"Everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children or lands for My Name's sake, shall receive a hundred fold and shall inherit ever-lasting life. But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first."
This describes in microcosm the life that pleases God… These readings contain not only the encouragement and this incredible joy that we should feel about the grace of God; they also contain a blueprint, a path of how to live. Not only how to live, but also how not to live. The promise is there, that also contains, very, very clearly for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see, what happens when a man does not follow Christ…Our Lord said,
"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven."
This is a fundamental characteristic of righteousness, to confess the Lord Jesus Christ. And how do we confess Him? With our lips and with our actions; with our priorities and with our way of dealing with people; with what we say is important and what we show is important. There are some obvious things that you could have come to mind. We confess the Lord by showing that we care about Christianity, that we live our life in a moral way. The entire world has gone off unto Sodom and Gomorrah, but we cannot do this. We must have the courage to stand against it, to stand against every form of immorality and vice. This is the confession of Christ.
Now there is a new form of Christianity in name only. It's been around now for quite a good many years. In fact, you really can see the beginnings of it in Apostolic times. But certainly, in the past few hundred years of the post enlightenment age, it has been codified that this is an acceptable way of life.
This way of life confesses Christ with the lips, but not with action, not with morality, not with the way we live, not with the way we order our lives. The new Christianity, from which the Orthodox are not immune, has a sort of dichotomy between belief and action. But there is no such thing. This is the great lie. Faith without works is dead. There is no dichotomy between action and belief. And if you do not live according to what you say you believe, then you are not confessing Christ. And we've been given everything we need to confess Him. We've been given the Holy Spirit, the comforter, Who lives within us if indeed we make a place for Him, if indeed we clean out our soul, and garnish it and sweep it out with effort and desire. And He will help us in all things. But if we do not live righteously we are not confessing Christ.
Now there are other practical things. In our modern society we are constantly in social situations. Are you afraid to make the sign of the cross before you have your dinner in a restaurant? If this is the case, you should weep and lament and pound your breast and ask God's forgiveness for this, and do it the next time. Are you afraid among your friends or among your business associates or whomever else you come across in your daily walk of life to show your priorities and the Christian way of thinking, or do you change your priorities based upon the vicissitudes of your life, maybe so you are not in trouble, or so nobody thinks badly of you, or maybe just so that you are not inconvenienced? This is not confessing Christ, either. …
Today, brothers and sisters, the Sunday after Pentecost, the Sunday of All Saints, so it is appropriate that we would read a reading about what it is to be a saint. This Gospel is about the character of the saints. Of course there are many Gospels that describe holiness. This one is perhaps the best of all.
Now, the question that you should have for yourself is do you fit in the category of people that the Lord is describing, who are saints?
In order to be a saint, we must be holy "Saint" actually means "holy". In fact, we are commanded to be holy. If we don??™t become holy we have no part with Christ. Christ came to help us to become holy. He gave us the ability, but we must have the desire and the effort. We are not only called but also commanded to be holy. So to be a saint is to be holy. This is not the calling only of those holy ones we have on our walls, but it is the calling of every person….
In order to be a saint – "Holy" – we are commanded to become holy – we must have desire and effort, and God will help us. If we do not have this desire and effort, God will not help us, and He will have no part with us.
We must, as the Lord says. "Confess" Him. He says something great and terrible: Whosoever will confess me before me.
One must understand what it means to confess. To confess in the Lord is is to live as He taught us, to have the priorities He taught us to have. Confession involved living the tight way. You cannot confession the Lord and steal, or be an adulterer. We must confess with the lips also – stand for what is right as Christians. We live in an age where good is called bad, and bad good. Abominations are deemed healthy, and to even believe that abominations are bad is labeled as bigoted, or even mental illness.
Let's not talks about politics, or parties, or particular people – let's talk about the age we are in, and what we must do – who we must be – in order to confess Christ in this age.