and uncontrolled human being.
If you serve greed, then your identity becomes attached to the things you possess and/or aspire to possess: your value becomes what you are worth in the eyes of others and what you see in the mirror when you look at what you use to cover yourself with.
If you serve gluttony, your body will likely take the shape you give it by serving this god. Both greed and gluttony may embody the desire, the aspiration to have the physical needs met, believing that if one doesn’t do that, nothing and nobody will, when only serving others through our talents can genuinely establish a balance. Of course, one must know how to choose who to help.
If you serve sloth, then abandoning responsibilities and gifts is spiritual suicide, giving up to pessimism and negativism, depression, and despair. For example, taking a calculated break after hard work can bring balance, but you cannot counteract an exaggeration, an extreme, with another extreme. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
If you serve envy, then you feel certain inferiority which tells you whatever another one has that you value must be used to bring him or her down, instead of using admiration as a force to take learnings from a model.
Which One Do You Choose?
There you have, in a nutshell, the two possible mirrors between which your life pendulates. But when you stop and look, what do you see?
Marcus Victor Grant
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