Tuesday, April 21, 2009

FATHERS: Leaping for Hate

“Blessed are you when men hate you.” The Lord desired that we should leap for joy in persecutions, because when they occur, then are given crowns of faith, then the soldiers of God are proved, and the heavens opened. He will confess those before His Father who confess Him, and will deny those who deny Him, therefore, be not moved. (The Epistle to Thibaris, Cyprian, ca. 200-258)

The Eastern Church, in which Cyprian is a primary figure, sees the life of the Christian as one of being formed into the shape of the God-man Jesus. The name given to this shaping is “deification,” or being made partakers in the divine. According to Cyprian, a major catalyst in this process is the hatred we experience from others for who we are in Christ. He repeatedly quotes the Lord who frequently addressed the subject, and then reminds us that this very contest between the haters and the hated is the means appointed by God for being drawn into Him. And the victory is attained by joyful trust as we are being destroyed. If Cyprian were around today he might teach a class on smiling as you are destroyed for Christ sake, and find that no one would show up.

1 comment:

  1. John advises readers of a letter to "test the spirits". Anyone ever get a 100 on every test taken? Of course not. Nor have I been right all the time when discerning "spirits".
    There have been times, I am quite sure, that I was hated for my faith. There were times, too, I am sure, that I was hated for the hateful way I presented the "Gospel". A few different variations on "Get right with God, like I am right, or you will go to hell." I was taught to "hate the sin, love the sinner".
    Experience taught me that there was not much good news in that brand of the Gospel. Rather, I learned to "forgive the sin, love the sinner".
    Experience has taught me too, that like Paul, I needed to pray that God would open a door of utterance, and then to speak "the Mystery of Christ".
    A lot different, agreed?
    But testing the spirits, has shown me that there are those, with no words spoken to them, hate me.
    Ah, a chance to develop those Forgiveness and Love muscles.
    Perhaps the only chance to do so? For what good is it, Jesus asked, to love those who only love you?