Don’t Be Led Astray

It is tempting to trust everything someone in authority says. We know intuitively that not everyone will speak the truth. In fact, many will speak lies to further their own agenda. This is true not only in politics, but also in the Church. For centuries the Church has been fighting against such realities, always remaining true to the teachings Christ gave to the Holy Apostles.

Brethren, remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their lives, and imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.  Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents.  We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.  For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp.  So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.  Therefore let us go forth to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured.  For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come.  Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.  Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Hebrews 13.7-16

Today’s reading is in honor of Saint Theodosius the Cenobiarch. He fought through prayer and strict ascetic living to defend the truth of the Church. He is remembered for his fervent faith and devotion to God. I have been blessed to visit the monastery he founded, and prayed in front of his relics.

As Orthodox Christians we are living in strange times. The Church seems to always be on the threshold of schism. The battles of the ancient heresies were won, not by grandstanding, but with fervent prayer and worship. We cannot defend the truth of the Church, which is supposed to be the truth of Christ, sitting in our library chair. The truth was always victorious because the Church was dedicated to Christ and THE truth.

Lately, it seems many are concerned with THEIR truth. I have preached and written often about truth. It would be naïve to think we are immune from the ancient struggle for truth. Consider the temptations the devil continues to level at the Church. He never stops searching for a willing participant to skew the truth about God.

The simplest solution is to trust your spiritual father. If you believe your spiritual father is loyal to the truth of the Christ and His Church, then listen to his advice. Many accusations being thrown around lately are not theologically based, let alone historically accurate.

If you believe your spiritual father is not loyal to the truth, then seek one who is. Here is where you must use caution. YOU may be the one wrong, not your spiritual father. Don’t risk your salvation with arrogance. Saint Theodosius defended the truth through prayer and strict ascetic life. Focus on your sins first, then worry about the so-called heretics in the Church.

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