Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Band of Spiritual Firebrands

By Alexia Ioannides
Contributing Writer

“What our present generation wants, especially in our country, is a true theological revival — a revival of a living theology, which would unlock for us that Truth which one can find in the Scriptures, in the Tradition, and in the Liturgical life of the Church, but which is sealed away from us by our ignorance and neglect. We need today more than ever before, precisely a “band of spiritual firebrands” who can inflame minds and hearts with the fire of a loving knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, the Redeemer. God calls us, in our generation, to be His witnesses and messengers. How can men believe if they do not hear the quickening Word? Even if we are men of unclean lips, let us respond to the Divine call, and the fire of the Spirit will cleanse us, for the ministry of the Word.” V. Rev. George Florovsky, D.D.

After I had finished reading this excerpt, I felt completely refreshed because its words resonated with my thoughts, regarding the present spiritual condition of the Church, especially the youth. To my surprise, I noticed that the article was published in 1952. I was astonished that it was written over fifty years ago, and yet, carries an urgent message that crosses all barriers of time- the world needs a “band of spiritual firebrands.”

Even though I had conceived an idea of what a firebrand could be, I decided to look up the Webster’s definition.

1) A piece of burning wood,
2) One that creates unrest or strife (as in aggressively promoting a cause), AGITATOR.

As I was reading this, simultaneously, the words of Christ in Luke 12:49 surfaced in my mind: “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” My questions are: if the Church is truly the Body of Christ, then are we the instruments by which He uses to manifest His fire upon the Earth? How can Christ kindle His fire- that which will cause division and separate the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats- if it is not through the working of His Body?

Indeed, the Church is composed of pieces of wood that must be enflamed by the consuming fire of His Presence, to go forth to the nations, not in word but in power, and ignite the flames of His Holy Gospel within the hearts of the spiritually dead. In Matthew 11:12, Christ said that since the days of John the Baptist, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.

It’s not sufficient that we have been given the writings of our forefathers, through Holy Scripture and Tradition. We must forcefully lay hold of and act upon the truth contained in these inspired writings, to prove to the world that the law is written in our hearts; not merely on tablets of stone. What law was Christ alluding to? It is the law that all laws rest upon- Love. We are commanded to love the Lord with all our being, and love our neighbor as we love ourselves. By this, all people will know that we belong to Him. Love is the mark of a true disciple.

Orthodox Christians need to fully grasp that we are walking temples where a universe lies within- the kingdom of God- a kingdom of peace, joy and righteousness in the Holy Spirit. Such torchbearers, who carry the fire of His presence, must not hide, but instead be a city on a hill that gives light to the world.

The Pharisees, who were hardened and blinded from knowing these truths, along with the rest of the Jews, were eagerly awaiting a Messiah who would deliver them from the harsh oppression of their enemies, and establish a heavenly kingdom on Earth. They didn’t understand that Christ came to first establish divine reign within the hearts of men. Till this day, many still do not understand. It is this divine call that Rev. Florovsky is urging the “band of spiritual firebrands” to respond to and declare. Even if we feel unworthy, rest assured- God is able to cleanse and empower us for the glory of His Name’s sake.


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