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Finding God within you | Fr. Theodore of Georgia | Eastern Orthodox Church

Join Fr. Theodore as he delves into the profound concept of finding God within ourselves. In this enlightening talk, Fr. Theodore explores the teachings of St. Basil the Great and other spiritual luminaries to illustrate how, as Christians, we carry the temple of God within us wherever we go. Learn how this inner connection with the divine shapes our spiritual journey, strengthens our faith, and guides our actions. Join us in uncovering the timeless wisdom of the Orthodox tradition and embracing the profound truth that God is truly with us, always. Archpriest Theodore Gignadze is the rector of the Elevation of the Holy Cross Orthodox Church (JC), Tbilisi, Georgia. This sermon was delivered on October 12th, 2023 in Tbilisi. Watch the full sermon with English subtitles here: https://youtu.be/svXNmmi6PH0

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Fr. Theodore:

We say, “God is with us”. What does this mean? This is not a metaphor. God is truly with us if we are Christians. God is with us mystically, of course, but He is with us in two ways, we may say. It’s a crude way to put it when speaking about God, but so that it can be explained better. One: God is in our midst. We stand here, gathered in the name of Christ, so God is with us. He is in our midst, which is why He says that wherever two or three are gathered in His name, He is there also. And two: He is within us, as in a temple. Therefore, us gathering as the Church means that we gather to experience God, and to learn to respect and love one another. This is a precursor to us becoming temples of God, so that He may abide within us too. And when we seek God within us, when we open up our hearts to Him and become His temples, this becomes a precursor to us being the Church.

In a way, this is something, which has no beginning or end, it is something circular, where it’s hard to tell which flows out of which, and there seems to be a no clear cause-and-effect relationship between the two. God is both in our midst, as well as being within us. By the way, it is often the case that one can feel that God is in our midst, and therefore he loves coming here. Here, he feels the presence of God. Here, he doesn’t throw stones (figuratively speaking). Here, he behaves properly. However, as soon as he drifts away from the church for a period of time, he finds himself in a state where he can’t even recognize himself, and neither can we. When he comes back, he has a complete mess in the head, is in complete disarray internally, and often, has even committed the deadliest of sins. What happened? Why does a person do this? Why does this kind of thing happen to him? This happens because even though he can feel and experience that God is in our midst, within him there is no presence of God.

In theory, a Christian is a person who carries his temple with him at all times. Wherever you go, you carry your temple with you. This is why St. Nicholas Kabasillas says: if you find God within you, then it makes no difference whether you’re a monastic or a layperson; it makes no difference what position you hold in society. St. Basil the Great says that even if you lived in a large, crowded place, it would make no difference – if you have found God within you, if you have become a temple of God, no matter where you go, you take this temple with you. And if due to certain circumstances, independent of you, you’re unable to come to church, you don’t lose grace, because you are having a divine service within you, when with your nous in the heart, you continuously call upon Jesus Christ [within your temple].

What do the words “within your temple“ mean? It not only means that there is God within you, but also that there is a divine service taking place there. As Apostle Peter tells us, (and the Book of Revelation speaks of this as well): Every Christian is a priest. And the priest making the offering is the nous, not our brain, but the nous, a cognitive organ within us, which has the ability to know God, and which continuously makes this bloodless sacrifice in the holy altar (the heart of every person). There, he continuously makes the bloodless sacrifice, the verbal sacrifice of praise, glorification, and thanksgiving of God. And these kinds of people then realize themselves as the Church, which means that they stand in one spirit, and then we create one Body. One might be an ear, another – a nose, another – a finger, someone else – an eye, and how strange it is when we don’t love one another.

It is an absolute nonsense. As soon as a finger decides to no longer be a part of the body, gangrene happens to it and it needs to be amputated, and, unfortunately, we are often on the verge of being amputated from the Church Organism. And then Apostle Paul continues: “with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel.” We stand fast in one spirit and we strive together for the faith of the Gospel. In other words, we are continuing the work of Christ. Therefore, doing the missionary work, spreading the word of God, embodying the Christian way of life, being an example to others, is an obligation for each one of us, and of course, particularly for the clergy.


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