, , ,

Yesterday, I defended my own statement that Orthodox Christians take the Kingdom of Heaven wherever they go. This reality, however, is not experienced in its fullness. Rather, it is an on going process. Though we are made with the capability to become like God, we are still creatures. As St. Ambrose states in the eighth chapter of the first book of his treatise On the Holy Spirit:

Of what creature has God so spoken as to say: ‘I will pour out of My Spirit’? (Joel 2:28). He said not Spirit, but ‘of My Spirit,’ for we are not able to receive the fulness of the Holy Spirit, but we receive as much as our Master divides to us of His own according to His will (Phil. 2:6).

When each of of is baptized and chrismated, we are children. And just as a parent does not let a child drive a car or use a knife or other dangerous tool beyond their ability, so, too, Our Father gives us only that of which we are capable.

Note what St. Ambrose, a bishop writes about his own capability:

For as the Son of God thought it not robbery that He should be equal to God, but emptied Himself, that we might be able to receive Him in our minds; but He emptied Himself not that He was void of His own fulness, but in order that He, Whose fulness I could not endure, might infuse Himself into me according to the measure of my capacity, in like manner also the Father says that He pours out of the Spirit upon all flesh; for He did not pour Him forth wholly, but that which He poured forth abounded for all.

And as children, we are able to grow and mature — gaining the ability to handle more and more responsibility. Thus, the more we work on our own journey towards Christ — the more we become like God — the more our capacity to receive the Holy Spirit.

In other words, though I may take the Kingdom of God where ever I go, my own ability to participate in that reality and my own ability to reveal that reality to and in others is limited by my own failings to choose Christ and an Orthodox Christian life.

May Christ, through the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit, give us all the strength to pick up our Cross and follow Him. Amen.