Monday, December 9, 2013
Seeking Salvation ( Elder Ambrose of Optina )
Through the words of Peter of Damascus, while a Christian lives on Earth, his salvation remains between fear and hope. But humans still keep searching for total fulfillment on Earth and that from locations or from people, when Christ Himself says in the Scripture: "You will be sorrowful in this world." These words clearly show that irrespective where a Christian is located, he cannot be without some type of sorrow. There is only one solace – in fulfilling the laws of the Scriptures, just as the Psalm says: "Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble." (Psalm 119:165) If something or someone does tempt or confuse us, it clearly shows that we are not relating correctly to God’s laws, among which the greatest one is that of not judging or condemning anyone. On Judgement Day, everyone will either be glorified or shamed by their deeds. The Old Testament decrees that we attend ourselves toward salvation and betterment of our soul. It is towards this that we should concern ourselves mostly.
There isn’t anywhere that God induces us against our will, but rather offers us a choice for our determination, and it is through the personal will that individuals turn out to be either good or evil. Therefore, it is useless to blame those that live with us or surround us as interfering and impeding our salvation or spiritual improvement. Samuel lived and was brought up by the priest Elias, among his debauched sons, yet preserved himself and was a great prophet. Even in Heaven, Eve violated God’s law. While Judas, living three years in the presence of Christ Himself, did not improve even though he saw so many miracles and continually heard the Scriptural sermons, but became worse and sold his Teacher and the world’s Redeemer, for thirty pieces of silver.
Our failure to find spiritual fulfillment emanates from us ourselves, from our ignorance and our incorrect thinking which we are loathe to part with. And it is this that leads us to confusion and doubt and various perplexities; all this torments and weighs us down into a disconsolate circumstance. It would be good if we were able to understand the simple words of a holy father: "If we humble ourselves, and not mentally roam all over places where it will not improve us and maybe make us worse, we will find peace in every situation."
Elder Ambrose of Optina