Grace, Love, Communion!

​A wonderful and profound perspective from Orthodox Eastern Christianity! 

***

We are called upon to love all, not just family and friends. Christ repeatedly charges us to love our enemies. Pretty strong stuff, but “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Grace, Love, Communion.
This image and likeness calls us to be in communion with His creation around us. We must love and respect our neighbor. We should not isolate ourselves from those around us. Harboring anger and animosity break our communion with our fellow man. Gossiping and spreading untruths are not acts of communion. Just as there are no divisions within the Trinity, there should be no divisions amongst us, who share His image and likeness. When someone offends us, we must work to forgive, as he or she is as much a child of God as we. 
Communion with His creation calls us to be stewards of the world that He created – all of that world. We cannot turn our backs on that and claim to bear His image and likeness. We cannot savage this Earth and claim to be, at the same time, in communion with it. We cannot endanger His wildlife and claim to be in communion with them. Grace, Love, Communion. 
God granted us free will. It is our choice as to how we live our lives. We can simply settle for just our very imperfect physical sharing of His image and likeness, or we can strive to take on the image and likeness of His Grace, Love and Communion as well. This cannot be done solely through worship, prayer, fasting and almsgiving. To take on this divine image and likeness, we must love in person, and in a personal way, seeing God in the face of everyone we encounter. We must exhibit the Grace of God, with which we have been blessed, to all of those around us, not just our Orthodox brothers and sisters. And we must be in communion with God, our neighbor and all of His creation, gracefully loving all as we love ourselves. This is the very heart of the Orthodox concept of theosis – becoming more and more like God. Grace, Love, Communion.
It takes a bit of work to exhibit the real and full “image and likeness of God”. But He has given us everything we need to meet the task, especially the living example of Christ. All we need to do is decide to do it and then apply ourselves to the task. But perfecting that “image and likeness of God” within ourselves is truly a worthwhile endeavor! And those around us, as well as all of creation, will be blessed by the love and actions of the better Christians we have become. They will share in our Grace, Love and Communion.
http://www.antiochian.org/image-and-likeness

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