O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only I desire to learn from you: Did ye receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now being brought to perfection in the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? If indeed it really is in vain. Therefore, the One Who supplieth the Spirit to you and energizes works of power among you, is it by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith?... For all are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male and female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to promise. (Gal. 3:1-5, 26-29).
From the beginning, God desired Adam to be obedient out of love thereby reciprocating the love of God and refracting that love into creation. To love God, to be a nexus by which the uncreated reality of the God, the light of God, is experienced and the love of creation is reciprocated to be a temple of God. A temple without a priest is dysfunctional, no matter how proudly it stands. Indeed, the peace of the temple is obscured and displaced, making it into a place of cacophony. Christ, by His two natures, is the restoration of the high priesthood of God's temple of creation (Heb 6:1-9:28).
To individually fulfil their roles in creation, doing the will of God, the sons and daughters of Adam must do more than put on Christ, through Baptism into His death and Resurrection, but put on the whole armor of God and engage in spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:11). One of the outstanding characteristics of the Gospels is that Christ is a person on a mission, a person of immediate activity and of doing the work that He sees His Father doing (Jn 5:19), though to the annoyance of the authorities, who fail to understand the prophecy that God's ways are not human ways (Isa. 55:8). The foundation of Pharisaical reasoning becomes supplanting the intention of God's law with human reasoning, resulting in hypocrisy.
Woe unto you, blind guides, who are saying, 'Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is bound!' Ye fools and blind: for which is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? And, 'Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is bound. Ye fools and blind: for which is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? Therefore the one who sweareth by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things that are upon it. And the one that sweareth by the temple, sweareth by it, and by the One Who dwelleth in it. And the one that sweareth by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by the One Who sitteth upon it. (Mat. 23:16-22)
However, to act contrary to sound human reasoning is foolishness indeed, and those who put on Christ, and live according to Christ dwelling in them, are fools indeed.
Do ye not know that ye are God's temple, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If anyone corrupt the temple of God, God shall bring this same one to corruption; for the temple of God is holy, which ye are. Let no one be deceiving himself. If any man among you think himself to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, in order that he might become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it hath been written, "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness"; and again, "The Lord knoweth the reasonings of the wise, that they are vain." Therefore, let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul, or Apollos, or Kephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things coming- all are yours. And ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's. (1 Cor. 3:16-23)
More than repentance for debts against grace and transgressions against the law of God through a renunciation of sin, entering into the Baptismal reality of His death and Resurrection is to combat the price of the world through foolishness in God for the sake of reciprocating the love of Christ, transforming human culture.
The single-minded focus acquired through the practice of Christian philosophy in monasticism, the life of a single-person dedicated to God at the monastic tonsure, is made profoundly practical through the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, each seeking to foster the overcoming of self-will and self-attentiveness.
- Poverty for the seeking of wealth in God.
- Chastity for seeking fertility in unity with God
- Obedience in seeking discernment of the will of God
Of course, the fitness and means by which each Christian soul is to practice the foolishness in Christ and to do the will of God requires careful discernment and much prayer. In examining exactly how to make one's confession of Christ to God and to the World, of revealing one's sins and the of work to healing the sins of the world through the love and mercy of God, the person must choose to live accurately. The grace required in making such decisions and choices is supplied through the charisma of spiritual father, located in either the abbot or spiritual elder.
The history of Orthodox monasticism is filled with profound spiritual elders down to modern times, who have attracted a wide following not only among their monastic brethren, but also non-monastics who made pilgrimages for spiritual guidance; notable among these are the Optina elders as well as contemporary elders, Elder Cleopa of Romania, St. Paisios of Mt. Athos. In contemporary times, the spiritual fatherhood has also been found outside of the strictly monastic context, for example in the miracle and missionary works of St. John of Kronstad, St. Nikolai Velimirovich, and St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco. The study of all of these great modern saints will prove very edifying and useful in seeking to discern that spiritual peace that passes all understanding, whether to practice Christian philosophy in a monastic community or through living honorable and righteously in the world.