What Should We as Orthodox Christians Do to Act on Christ's Will Concerning Fragmentation of His Flock?
By Petros Presbeftes

Many today believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, profess
and truly believe themselves to be a member of the Mystical Body of
Christ. And, Truly, we cannot as Orthodox Christians deny or accuse our
brethren who are not a visible member of the Orthodox Church as being an
outcast, or being outside of the Mystical Body of Christ. Only Jesus
Christ, our Lord can be the Judge of each of us. So, therefore, the
question of a believer and his standing, as tempting as it is for us who
are Orthodox to answer, SHOULD NOT BE ATTEMPTED. As a matter of fact,
it is unwise to judge others, as we do not hold the Total
All-Encompassing Wisdom of Christ, and therefore, we will be judged for
our judgments.

So, what do we set out to accomplish in our quest to bring those outside
of the visible or invisible Orthodox Church to the Mystical Body of
Christ? We bring them lovingly into our community, and we pray for the
Power of Christ to scoop these persons lovingly into His arms, and to
put the appetite of the community into each of these persons' hearts.
Because, as we who are Orthodox Christians ought to act, so might our
Brethren from other denominations. For if we are judged by them, then
they are also in the same danger of being judged as well. For
Centuries, since 1054 AD, there have been judgments passed back and
forth in every which way. Everyone pointing the finger at everyone
else, and meating out 'justice' to everyone else. Where did this get
us? Where did this put us? Well, it is this author's humble opinion
that this only kept us from getting together in unity, and it promoted
hatred, and lusts for power over others. Some judge because of hatred.
Some judge questing after power. Some judge for both reasons. Some
judge because of a belief that they 'know' the 'absolute' truth, and
they go on to carry the 'truth' on their shoulders for the rest of the
world, whether wanted or not, whether asked for or not, whether accepted
or not. It takes time for many of us to learn the truth, and it has to
be recognized that it takes one to be Like God in ALL ASPECTS, to know
the absolute truth. No one, except Jesus Christ, ever achieved Likeness
to God.

Judgment by any of us is an act which is abhorent in the face of God.
For, by judging, we say to God: 'I don't need your help. I know
everything I need to know, to do your will. I know your Commandments
perfectly. I do Your Commandments Perfectly.' In so doing, the act of
judgment, builds a thick wall of resentment and brings us many times to
commissions of trespasses against our brethren. Love your neighbor as
yourself. But, first, let Love be in your own heart. For Love without
Self-Love in Christ Jesus is Dead. If we were to go to our brethren
said to be estranged from Orthodoxy, and count the number of ways in
which we agree, we would be astonished to learn how much common ground
we share together. Only by sharing with our commonality, can we hope to
fill in the gaps of lost teaching that our brethren know nothing about.

We as Orthodox Christians are sent by God to be healers and bearers of
the Incarnate Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, and are with the help
of our Lord, to have Him residing in our hearts, each one of us. With
great alarm, I see 'legalism', or 'conformism' knocking at the gates of
the Orthodox Church. This is one of the most stifling forms of judgment
that one can think of, and classically was not part of the Early Church,
but instead crept in after the Schism of 1054 AD. The Orthodox Church
has always taught its Faithful that the way to Christ was through
experience of His Power and Glory, through the Mysteries, through
prayer, fasting, and doing His will in humbleness, appearing before His
Face in a spirit of Communion and Love.

Whereas 'legalism' or 'conformism' is indeed a method of mortal man
wielding power over others, and a push for conformity to one mortal
man's way. The beauty of Christ, however, is that there are so many
ways to experience His Power and Glory and Presence. Each of us has our
own personal way of communicating and worshipping our Lord. And this is
pleasing to God, for our uniqueness of method shows to Jesus our
devotion to him is real and from the heart.

The question of 'legalism' or 'conformism' as discussed above is not to
mean to us that the Orthodox Church is a Church without rules. But in
the Orthodox Church, a rule is a tool to help us come closer to Theosis
(likeness to God). So, we can make use of a rich arsenal of tools from
the toolchest, and with God's help, we may craft a new tool which then
becomes a part of the toolchest for others to grow with in its use.

Let us then, not judge our brethren who are not Orthodox or who are
perceived by us to be outside of our Orthodox Faith, but instead let us
be loving teachers and learners as we bring our world closer to the
Unity that God Wills. Let us share the beauty of our Orthodox heritage
with all whom we meet, and come into contact with; not in a spirit of
judgment, but in a spirit of love.

For the Wisdom of Christ our Lord, and the Peace and Communion of the
Holy Spirit, and the Love of God the Father, being with all, let us
entreat the Lord. Let us say, 'Grant this, O Lord.' Amen.