The Spirituality of the Christian East — 20170806


The teaching that man must be holy and perfect like God Himself through the accomplishment of the will of God is the central teaching of the Eastern Church. This teaching has been stated in many different ways in the Eastern Church’s spiritual tradition. St. Maximus the Confessor said it this way: “Man is called to become by divine grace all that God Himself is by nature.” This means very simply that God wills and helps His creatures to be like He is, and that is the purpose of life. As God is holy, perfect, pure, merciful, patient, kind, free, self-determining, ever-existing, and always, for eternity, the absolute superabundant realization of everything good in inexhaustible fullness and richness… so man must be this way as well, ever growing and developing in divine perfection and virtue for all eternity by the will and power of God Himself. The perfection of man is his growth in the unending perfection of God.

If you read Maximus’ words closely, you realize that God does not expect us to become like Him in just this life-time. Rather, humans will be engaged in the process of becoming like God for all eternity. God has granted us eternal life so that we might continuously have the opportunities needed to grow in His likeness, something needed since we have been created in His image.

Christian spirituality is centered in Christ. Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God who was born as a man of the Virgin Mary in order to give man eternal like in communion with God, His Father.

In Jesus Christ “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” In Him is the “fullness:” of “grace and truth” and “all the fullness of God.” When one sees and knows Jesus, one sees and knows God the Father. When one is in communion with Jesus, one is in abiding union with God.

These various ideas are found in St. Paul’s Letters to the Colossians, Romans and Ephesians and in St. John’s Gospel. The goal of human life is to be continually “in Christ.”

Comments are closed.