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Remember Your Conversion

Whether we were ‘born into’ the Church of became Orthodox later in life, each of us has a conversion story. We can remember that day, or season, when we realized our faith in Christ was something that we were serious about. We also can remember days or seasons when that faith waned a bit, and we strayed from the path.

Brethren, recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.  For you had compassion on the prisoners, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.  Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised.  “For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry; but my righteous one shall live by faith.”

Hebrews 10.32-38

In today’s lesson from Saint Paul, we are invited to remember those days of the past when our faith was stronger. He understood that faith would ‘ebb and flow’ throughout the challenges of life. He understood we would not always be strong enough to fight off temptation. Maybe recalling the ‘stronger days’ can give us inspiration to get back on track.

One big difference between the ancient Church and today is that we no longer believe, “For yet a little while, and the coming one and shall not tarry.” It has been more than two millennia, and Christ has not returned. Although we still believe He will return, we no longer think it will be soon, let alone in our lifetime.

Most assuredly it was not easy losing one’s home or job, but ‘if’ Jesus was going to be back so soon, waiting wasn’t a permanent state. We only had to wait until He came back. As time went on, and Christ didn’t come back so soon, we began to fall away. Remembering the courage and ‘fire’ of our faith from then was enough to get us back on track.

Today the Church commemorates Saint Ignatius the God-bearer, the second bishop of Antioch and disciple of Saint John the Theologian. He was thrown to the lions, but not before he chastised his followers to not deny him his martyrdom. I dare anyone today to have faith like Saint Ignatius.

Today, we run from the smallest of struggles. We hide from the simplest persecution. We would rather remain silent in a hostile work environment, than to declare our faith in Christ. But there was a time when we were more fervent. There was a time we were willing to refuse a job if the environment was spiritually dangerous.

The truth is, we don’t know when Christ will return. He will come as a thief in the night, but we who are vigilant will be blessed. I’m not saying you should go stand on your desk at work and start preaching. I am saying that if living by the standards of Christ means finding a new job, then start looking.

Remember the days of your conversion when you were ‘on fire’ for Christ. The memory will give you strength to reignite the fire in your heart. It will give you endurance and you will receive what God promised, a life with Him in paradise. He may or may not come today, but at least you will be ready to greet Him.

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