I have heard it said by Orthodox Christian teachers that the only thing a person can do on his own is go to Hell. In order to be saved, we need others. We need others for a couple of reasons. We are all connected in an ontological way, we are all in this together. We need to serve others in order to love, and love is transformative. Christianity requires loving others more and showing self love less. We love ourselves by loving God and others. Self-love is counter to the message, to our spiritual well being. We love ourselves by finding our full joy in God, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit. The best way to love our neighbor is by helping them to do the same.
It is an interesting discussion to think about how we can help others spiritually, or how others can help us.
In America it is common to hear people say that they are not going to baptize their kids or take them to church, because they might be ‘influencing’ the child/person unfairly. Their position is that they will teach them how to be a ‘good person’ and then let them make their own decision.
We Orthodox baptize our babies. Roman Catholics baptize, but don’t Chrismate them until they are older. They can’t commune until after they’re ‘confirmed’. Most Evangelicals and baptists don’t baptize infants until they reach the age of ‘accountability’.
The question that we are asking is, don’t we parents, friends, and loved ones have any affect on youth, friends, or family?
Orthodox have a great deal of theology for our positions, but I heard a podcast today that made me want to share a few of the highlights on this blog.
The podcast was given by Fr. Thomas Hopko about the Healing of the Paralytic.
Jesus was preaching in Capernaum. He was surrounded by so many people that it was not possible for the paralytic to be brought to him. The persons who brought him had to come in through the roof. These men who brought the paralytic must have gone through quite an effort to remove tile from a roof, fashion an opening, and then lower their friend to Jesus.
The text as written by St. Mark tells us that the man was brought by four men. “And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.” (Mk 2:3). Jesus was so impressed with their faith–note the use of the plural pronoun–that he forgave the sins of the paralytic.” And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mk 2:5) The text doesn’t tell us whether the paralytic asked these men to take him to Jesus. We just know that the text says that he was impressed with their faith, so he healed the paralytic. The text does not tell us about a single word uttered by the paralytic. We don’t know that he accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. We are told of nothing other than the faith of four men who brought a paralytic to Jesus.
If we were baptized as infants, than some man or woman brought us to where Jesus is. If we came to church later in life, it is likely that some man or woman brought us to where Jesus is. Other people were instrumental in our salvation. The prayers of a good man availeth much.
Should we not–following the command to love our neighbor– bring someone in need to where Jesus is?