"Work Out Your Salvation"
We have talked about salvation, both the problem from which we are saved—separation from God and death—as well as the solution to this problem—Christ’s re-uniting of humanity and Divinity in Himself, and His victory over death in His Resurrection. It remains for us to explore what this salvation looks like in the life of each Christian. Because our understanding that the goal of salvation is to unite the human person eternally with God, this process of union is dynamic—ever growing and developing.
Jesus Christ gave to His Church the sacred Mysteries (or ‘Sacraments’) which enliven the faithful with the Holy Spirit. We shall discuss the Mysteries in greater depth in a later section; suffice it to say that they are the foundation of the ongoing work of salvation in a Christian’s life.
We are also given the example, and the command, by Jesus Christ to pray—in fact, St. Paul wrote in his first letter to the Church in Thessaloniki that we are to pray ‘without ceasing.’ Understanding that prayer is consciously standing before God—God, who is everywhere present and filling all things—this command from Paul is not hyperbole, but is achievable with effort and the help of God. Prayer, whether with or without words, is a beginning of that life of salvation because in it we consciously unite our life with God’s.
Together with prayer, Christians practice the disciplines both of fasting and of giving alms—that is material aid to those who are in need. In the case of fasting, Christians are reminded that our life is dependent on God, that we are not made to live for the pleasures of this life, but to focus on our life with Him. In the case of almsgiving, we recognize that all we have is already alms given to us by God, and we are called to be caretakers of what we have been entrusted, giving a portion to those who do not have what they need. In this way we become more and more like God who, seeing that all humanity was impoverished and in need because of sin and death, gave us His very self so that He could raise us up.
Christians also conform their minds to God’s will and teaching by studying the sacred Scriptures, the writings of the Church fathers, and listening attentively to the hymns of the Church. By being so formed, we begin naturally to act in ways that are life-giving and lead us to a more perfect union with God.
The path to salvation is holistic and organic—it involves a radical transformation of the whole human person: body, mind, and soul. This transformation has Jesus Christ as its focus and goal, no practice is undertaken as an end in itself, but as a means to drawing closer to—and becoming more like—Jesus Christ. So, as Christians enter more fully into this communion with Jesus Christ, they receive even in this life, the foretaste of salvation in God; even though their earthly life comes to an end, they continue even more fully to be with Christ, and wait with Him until He comes again to raise all the dead.
Continue to What is “The Church”?
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