The Means to Salvation and Our Basis for Mission
Our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. In His person He reconciled man to the Creator of all. So great was His love for those whom He fashioned in His image that He Who is God, “made himself of no reputation, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). In the history of the world no greater act of love has ever been performed.
Christ Who is both perfect God and perfect Man, being an actual historical figure, was the only One in the history of the world who ever revealed the truth about God and human e
All that our Lord accomplished during His earthly life was for the salvation of the world, and that because of God’s boundless love for man. Jesus taught that God is love and that man, being created in His image, should reflect that divine love. The central theme of all of Jesus’ preaching was love.
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (22: 37-39)
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven...” (Matthew 5: 44-45)
And then, St. Paul, who was chosen as the Apostle to convey our Lord’s teachings to the whole world, who understood so deeply the importance of Christ’s Advent, says in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing..........And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” (13: 1-3, 13)
The message is clear enough. Though we have faith and hope, if we have not love, we are nothing. Or to put it in personal terms, related to daily responsibilities: even if we have “our Church” and faithfully perform all that is required of us by the local community; even if we serve long vigils and pray day and night; even if we develop worthwhile ministries and projects within parishes and dioceses; even if we keep all of the fasts and observe every Church holiday; if we do not have love, but rather, are filled with hatred, resentment, pride or arrogance, our efforts are for nothing. We may even profess to have the True Faith, but if love is lacking our efforts to propagate that faith sound like the ravings of fanatics, to those both within and outside the Church.
Love is not only that which saves us and the content of the Christian life, but inasmuch as it is that it also constitutes the basis of all Christian endeavor including missionary activity. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John ). In recent years the Orthodo