Christ and Christians

Martyr Peter of Ancyra, who suffered under Decius

Beloved brothers and sisters,


It is truly right and proper
To praise the Supremely Divine Trinity,
The Unoriginate Father and Creator of all,
The Co-Unoriginate Logos [Word], begotten Eternally of the Father
before the ages and without change,
And the Holy Spirit, Who proceeds Eternally from the Father.

It is truly right and proper
To glorify You, O God the Logos;
The One before Whom the Cherubim stand
in awe with fear and trembling,
The One Whom the Powers of Heaven Glorify.
In fearful adoration, let us also praise and glorify
Christ, the Giver of Life,
Who rose from the tomb on the third day.

Let us all praise in a divine manner, and with fervent hymns
The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
The Thrice-Hypostatic Dominion,
the One Kingdom, the One Godhead. Amen.

by Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, Hierotheos

1. We are called Christians because we are joined to Christ.

2. Christ is both God and Man, that is to say He is the God-Man, the Theanthropos.

3. All Humanity Expected Him.

4. We see His Life and Teaching in the Holy Bible.

5. We experience Him within the Church through the Sacraments (Mysteries).

6. The Parable of the Prodigal Son.

All those who are baptized become members of the Church and are called Disciples of Christ, Christians. In Orthodoxy, we also add the title Orthodox to demonstrate the True Faith. Orthodox means, "correct opinion" or "right belief". Since there are Christians who have mistaken views about God, man and man's salvation, it was considered necessary to talk about Orthodox Christians.

The members of the Church are called Christians because they follow Christ in their lives. That is to say, they obey His Will, His Commandments and are united with Him through Mysteria (Sacraments), especially through the Sacrament of Divine Eucharist.

The word Christ comes from the Greek word for the anointing, and denotes the Anointed One, the person anointed by God. This is identified as the Messiah of the Old Testament. Thus, the word Christ shows that the human nature, which was taken on by the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, was anointed by His Divinity. This means that Christ is both God and Man. We can use the Greek compound word Theanthropos, which means God-Man. Thus, the name Christ denotes that God became man to save men (human beings) without losing His Divinity.

Men always longed for salvation and, for this reason, expected redemption and a savior. They had the memory of a blessed life, while at the same time experiencing the tragedy of life, with death, sicknesses, wars, hatred of other men and so on. This is why they expected a Redeemer. The whole of mankind hoped for a Redeemer God.

So, the God Who all human beings expected throughout all the ages was Christ. In His Person, God and man were united. He was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. His conception and birth are miraculous. The Son of God became son of man in order to save men. If we study His words and His work, we will appreciate that He is clearly superior to the leaders of all other religions. While they are men, He is the God-Man. He spoke about love, about purity of heart and of intentions. He overcame sin, the devil and death. He was raised from the dead. No other leader of a religion has risen again from the dead. Christ was Resurrected and so overcame death and the devil. This is why He is the unique God-Man.

We are called Christians because we believe that He is the True God and because we keep His Commandments in our own personal life. We attempt to conform our lives to His own life.

Christ is not a perfect philosopher and a good lawgiver. He is not a moralizer and the leader of a religion, even the most perfect one. Rather, He is the champion over death, the devil and sin. He did not come simply to change the external conditions of man's life; He came to make man holy, to transfigure him, to deify him, to make him a son of God by grace. He is the Son of God by nature (natural child); we must become children of God by grace (adopted chidlren).

We witness the earthly life of Christ in the New Testament, especially in the four Gospels, which were written by His Disciples. There are only a few details about His birth and upbringing. Mainly three points are described. First, what Christ said. Second, what Christ did. Third, what Christ suffered for men. What Christ said can be seen in His words, His Parables, and His teaching. What Christ did can be seen in the miracles that He performed both out of compassion and love for men and to underline His lofty teachings. That is to say, He healed the blind man, blind from his birth, to reveal the truth that He is the Light of the world. What Christ suffered can be seen in the Passion He suffered for the salvation of the human race. Naturally, the sequel to His suffering is His Resurrection, which means that Christ, as God, resurrected the whole human nature, which died upon the Cross. We can clearly see, within these three points, the person, the work and the mission of Christ.

Certainly, we do not only read about this great work of Christ and His Divinity in the Holy Bible, we also experience it within the Church. Through the sacrament of Baptism, we become members of the Body of Christ and in our personal life we experience the Suffering Passion, the Cross, the Burial and the Resurrection of Christ. Thus, we experience all these events in our life. In Baptism, we die to the world and are buried. This is shown by the triple immersion in the font. Through Holy Communion, we receive the Body and Blood of Christ within us and with theosis (deification) we ascend together with Christ.

Accordingly, we are Christians, Disciples of Christ, because we are united with Him. Just like a school pupil has a teacher as a model for his life, we too have Christ as a model for life and conduct. Just as the artist has a model in mind, and this is what he wants to represent, we also have Christ as a model for our lives and we want to transfigure our life, making it life in Christ.

Saint John Chrysostom says that, within the Gospels, Christ is called the Way, because we go up to the Father through Him. He is called the Foundation Stone because He supports everything. He is called the Root, because we flourish because of Him. The Lamb, because He was sacrificed for us and He saved us. He is called Life, because while we are dead in sin, He revives us, He resurrects us. He is called Light because He delivered us from the darkness. He is called a Garment because we have put Him on in Baptism, even though we are naked. He is called a Banquet because we eat Him in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. He is called a Mansion because we live within Him. He is called a dweller because we are His temples.

All these names, most of which were revealed to us by Christ Himself through His teaching, show what Christ's work is, reason why He became man, and also what our relationship with Him is. He is not simply the leader of a religion. He is not a social reformer. Rather, He is our Light and our Life, our head and our sanctification, our Savior and Redeemer, our father and mother. This relationship with Christ is very real, vital and not abstract and intellectual. The fact that we are called Christians demonstrates this organic and essential relationship with Him.

What we should remember from this first Catechism is that Christ is both God and man, and for this reason, He is the True Savior of men. There is no other savior and redeemer. Christian life must be founded upon this rock of faith and this confession. All of us that live in the Church are called and actually are Christians. This is because we should be closely connected with Christ, be nourished by His Body and His blood and live out all the events of His life within our own personal lives.

With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George