False and/or Misleading Statements
Throughout history this expression has been used by kings and nations of this earth to form alliances to deal with a common enemy. For us Orthodox Christians, however, this should never be the basis for a ‘friendship.’ The Church must always stand only with Christ, and it should not ever seek an alliance with some entity or government outside of the Orthodox Church, no matter how formidable the enemy is or how “correct” they may seem in their views.
We can and should be grateful to people or governments under whose authority the Church can function in peace. We pray for them but we must never allow the Church to become dependent upon them to keep us safe from a mutual enemy – just as we should never become dependent upon them to uphold Christ’s Truth.
St. Luke tells us that when the Apostle Paul preached in Thyatria, “a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation…But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.” (Acts 16:16-18)
This fortuneteller was not spreading lies about the apostles, but providing a service to the preachers. Yet, Apostle Paul chased out the spirit that was within her – for which He and Silas suffered a whipping and imprisonment “when her masters saw the hope of their gains gone.” (Acts16:19) This event in and of itself tells us that Christ’s Truth does not accept witness from evil persons and spirits or from non-believers.
Neither can we ever consider any such ‘symbiotic’ relation or alliance with evil to help insure the survival of His Church, no matter how noble this intention to serve the Church may be. Many Orthodox Christians made the tragic mistake of siding with Hitler during WWII because they considered him to be the savior of everyone suffering under Stalin’s godless and ruthless regime.
A lesson should be drawn from this, so as to not to allow history to repeat itself. I have personally heard a person who spoke fondly of and sided with Muslims against the Jews who are seeking to rebuild their temple and who are preparing a throne in Jerusalem for their Messiah – Antichrist.
It is important for us to understand with conviction the falsehood of the statement “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” in these perilous times when the people of this earth are being manipulated to accept the New World Order and Antichrist himself. We must side with no one! Carrying one’s cross, suffering, and martyrdom is the narrow path by which we follow Christ into His Kingdom. It is not for us to attempt to mitigate the circumstances of an impending persecution using people not of God in order to prolong our comfortable way of life here on earth. One would be doing so at the expense of his eternal salvation.
“Apostasy is an allowance of God. Do not be tempted to stop it with your weak hand. Go away and save yourself from it, and this will be adequate of you. Understand the spirit of these times, study it, so as – to the extent possible, you will avoid its influence.” (St. Ignatius Branchaninov)
This misleading statement is often said in an attempt to disguise an evident contradiction of facts, to dismiss the confusion of the person being lied to, or to put an end to questions about these lies to which there is no truthful explanation. Some lies, such as those perpetuated by governments upon its peoples, have been reworded to make them palatable to the masses: “We are unable to give you an explanation as to why there were so many civilian casualties because of the fog of war.” Some, even amongst the faithful, attribute to Christ’s teachings this false statement about black and white that teaches us to prefer and look for nuance and subtleties rather than Truth and clarity. These men and women say in their hearts that the Church (the True Church) does not provide us with all the answers.
This is not so! In the realm of God, in the teachings of the Holy Scriptures, in the context of our spiritual lives and our salvation, everything is ‘black and white.’ Light/darkness, good/bad, Truth/falsehood, life/death, eternal life/eternal damnation. There is no ‘in-between.’ Everything is ‘either – or.’ We can also add to this: Everything is either from God or from the Devil.
Christ is the Truth and the Light. A person who does not walk in the Light does not walk in some sort of twilight, but in darkness. (The physical properties of the light in this universe with its various shades of gray must not be confused with the Light of Christ.)
We must not attribute this worldly statement that I speak of about “black and white” to that which is from God. Perhaps you may have never thought seriously about this, and you may ask: “Why is this important?”
For most people there comes a time when they reach a cross-road where they are faced with a decision. It could concern their family, a job, or it could be a spiritual decision. As difficult as it can be to make the right decision, we are also at this time confused by thoughts sown into our mind and soul by the evil one. When we are not sure if something is from God or from the evil one, consider this: If something presents a dilemma, is confusing, foggy, or creates the uneasy feeling that something is not quite right – even though we can not put our finger on it, we can be sure that it is not from God!
That which is from God brings peace and serenity, not trepidation and thoughts about “what if?” That which is from God is pure and sound, devoid of any contradiction or uncertainty. It is the true Light of Christ “and the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John, 1:5)
On more than one occasion I have heard people using this expression lament the fact that they are not receiving that which they pray for. God, Who is almighty, all-seeing, all-hearing, is also everywhere present. It is our own incorrect mindset that leads us to think that God does not hear us when we pray to Him. Nothing and no one escapes His attention. When we sing the words “Hear me, O Lord” during Vespers, we are beseeching Him to hearken to our prayers. There is no implication in these words that God “is not listening.” God also hears our sighs; the tiniest tear drop does not escape His attention. It is therefore very important for us to not fret or to think that God is not paying attention and listening to our prayers. He is!
The problem is within ourselves. Before you stand up to pray for something before His Holy Icon, it is to your benefit to first relax, to sit down if you need to, to put away all worldly concerns, and then think seriously about the fact that God, Whose love and mercy towards you is beyond description, beyond your comprehension, is looking upon you at this very moment. Take the time to contemplate what it is exactly, that you are planning to ask of God. Most of the time we fail to comprehend the fact that our Father gives us what we need even prior to us asking Him.
We may think that we are praying for something good and beneficial, but due to our shortsightedness, we fail to realize that our short-term, worldly requests will not be, in the long run, conducive to our salvation. A while back one of my former parishioners told me: “Our church is small and old, with many much needed repairs and limited parking spaces. I buy lottery tickets and pray that I win a million dollars so that I can build a new church.” I don’t think it is necessary for me to explain here why God ‘does not hear’ such a prayer.
There are most likely many other reasons, causes known only unto Him, why our all-knowing God withholds from us that which we desire to receive.If you bring this brief time of reflection before you make your petitionary prayers to its natural conclusion, you will most likely realize –as you stand up to begin your prayers - that what is most important is “that God’s Will be done.” How many times have people taken an action saying “I would have never imagined that such an endeavor could go so wrong, but it did?” When we pray unto Him, He most definitely hears us, and looks upon us with kindness and love, and, if He withholds something from us, we can be sure that it is for our own good.