In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

What is Christianity, brothers and sisters? It can be defined many ways.
The Gospel speaks over and over again about what it is. Today we have
another way in which it is defined, for those who read carefully.  

The Apostle tells us that "the God who commanded the light to shine out
of the darkness has shined in our hearts, to give the light of knowledge
of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 

That's a pretty good summary of the Gospel right there. The Lord Jesus
Christ makes it possible for us to see the glory of God. He lived as a
man, making it possible for our flesh to obtain the knowledge of God. He
who shined before all things hath now brought the light into our hearts.
But in order to truly have this light be illuminating all of our hearts,
we must understand how to live, because the Lord's mission on the earth
was not only to make us capable, but also to teach us how. In order to
accomplish a task, you must know something about it, but you must also
have the ability to do it. Without the ability and the knowledge, you
cannot be successful. The Lord gave us both of these things. 

Now, the Apostle goes on to say, ?we have this treasure in earthen
vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.
Hasn-t this always been sort of a riddle to you v your life, how the
Church is perfect, spotless, the spotless bride of Christ, and yet
somehow you, a sinner, are within this spotless bride? How the Lord
performs a miracle for you all the time, but certainly on Sunday when
you take the Holy Mysteries v and yet you don-t feel completely changed,
you don-t feel completely warm from the fire that is within you? 

Isn-t this a bit of a riddle? It should be for a Christian, but we
should understand part of the answer :we are earthen vessels. If we had
no struggle to become righteous, then we would become proud, we would
not appreciate. The greatest and most gifted creature there ever was or
will be became the greatest devil. The Lord wants to keep us from this
terrible condition, so we are earthen vessels. We make many mistakes. We
forget a lot. We sin a lot. We have many weaknesses. There is much that
we want to do that we can-t. Slowly, we get stronger and are able to do
more v but in the Lord-s time, so that we don-t give any credit
whatsoever to ourselves. 

We have the light of God within us. This light is not from us; it didn-t
come from us! It always was; It was before all things were created, and
now the Lord abides in us! What a wonderful privilege it is to be a
Christian! But a Christian who feels this privilege should at every
moment realize that none of it is of himself. So when you sin, let it
humble you, let it make you remember that you are still weak, and
without God are naked.

?We are troubled from every side, the Apostle says, ?yet not
distressed. We are perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not
forsaken, cast down but not destroyed, always bearing about in the body
the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be
manifest in our body. I dare say these words have frightened many
people away from being true Christians. The Apostle is not just talking
about his office as an Apostle; it-s also our office. It-s our office to
live as Jesus Christ lived, to feel as He felt, to react to things as He
reacted to them. Now, He was constantly dying; His whole purpose to live
was in order to die! The whole reason He came into the world, from the
moment He was born, His purpose was Jerusalem, and to be crucified.

Now, we are to die as well, but let us not be morbid about it. This is
not a dying that should give us anything but joy! This is a dying of
things that are useless anyway, a dying off of our selfishness, a dying
off of our sinfulness, of our passions, of things which obscure the
light. A Christian should gladly die. At no time does a person feel more
free than when he is giving of himself, dying as it were, denying his
own needs for the needs of others. We see examples of this in every
culture, in every society, Christian or not Christian, where this kind
of altruism, giving ourselves to others, is magnified and is considered
to be the highest pinnacle of human endeavor. The Lord is the highest
pinnacle of this human endeavor, as well; the highest of all the
highest, because He showed us how to die daily, how to die minute by
minute. 

He had no sins to die from and no passions to die from. His dying was
accomplished for us, to make us able to die. In the same way, He had no
need to be baptized, but He was baptized in order to make us desire and
need to be baptized. 

We are to live as Christians. To live as Christians means to be like
Christ, which means to enter into His mind, which means, to die, which
means to react as He reacts. When you read these words, do you feel that
you fulfill them? Are you troubled, but not in despair? Are you always
bearing about in your body the dying of the Lord Jesus? Are you giving
up of yourself, and giving to others? Are you trying to put away
selfishness, greed, thinking for yourself? Are you thinking of others
first? If you are doing these things, then you are not far from the
kingdom of heaven. Or even if you are trying to do these things (and not
doing very well) , but you acknowledge that these things are a
necessity, as much as eating, or breathing, is a necessity, then you are
also not far from the Kingdom of Heaven. Dying to our own will is a
necessity. Our Lord-s will is perfect. We can-t see that will, we can-t
realize or understand it, without killing off some of our will. 

So we must die, in order to be true Christians. That-s the only place
where happiness can occur. The only true happiness is when we are
feeling, seeing, experiencing the uncreated Light within us. What a
marvelous thing it is! We, who are earthen vessels, hold something that
is so precious! We must live like this. We must live like we believe
this. We must protect this precious cargo that the Lord has put within
our hearts, by everything we say and do. Christianity is beautiful. We
must feel this beauty, we must guard this beauty. He Who created the
heavens ? He Who was before the heavens ? lives within us, earthen
vessels that we are, sinners that we are, and yet He helps us to get
better. I can-t think of any better news. 

I certainly don-t want to live forever, not on this earth, because this
earth is passing away, and this earth has too much that is wrong with
it. The Lord gives us the opportunity to have Him forever, if only we
live as He showed us how to live. 

I-ve told you this before. I believe that the reason why our Church
loves the saints so much, and why we pray to them, and why we put their
icons on the walls, and why they-re a part of our daily life, is because
they reflect Christ. And anything which reflects Christ should fascinate
us. We should never grow tired of seeing such a thing. And their
reflection of Christ shows us that indeed it is possible to be what He
has told us to be. 

It-s one thing to say, and to believe in our minds, O yes, the Lord has
come, and He has become man for our sake, and made us capable of eternal
life, made us capable of becoming holy. It-s one thing to say that, but
it-s another thing to see that all the saints have accomplished it,
which means that we can, too. We accomplish this by attempting to enter
into the mind of Christ. His mind is not closed to us at all; it is very
open. He desires us to know everyting. 

The only way to understand is to do. Live as a Christian. When you have
troubles in your life, go to the Lord in prayer. Don-t despair over
them. When you have some difficulty, ask the Lord to help you. It
doesn-t mean you won-t have difficulties, it doesn-t mean you won-t be
sad. It doesn-t mean you won-t sometimes be perplexed, as the Apostle
says. It doesn-t mean that you won-t feel tired, and lonely, and very
sad. All these are human things, that even occurred in our Lord Jesus
Christ-s life. But how did He live? How did He react when He was tired,
and lonely, and sad? By living righteously at every moment. By never
failing to struggle. By never failing to die daily. 

So, brothers and sisters, we should die. Let us not be afraid of dying.
Let us not be afraid of getting rid of that which is already a festering
sore in us anyway. Let us get rid of these things, of our evils, and of
our desires for ourselves, and of our desire for comfort, of our anxiety
about the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that. Let
us live just as Jesus Christ lived. He-ll make us capable of doing it.
And if we die, then we know what the end will be. The apostle says,
?Knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus Christ shall raise us up
also by Jesus, and present us with you. The Lord will raise us up. 

Now, if we have not lived as He has taught us to live here, on the
earth, then in the last days, we won-t know Him and we won-t understand
Him. Salvation is not a judicial concept, being in the Chuch does not
guarantee we will go to Heaven and not Hell. To be with Christ ? truly
to be with Him, to understand Him ? is to live as He lived on the earth,
and as He has shown through all his saints how to live. Then we will
understand him. Then there will be this marvelous, shall we say, meeting
of the minds. Our little, weak, small mind, like a drop of water, in the
ocean of the knowledge of God. May God bless you, and help you in all
things. Amen. 

 This Holy was preached on the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, 2002. The
Scriptures read on this day were 2 Cor 4:6-15,  Mat 22:35-46

 2 Cor 4:6

 2 Cor 4:7

 Cf. [Rev 21:1-3]  And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first
heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
{2} And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God
out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. {3} And I
heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God
is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people,
and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

 Lucifer

 2 Cor 4:8-10

 Cf. [2 Cor 4:8-10]  We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed;
we are perplexed, but not in despair; {9} Persecuted, but not forsaken;
cast down, but not destroyed; {10} Always bearing about in the body the
dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made
manifest in our body.

 See Note 2 

 Cf. [Mark 12:32-34]  And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou
hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but
he: {33} And to love him with all the heart, and with all the
understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to
love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings
and sacrifices. {34} And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he
said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man
after that durst ask him any question.

 2 Cor 4:14