God came down from heaven to lift us up to heaven. If we believe in Him, we will be raised up to heaven by Christ. We have to learn to stop looking down on everyone as if we are the ones who are perfect. When we do not believe in Christ, we are already condemned. Many go through life experiencing hell because we refuse to see God’s love and spend all our time looking down on everyone around us. We need to come down and life each other up to heaven.
My brothers and sisters, we just heard an incredible challenge from God. In this morning’s gospel this Sunday before the Holy Cross, the evangelist John begins, he says, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is the son of man who is in heaven.” John continues that, “Whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” This proclamation from St. John reminding us that Christ is going to go up on the cross for us. You see my brothers and sisters, in order to lift us up to heaven, God came down to our level. He came down and became one of us, not just so he could hang around with us, not so that we could be justified in our sinfulness as if somehow we are okay the way we are because God came down to our level. That was just the beginning. God came down to our level to raise us up with him into heaven.
My brothers and sisters, if we want to follow God to heaven, if we want to be raised up into heaven, we have to learn how to come down in our contemporary language. We have to come down off our high horse. We go through life thinking we are so superior than everybody else. We think we are the only ones who have perfected faith. We think as if because by birthright we call ourselves Greek Orthodox Christians, we think somehow we are superior to other human beings. We have lifted ourselves up. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to hold us from falling back down because our job as Christians is to believe in Christ. Not just to believe about Him, not just to say that we believe, but to actually believe the words that come out of His mouth, to actually believe the faith that He has given us.
Now, we didn’t hear this verse in this morning’s gospel, but it’s the very next verse in the gospel itself Saint, John says, “He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God.” You see, my brothers and sisters, when we do not believe, and I mean really believe, we are already condemned. Many of us go through life already experiencing hell. And it’s not because God has put His judgment on us. It’s not that God is torturing us. It’s not that somehow God is smiting us on purpose. We, in our disbelief, we create our own hell, we create our own torment because we refuse to see the love of God. We refuse to see that God who’s willing to give up all his glory in heaven to come and be one of us, to bring us to heaven. Well, that means every one of us He wants to bring to heaven, even the ones that you and I don’t think deserve to be there.
And you’re fooling yourselves. We are fooling ourselves if we think that we don’t think there’s someone who doesn’t belong in heaven. We go through every day of life judging other people. He’s not going to go there. “He’s not going to be there. He’s not going to be there. Well, maybe she’ll be there.” Notice I didn’t point to you, so you’re okay so far. But we never place ourselves in hell. We always place ourselves up above looking down at the condemned. But Christ wants us to come down off our high horse, to come down and be with each other as brothers and sisters and lift each other up to heaven. This is the great challenge that God has given us.
You see my brothers and sisters, if we… How do I want to say this? If we can’t be good with God loving our enemies, if we can’t appreciate with joy that God loves those who hate us, then we are the ones who don’t believe in Christ. You see, there’s no one on the face of the earth who has ever lived, who is alive or whoever will live, there’s not a single human being that God loves any less than any one of us, nor any more than any one of us.
So this week, my challenge for you, and it’s not an easy one, but it’s a basic one, stop looking down on each other. Stop thinking that we are the only ones who got it right. Stop thinking that we are the only ones who don’t have anything to repent for. And then in your prayers, beg God to help you see the truth that is in your heart. Beg God to help you have the true joy in seeing God’s love in other people. And if at all possible, and we know that with God things all things are possible, if it is in our hearts, love even the most despised among us. We don’t have to like what they do, but we have to learn that they are no less than we are. We have to come down, we have to be with each other.
And then God’s going to lift us all up to heaven. Then we’re going to arise and the angels will bring us up to God. And you know who’s going to be there? Not just the saints, but the sinners as well. God. And we’re going to see God loving everybody. And because we were able to bring our hearts down to each other, we’re going to see that love and be filled with joy and happiness and love. So let’s get down off of the horse and lift each other up before we worry about having to look down on each other. Glory to God for all things.