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From Humility to Freedom | The Reverse Logic of the Orthodox | Fr. Theodore | Episode 1

Welcome to the inaugural episode of our series on Orthodox Christian theology, hosted by Fr. Theodore from Georgia! In this captivating video, Fr. Theodore takes us on a journey through the profound concepts of divine freedom and humility as understood within Orthodox Christian tradition. Join Fr. Theodore as he delves into the rich tapestry of philosophical and theological insights, exploring the foundational principles that shape our understanding of God and existence. Through scriptural references, ancient wisdom, and contemporary reflections, Fr. Theodore offers illuminating perspectives that transcend any boundaries. Subscribe to our channel and turn on notifications to ensure you don’t miss out on upcoming episodes. Prepare to deepen your understanding of the Christian faith and embark on a journey of spiritual enlightenment.
Archpriest Theodore Gignadze is the rector of the Elevation of the Holy Cross Orthodox Church (JC), Tbilisi, Georgia. This sermon was recorded on April 2024 at the Elevation of the Holy Cross Church Complex.

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Fr. Theodore:

In philosophy, there is a concept of primary categories. This is when a term expresses a certain category that cannot be defined by other values or concepts. It is exactly the same in theology. These categories, we may say, lie at the foundation of Being. In other words, they are the qualities of God Himself.

Both freedom and humility, we may say, are qualities of God Himself. We know the words of the Lord from the Holy Gospel, where He says: “Learn of me, for I am meek and humble in heart.“ Humility is the ontological quality of the Holy Trinity, we may say (given that in inner life, the Holy Trinity is Three Persons, the union and relationship of three Divine Hypostases, the Being as Relationship), due to which God can be called love.

And as for freedom, it is a [form of] being that is not determined by anything external. This is also a divine quality. Therefore, in the created world, in the existing world, there can be no freedom, because the existing world, the created world, exists because of external causes, and this external cause [for the existence of the world] is God Himself. The world does not have the cause of its existence within itself. Therefore, it is determined [by outer causes], and is woven into a certain cause-and-effect chain, one might say. That is why there is no freedom in the created world, and as for humility, humility as a divine quality, does not exist either, because the love that Christ brought us as a new commandment, “a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you,“ this means that the love that Christ brought us as a new commandment, (and set Himself as an example for us to follow), it means that this kind of love, that is, true love, divine love, did not even exist in this world [prior to His coming]. It was given to us as a new commandment, to beings who bear the image and likeness of God within us. And love is based precisely on humility.

Without humility there is no love. One cannot love another person without expressing full humility before them. Christ loves us with boundless love because He humbled Himself even to death, even to hell, and of course gave us the way and the example, to us, beings created in His image and likeness, on how we must live, on how we can be saved, and how the potential that God has placed in us, can be realized. And therefore, when a person is detached from the living God by his faith, by his worldview, by his consciousness, by his way of life, then the values such as freedom and humility, remain unknown to him. They remain factually unknown. However, these words exist, and so a person charges these words with a different meaning, a different essence, and therefore, the words „humility“ and „freedom“, that are charged with a different meaning, raise the following question:

How can humility be the pathway to freedom? And this question is very important, because we need to have humility as well. Without humility, there is no Christianity at all. And the Lord, as I mentioned, directly tells us: “learn from me, for I am meek and humble in heart.“ And on the other hand, there is no Christianity without freedom either. The Lord tells us that we must come to know the Truth, that is, God Himself, who shall set us free. And so the question arises: how will humility give me freedom, how will it lead me to freedom?

[This question arises] because freedom is charged with a different meaning, which is not its true meaning. Same for humility. And so, from this-worldly perspective, what I call humility surely cannot lead me to what I call freedom. Therefore, in order to realize how humility leads us to freedom, of course we must understand the Christian meaning, the Christian essence of these words, which as I mentioned, is that these are the qualities of God Himself. Therefore, when we say that we need to practice and learn the virtue of humility, and that humility, as a virtue, needs to become an organic part of my nature, this means that Christ needs to abide in me. God has called me not just to moral perfection, with Him being an external authority for me, whom I need to resemble [in His morals]. Rather, God’s incarnation has brought into the world an astounding mystery, which is that a human being becomes a temple of God. And the first precedent of a man becoming a temple of God was the Incarnate God Himself. He calls Himself a temple. He calls His body, His human nature – a temple. God abided in Him to the fullest, as Apostle Paul tells us: “A great mystery has been fulfilled. God appeared in the flesh).“ God abided in Him to the fullest extent and I repeat, this was the first precedent that a human nature was realized as a temple of God. This is the idea, [the plan behind the creation] of a human being. And we, as parts of [the Body of] Christ, as those in union with Him… Isn’t this what it means to be a man of the New Testament? A man of the New Testament is he who has be enclothed by Christ, he who is in union with the Incarnate God. We too become temples of God, and Apostle Paul calls us, imperatively too, not to forget that we are temples of God. This means that the Lord lives within us, and since God lives within us, we are enriched with divine qualities, as iron becomes like fire when put into fire, the image and likeness of God begins to be realized in a person, when he becomes a bearer of God, that is, when God lives in him.

The Holy Gospel is filled with messages calling us to this mystery. And when God begins to live within us, we are enriched with divine qualities, we acquire divine qualities, the qualities of Christ and among them – humility. And as for freedom, if God were not, as a transcendent being, a transcendent, living, conscious Being, whose cause of existence is within Himself, if this was not the case, and if the world was only what we see, if there was no God, freedom as such would not exist, because, I repeat, everything would be determined. This is why one often refers to the expressions of his fallen will, the will of his fallen nature, as freedom, and when this astounding talent of a person goes into the service of his fallen nature, in order for one to be freed from this, he must mystically unite with the Being possessing absolute freedom.

Therefore, know the truth and the truth shall set you free. Knowing God entails an essential, ontological union with God. Apostle Peter says that we must become partakers of the divine nature. This happens because God gives us His energies, and we begin to live with His divine energies. Through this, God abides in us, and as I told you, we are enriched with divine qualities and mystically, in an way that is logically inexplicable, as we acquire the divine qualities, we become free, and therefore, since a human being is not just a biological being, or even just a spiritual being, this means that freedom is the quality, without which our humanness, our realization as human beings will not happen, and we will continue to be the abyss, which nothing can fill, as we read in the Book of Psalms.

That is why a human being is continuously searching for happiness, searching for goodness, but will never find it. And that’s why freedom is vitally important to us.

It is of vital importance to be and to live in freedom. However, we also need to know the Truth, which means that we need to have a relationship with God, and through this, we will become free. How can we know the Truth if we don’t express obedience to the Divine Providence, because freedom in a human being exists together with obedience. And obedience is the most significant expression of humility.

That is, I must have obedience to God’s will. I need to trust Him. And precisely in this obedience to God, in this trust in God, I am enriched with this astonishing, mystical quality called humility. And with humility, I gradually come to know God. I come to know the Incarnate God, and through knowing God, I begin to draw near to Him.

And through this, my bearing of Christ, my love for God, begins. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit begin to live within me, and I am enriched with the most important quality, a divine quality of freedom. Therefore, it is very important that we know that if we are Christians, our life must be a celebration in freedom, in this divine quality. And everything begins with humility, [and with obedience] to God, obedience to the Divine Providence, Divine Will.

One who is obedient to the divine will is grateful with everything. In everything, he trusts God. He doesn’t murmur; he does not complain; he does not grieve. He rejoices in everything and is always hopeful. He loves everyone. This is how Christianity begins with humility, which ultimately elevates us to freedom, which is the premise of our happiness, a state of abiding in the Heavenly Kingdom, a foretaste, while still being in the body, of full divine heavenly happiness and good.


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