As you might know, my translation of the final portion of Fr. Boules George’s sermon went viral. And I mean whoa!
The site had more views in a day than I have had so far in one month! And this lasted for days before beginning to taper off–
The responses I have gotten from this post have been amazing!! The comments, the e-mails, the shares, the reprint requests… Undoubtedly, this post on Fr. Boules’s sermon has done what I never really envisioned for CDM: it has become a portrait of the Coptic Orthodox Church for those outside the faith.
But I really need to stop us here to say that the numbers are really meaningless. It doesn’t at all matter how many people saw the post or shared the post or commented on the post in and of itself.
The Bible is the world’s bestselling book, but how many people live its teachings? Likewise, the best crafted sermon is inert until we choose to act on it, until we choose to do as it says, until we choose to cooperate with God.
The best crafted sermon is inert until we choose to act on it!
We must cooperate with God. This is becoming more and more clear to me. God will not make us do anything. Ever. He is not an arm twister. Stand in the sun or hide in the shadows–He will respect your choices. He will not make you love your neighbor and love your enemy–though He pleads with you to.
CATCH THE VIRUS
So this sermon, this viral sermon, is of no use to one’s salvation until its message is taken into the heart, into the core of one’s very being (the “will” as C.S. Lewis calls it). It has to actually go viral–like a virus. It has to worm its way in and result in measurable internal and external changes.
Are you showing symptoms?
If the sermon actually affected you, if it actually changed you from the inside, where are the symptoms of that change? “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26)…
For example, you all heard Fr. Boules George say we should commit to praying for our enemies. How many of us have begun to do that regularly? I know I managed to do it once or twice before growing cold and disinterested.
Here is a prayer list for you: Suggested Prayer List
Is it as hard for you as it is for me to say their names without disgust and disdain? We are only human. These are some of the people who are calling for our deaths and the deaths of their own neighbors. These are the people who are so twisted that they seek to destroy instead of build.
But I will release my fear, my anger, my bitterness, and lift these names to God. Lord, take the hearts of stone; give hearts of love alone–give to us and give to them. No one can work here like You.
I heard a message once about how selfishness takes us “out of the Spirit”–that any time you create an us vs. them you lose touch with God. Oneness of God requires oneness with our neighbors. Our God is He “who desires all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4)…
Let’s look at that whole section all together:
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
If you remember in the section of Fr. Boules’s sermon that I translated, the major part was taken by “giving of thanks… for all men.” He thanked those who hate and kill us for their indirect contributions to Christianity and to the blessings inadvertently bestowed on the martyrs. He closed with that call to pray for them.
I’m not going to twist your arm and make you add these names to your prayer list.
But I am going to ask you to stop right now, close your eyes, and lift them to God with as much peace of heart as you can muster. And if you can’t muster any, ask God to give you peace as well.
Just think–a mustard seed worth of faith can move mountains and transplant trees. Surely the quiet whispers of love and forgiveness we utter together can penetrate the hearts of these men.
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