Christ is Risen!
We are currently in the midst of rearranging our living quarters in our house, and I am taking this opportunity to go through our belongings and get rid of things we don’t really need or want or use. Although I am very sentimental sometimes, I have thrown away numerous “special things” (or as my mom puts it, “Things that used to be important that just aren’t anymore.” She is so wise.) in the past few days because nesting is stronger than old sentiments at the moment. Three cheers for NESTING!
I have also gone through my books and pulled out ones that I no longer want or don’t think I will ever read. I have discovered that I have a decently-sized collection of Bible study books of various types and kinds. I was torn when I came to these because they truly have been useful to me along my spiritual journey, and some of them are really great. However, I have no desire to read them. I’ve been pondering what it is about them that makes me feel so strongly against reading them.
Is it that Orthodox don’t read the Bible or do studies of the Bible?
No. We do and should.
Is it that I don’t want to get the Protestant perspective anymore, since I am already so steeped in it and want to fill my mind with Orthodox perspectives instead?
Eh, maybe. But I can certainly still read a Protestant book and begin to filter out what I no longer agree with or what is being said without any basis. So that can’t be the big reason.
I’ve been thinking about this for a few days now and my wonderful husband sent me a link to a blog this morning where I think I stumbled upon the true reason why I have no desire to read Bible study books. The thing is, I know a LOT about the Bible (of course, the Orthodox Bible is in a different order and includes books I wasn’t familiar with before, but overall, my statement still stands). I’ve been winning Bible trivia in church since I was like 7 years old and if you want Bible facts, explanations, or reasoning, I can give it to you. I was taught to know the Bible from a young age and I am so thankful to my parents for ingraining that into me from infancy. I would never claim to know everything but hey, I do have a PhD in Theology so I know more than the average bear, I would suspect. I say all of that to say that I know the Bible but I am so very far away from living an Orthodox life. If my Christianity was based on my knowledge of the Bible, I’d have to give myself an “A” but the fact it, it isn’t, so I would give myself a “D+” on my best days!
I felt this in my heart as I was looking at my Bible study books and something in me told me that I was not going to learn how to be Orthodox by reading those books. They will give me more of what I already have, knowledge, facts, and information. But they will not give me spirituality. That was the thing that drew me to Orthodoxy in the first place. It isn’t about the facts and knowledge – which is funny to say because the Orthodox are ORTHODOX in their theology, meaning that having the right facts and Orthodoxy (meaning “right belief”) is the bedrock for being an Orthodox Christian. But Orthodoxy isn’t something I need to figure out on my own – the theology of the Church was hammered out 1500-2000 years ago so if I don’t know something, I look it up. Orthopraxy (“right practice”) on the other hand IS what I need to concern myself with. As Fr Dn Charles Joiner says in the blog that expressed what my heart was saying but didn’t know the words:
The path of the Orthodox Life is one that is focused not on words or doctrines, surly it is grounded by sound doctrine, but is focused on a life of repentance. Beginning with faith in the Good News of the Gospel, coupled with a recognition of our sinful state, our condition that is less than what God has intended for us, we must focus on our perfection with the help of God’s saving grace.
How? Do we need to have exalted words? No. We need to be joined with Christ in His Church, to give our best effort to follow His commandments, and to participate in His sacraments for our healing. We need to pray daily, participate in the prescribed fasts, and follow the guidance of a spiritual father who knows the path to unity with God.
Let’s not get too engaged in the meaning of words, or even in the analysis of Scripture. With faith, let’s seek to heal our souls through the healing sacraments, prayer and fasting. Our souls are crying for healing and liberation from our passions and our dedication to the things of this world. Let’s allow ourselves to be lifted above all words and receive what cannot be put into words. This is the path to unity with God and our salvation.
I need to spend my time actually being Orthodox, not reading about it. So I don’t want the books I used to read, because I don’t want to spend the time learning what I already know. And now that I’ve had it so beautifully put into words for me, I no longer feel guilty for it. Give the books to someone who may not know what they say yet rather than having them take up space on my shelf for no reason. Ah… doesn’t that feel better?!
Truly Christ is Risen!