Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Violent Christian

Every once and awhile I come across the idea of violence as part of the Christian's efforts towards holiness. This is not part of our common speech as Anglicans, but it might be helpful. To do violence in Eastern Christian thought is not to externally attack anybody: rather it is to 'attack' all those desires that dwell within our own hearts that pull us away from our relationship with the One God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Jesus speaks of the 'violence' in Matthew 11.12

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force."

All acts of prayer, penitence, worship, spiritual disciplines in general are acts of violence against our sinful passions, and the Evil one who would prevent us from entering the life of the Kingdom of God. So take up your weapons ye who would be His soldiers and attack!! The victory is ours in Christ Jesus!

Those who aim at ascending with the body to Heaven, indeed need violence and constant suffering, especially in the early stages, until our pleasure-loving dispositions and unfeeling hearts attain to love of God and chastity by manifest sorrow. This is a great toil, very great indeed, with much unseen suffering, especially for those who live carelessly, until by simplicity, deep angerlessness and diligence, we make our mind, which is a greedy kitchen dog addicted to barking, a lover of chastity and watchfulness. But let us who are weak and passionate have the courage to offer our infirmity and natural weakness to Christ with unhesitating faith, and confess it to Him; and we shall be certain to obtain His help, even beyond our worth, if only we plunge to the depth of humility.

All who enter upon the good fight, which is hard and close, but also easy, must realize that they must leap into the fire, if they really expect the celestial fire to dwell in them

~ St John Climacus – The Ladder of Divine Ascent

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