Who Am I?

Four Hundred Texts on Theology (Third Century) 11

Posted: October 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: St. Maximos the Confessor | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Four Hundred Texts on Theology (Third Century) 11

28. Blessed is he who knows in truth that we are but tools in God’s hands; that it is God who effects within us all ascetic practice and contemplation, virtue and spiritual knowledge, victory and wisdom, goodness and truth; and that to all this we contribute nothing at all except a disposition that desires what is good. Zerubbabel had this disposition when he said to God: ‘Blessed art Thou who hast given me, wisdom; I give thanks to Thee, 0 Lord of our fathers; from Thee comes victory and wisdom; and Thine is the glory and I am Thy servant’ (1 Esd. 4:59-60). As a truly grateful servant he ascribed all things to God, who had given him everything. He possessed wisdom as a gift from God and attributed to Him as Lord of his fathers the efficacy of the blessings bestowed on him. These blessings are, as we have said, the union of victory and wisdom, virtue and spiritual knowledge, ascetic practice and contemplation, goodness and truth. For when these are united together they shine with a single divine glory and brightness.

It has always been the Christian teaching that our true inner transformation, our reshaping according to the image of Jesus, happens in and through the power of God. As St. Maximos says here, “we contribute nothing at all except a disposition that desires what is good” — which is to say a disposition that desires God.

However, there sometimes seem to be many Christians today who discount the importance of that disposition. We must desire the light over the darkness. As John writes, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)” If we choose to walk in darkness, if we choose to try to refashion ourselves in the image of idols, God will let us do so.

However slight, we must begin with a disposition turned toward God, which necessarily means a disposition turned toward love. We might not even be able to want to love our enemies. But perhaps we can want to want to love them. Failing that, if we can even want to want to want to love them, it’s a place to start. (I believe I heard that once from Fr. Thomas Hopko.) We have to have a disposition that desire good and desires God, however faint that desire might initially be.

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