Let Me Speak about Jesus
The other day I had the privilege of enjoying time spent with a group of pastors (I was the only priest present) and Dave Ramsey, the well-known Christian-based financial planner. I am a big fan of his program, and share it with every young couple I meet, as well as my entire parish. His financial advice and teaching on how to live debt free have changed my daily experiences, but that was not the most inspiring part of being with him. At the beginning of the luncheon that he was hosting in honor of Christian pastors, he shared a story about ‘how it all began’ for him more than thirty years ago. He was a young and impressionable young man attending a business seminar when he heard the words that would change his life. “If you want to be successful in business, you have to know Jesus.” Dave repeated these words several times, and then I realized his mission. He was an evangelist that used financial planning to teach about Jesus. He went on to share several stories about his ministry and made it a point to tell us he refuses to speak, or even rent a facility in which he cannot speak about Jesus. That’s when it occurred to me. How many of us would have such a strict ‘let me speak about Jesus’ policy in our business settings? So, today’s blog isn’t about Dave Ramsey, nor about debt free living, even though you should invest your time in getting to know his program. Today is the Feast of Saints Constantine and Helen, Equal to the Apostles. It is because of Saint Constantine that we Christians are allowed to even consider a ‘let me speak about Jesus’ policy in the first place. It was Saint Constantine that legalized the Church, and every Christian should honor him for that effort. There is a dangerous tendency among clergy, Orthodox and non-Orthodox, to consent to taking the name ‘Jesus’ out of prayers and speeches. It is one reason I rarely accept opportunities to offer public prayers unless I am ‘allowed’ to offer an Orthodox Christian Prayer. This practice is secular at its core, since it presumes that we Christians can separate our faith in Jesus from our daily jobs. This concept might work for other faiths, but Christianity in its core is what we call a ‘whole-life’ experience. One simply cannot be Christian but not a Christian worker. It may sound like a stretch, but if our faith doesn’t permeate every aspect of our lives, it remains an intellectual exercise. Our society has strayed far from the days when Orthodox Christianity was the ‘law of the land’ under Saint Constantine. Little by little, and leap by leap, our society is returning to a pre-Constantine attitude where ‘let me speak about Jesus’ policies are simply unacceptable. As Orthodox Christians, we MUST fight this tendency so long as we are able. We may not be able to stop it, but by God’s grace we can slow it down for the sake of our children. Let me get back to Dave Ramsey for a minute. He was honest with us when he said, “It is just who I am. I can’t NOT speak about Jesus.” Sometimes it is the little things that add up to larger blessings. If we can find the stamina to just be who we are as Orthodox Christians, the rest takes care of itself. Saint Constantine didn’t force others to become Christians. He just allowed Christians to be who they were, and the Church grew from there. If you want Orthodox Christianity to help heal our society, it won’t happen forcing others to think like we think, or act like we act. It will happen when we are who we are, not just in Church on Sunday, but every day in our jobs, in the marketplace, at home and with strangers. When we live AS Christians without separating out our faith from our job, then we can truly Live A New Life In Christ.