Living as the image of God is what it means to be truly human. We were created in the image of God and it has always been God’s intention that humanity would mature into the fullness of this image, which is fully embodied and demonstrated by Christ.
While this intention might seem impossible, we are never called to live like anything else. Our attempts to live as something else is the core of our corruption and distortion. Therefore, our healing and renewal, along with the entirety of creation, occurs as we relearn how to live as God’s image during the course of our normal daily lives.
The question that looms before us is “How do we do this?” After almost 25 years as a Christian, I am convinced that the Orthodox Church possesses both the fullest theological paradigm and practical process for learning how to incarnate Christ’s life and presence on earth.
This is why I resonate so much with a quote from Met Jonah that I recently posted. The primary reason for my joining the Orthodox Church is because I believe it is the Way to Christ’s likeness. And while I believe the Orthodox Church is the historical and apostolic church, for me that matters only in that it has helped the Orthodox Church to preserve the Way through the centuries.
A recent post by Fr Gregory Jensen has further stimulated my personal reflections. He succinctly summarizes his reflections about the future of Orthodoxy in America:
“Objective teaching about the Gospel, the Church’s worship (especially the Eucharist), and the human heart, all converge in Jesus Christ and the fruit of that encounter is the desire to evangelize, to bear witness to what we know personally. All four of these elements must be present. Where I suspect we have gone wrong is to neglect the formation of the human heart.”
I love Orthodoxy and all of its beauty. I love its history, its theology, its liturgy and its sacraments. Sure there are still points of contention that arise when my past Evangelical Protestant theology, practices and values are confronted with those of Orthodoxy’s. But I’m at home in Orthodoxy, even if my new home still stirs feelings of culture shock and homesickness now and then.
This is why I was thrilled to come across an essay by Met Jonah through Fr Stephen’s blog. The essay is entitled, “Do Not Resent, Do Not React, Keep Inner Stillness.” For me, this essay was a reminder and a refocus. It encapsulates the trajectory of my Christian life just prior to leaving professional ministry and my journey ever since. I still believe that as human beings created in God’s image, we are to join God in his mission to nurture and renew humanity and creation toward the fulfillment of his intentions. For me, this is what the last line of the Creed conveys, “I look for the resurrection of the dead and the Life of the world to come.” This line is not conveying a passive waiting, but an active anticipation as we lean into and live toward that future based on everything the Creed has previously affirmed.
So we live into God’s future, actively participating in God’s mission toward that future primarily by learning to be and live as God’s image. In so doing, we experience the healing and restoration of our human nature from which true embodied and everlasting love and goodness flow.
If you’re interested, you can also hear an hour-long lecture of the same material by Met Jonah on Ancient Faith Radio, entitled “The Spiritual Process.”
And if you’re interested in going a even further, there is also a five-part lecture series on the Met Jonah’s material at Icon New Media Network: