Ruth Obadiah – 28/7/14
Now that I am Orthodox. One can be forgiven for thinking “that is it now, baptized – all done, just carry on with your life, you are saved! Go be happy!” Despite being an Orthodox baby, that is not my understanding of the Orthodox Faith, not at all. This is the beginning, not the end. I have just been born, not died. This is the beginning, and the Christian life is hard. The gate is narrow. I am learning that, and learning it fast. About 3 years after finding Christ and investigating the early Church, I found myself looking at Orthodoxy. However, there was still so much I needed to know.
So I concluded that I needed to speak to Orthodox people, clergy and laity alike. I needed answers desperately, but I knew no local Orthodox people. I decided to use Facebook and dialogue with Orthodox people in Orthodox Groups. Speaking to Orthodox people is a perfect way to study the Orthodox Faith, and how it is lived day by day – in an objective and honest manner. This posed a problem however, the Church that I was a member of – despite being full of people I love and who love Christ passionately – was also a Church that was, and still is – very much against the Established Church. You can’t get any more established than the Orthodox Church. So, I created for myself another Facebook account and joined many Orthodox Groups – this gave me the opportunity to study Orthodoxy without external and subjective distractions.
I started asking questions about Orthodoxy, about the theology, how it compared to modern theology. I started studying more intensively literature and writings from the early Church Fathers – and I asked questions, a lot of them. I often played a game, a simple game of ask a specific question, and address it to several Orthodox clergy from across the world. The response I received staggered me, it seemed that Orthodox teachings were uniform everywhere! How could this be? Surely some people must have their own opinion on interpretations? And that is the difference I found, Orthodoxy is not about picking up a Bible and deciding for ourselves what it means. After all, God is not a God of confusion – is He? Sadly, ignorance has played a big part in the rejection of me from my old Church since leaving to become Orthodox. Other people around me saw the journey I was on, saw the beautiful deep quotes I posted every day and read the many articles I posted about Orthodoxy – and they began asking me questions. They asked me. I have been accused of many things and people now ignore me in the street, I have lost almost every Christian friend I had, but the goal – the goal is so worth it. God sees all things, He is my witness and it is to Him alone that I am accountable. The gate is narrow, the Cross is heavy – Christ did not say that it would be easy, did He? Never look back, never ever look back. This treasure that I have found, it never ceases to take my breath away.
When I first realized that the world did not revolve around me, and I found God – I was constantly sharing this with people, this wonderful amazing God actually loved and wanted me, despite all the bad things I had done. Now that I have found this treasure, the Church that even history agrees is the one that Christ established through His Apostles – this I also want to share, this beautiful gift. So, here I am on this wonderful journey. Continually discovering new things and every day I am facing new challenges. I am studying, I am constantly being encouraged to study by my Spiritual Father, both academically and things of my own choice – i.e, the Scriptures, comparative theology and Church history. This goes against everything I was led to believe before, as I was always taught that those who educate themselves are so full of “head knowledge” that they lose the concept of the Gospel. I can’t even begin to explain how much my understanding of the Scriptures has changed, there is a depth to Orthodoxy that truly has to be experienced. You cannot argue with recorded history. For the first 1,000 years of Christianity, the world was Orthodox (the see of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Rome and Constantinople) – to argue with recorded history is as futile as denying the existence of King Henry VIII because you dislike his creation of the Church of England. Facts are facts. Then, Rome broke away from the other 4 sees, in effect becoming the first “Protestants”. Over time adding doctrine after doctrine – until the Roman Church barely resembled that of the early Church.
It is hardly surprising the Reformation occurred. Sadly, modern day evangelicals are basically doing what the Roman Church did – adding doctrine after doctrine. Sola Scriptura has a lot to answer for. The Rapture and the modern day interpretation of the state of Israel are two perfect examples of this. Both are barely 150 years old and neither have ever been taught in the Church at any time. The true irony for me, is that despite the reformers hatred of all things “Catholic”, almost all their theology is a convoluted branch from Rome. Who is curious enough to research this…? I had to ask myself “who is right?” The Apostles and their Disciples – the men who actually got their teachings from Christ Himself and faithfully recorded their teachings in the many Epistles, like Ignatius, Polycarp and also through Holy Tradition? Or various men who came nearly 2,000 years later whose theology not only disagreed with the Early Church, but also with each other? How can I be true to myself unless I am being obedient to God? Compromising is not being obedient, it is telling God that He did not quite get it right. Christ said that we are to pick up our Cross, He did not add a footnote saying “unless it becomes difficult or inconvenient, or makes you really unpopular”. Now that I am baptized, I have received the most precious Gift of the Holy Spirit, and I am Orthodox, an Orthodox Christian. The desire to share this incredible gift burns away in me like an enormous fire.
The sacraments and guidance I receive strengthen me both Spiritually and physically. Orthodoxy is not emotional, it is deeply Spiritual and every single day I am reminded of this. I am home. Yet my journey has only just begun. I am saved, I am being saved, I will be saved.