Being Taught

Christ is Risen!

As you can imagine I regularly meet individuals who express a desire to become Orthodox. Sometimes they have never been baptized. Other times they are fleeing from one ‘version’ of Christianity or another. Sometimes even, as was likely the case in the ancient world, some want to be Orthodox because it comes with some sort of benefit. No matter the reason, one cannot ‘just become’ Orthodox without some level of training.

In those days, an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert road. And he rose and went. And behold, an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a minister of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of all her treasure, had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless some one guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the scripture which he was reading was this: “As a sheep led to the slaughter or a lamb before its shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken up from the earth.” And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, pray, does the prophet say this, about himself or about some one else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this scripture he told him the good news of Jesus. And as they went along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What is to prevent my being baptized?” And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught up Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.

Acts 8.26-39

One of my favorite responses to faith, was from the eunuch. “How can I, unless someone guides me?” There is an old Greek saying that translates, “I grow old always being taught.” You may have heard this saying as, “I grow old always learning.” There is a difference between being taught and learning. You can learn from a book. You can only be taught by another human being.

Unless your name is Philip, chances are slim to nothing that God is speaking directly to you. That doesn’t make you less; it makes you like the rest of us. We all need to be guided like the eunuch. Whether our parents brought us for baptism before we could speak for ourselves, or if we are just now discovering the Church, we all must be guided. We all must be taught.

Being taught requires a relationship. It cannot be done through a website or YouTube Channel, even if that website is Be Transfigured Ministries. Our commitment is always to refer people to their spiritual father for guidance. When it comes to joining the Church, especially as an adult, this is most important. There are too many uneducated sources of information on the internet.

The other part of ‘being taught’ that is important when it comes to joining the Church, is experience. I do not recommend having a new convert as a mentor. Orthodox Christianity must be experienced through life to fully understand the benefits of the Church. It is another reason the Church ‘pairs us up’ with Godparents who can share their lived experience and help to guide us in the faith. That requires experience.

In the end, joining the Church is a process of becoming. We don’t simply become Orthodox, in the fullest sense, at our baptism or Chrismation. We become Orthodox through living the faith and being guided into a fuller experience of God. We could rewrite the old saying, “I grow to become Orthodox always being taught.”

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