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Do you know what is the most terrifying verse in the Bible? | Fr. Philip Hall

Join Fr. Philip Hall on a profound journey as he explores the profound question: Where do we find God? In this enlightening video, discover that it’s not about where you go, but about opening your heart to where God chooses to dwell. Uncover the transformative truth that God comes to the very core of your being, making you pure. Explore the misconceptions of seeking God through special places, pilgrimages, or revered figures. Fr. Philip discusses the crucial realization that it’s not about reaching God; it’s about God reaching you. Fr. Philip emphasizes the importance of welcoming God into your heart and not asking Him to leave, echoing the Gospel story of a town that begged Jesus to depart – the most terrifying verse in the Bible.

All Saints of Lincolnshire Orthodox Christian Church, Lincoln, England, July, 2023.
Watch the full sermon on Archimandrite Philip’s channel.

Fr. Philip:

Let’s think about where we might go to find God. Perhaps you need to go on a special pilgrimage somewhere; you go all the way to Jerusalem or somewhere like this. Maybe you need to go to Ephesus and really sort of look for ancient Christian ruins and stuff, and thereby, somehow rather find God.

Perhaps you need instead to go to some faraway Monastery, some famous place; maybe you need to go to Mount Athos. Perhaps you need to go, I don’t know, to some certain city, some other where Christianity flourishes, and people know all about it through a long history of Christianity. Maybe something like Thessaloniki. I don’t know; perhaps we need to find some special person instead, some great authority, some greatly holy man or woman, a geron, geronda, somebody like that. Maybe the abbot or abbess of a monastery, maybe a famous bishop, perhaps some priest or some hermit; maybe that person can introduce you to our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, it might be something you need to do. Is there something you’ve got to do first? Are there things you need to learn about fasting, maybe learning about prayer; well, these things take you to God. Well, maybe it’s the St. Paul you’re thinking about, climbing up into heaven. Maybe you’re thinking about going down into the abyss, into hell. Maybe you’re thinking about doing special spiritual practices. In some parts of the world, people stand on one leg for a lifetime in order to mortify their bodies so they come closer to God, or they sit quietly for years and years and years, meditating themselves into oblivion. Maybe perhaps you need to think of giving up all food, living on only a cabbage leaf a week. All these things have been done by people at different times in order to bring themselves nearer to God.

Perhaps what you’re looking for is some sort of status within Christianity that will bring you closer to God; you know you need to be, I don’t know, the great panjandrum, the nabob of all. And then you think: maybe then I’ll have that spiritual experience that will bring me closer to God.

Well, obviously, none of those things, no matter how bad or how good you are, no matter how important you are or how unimportant you are, no matter how old you are or how young you are, no matter how well you are or how ill you are, it’s not you who goes to God; it’s our Lord who comes to you, and that is wonderful. He comes right into the very middle of you, like He did in that Gadarene village where He goes to the West part of the place where the tombs are. He finds the people with demons, and He then gets rid of the demons, goes right to the very heart of where He needs to be, and He makes it pure. He goes right to the very heart or wants to go right to the very heart of you and make you pure. He comes to you.

St. Paul says: your lips and your heart, your very center, your very being, what’s going on here and what comes out of you, this is where the Lord goes. We know where He is by what comes out of you, and if He’s in your heart, what you say and what you do will actually point directly to Him, even if inside you there is a tomb full of demons, the Lord will come into that tomb and make you pure.

So what then is the second most terrifying and terrible thing that is said in the Bible? Well, it’s towards the end of the reading we had today, in the Gospel of Matthew 8:34. It goes like this: and then the entire town came out to meet Jesus (so far so good), and when they saw Him, they begged him (sounds good so far) to leave their region. They beg God to go away! What could be more terrifying than that? More horrific, more soul-destroying than God coming to you right to the very center, the worst bit of you, and then you say: You know what? I really want you to go! I was happy with my demons, and I’d like to invite them back.

But that’s only the second most terrifying verse. The most terrifying is the one after it, Matthew 9:1. It goes like this: and Jesus got into the boat, and He crossed over to the other side, to His home. They begged God to leave, and the terrifying thing is that God left. That’s awful, appalling, shocking, dreadful, terrifying. If you ask God to go, He will do just that. He is not going to stick around where He’s not wanted. And you can carry on with your demons as before, so whatever else you do, please don’t do that. Don’t let that happen to you.

When God comes to you and He cleans out the demons within you, beg Him to stay, ask Him to stay, plead with Him to stay. Do you know what? He’ll be in your heart and on your lips, and you’ll be in Him and He in you, not just now, but into eternity. Your prayers! God bless you! Amen.



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