The Purpose of Man

Venerable Seraphim of Vyritsa

Venerable Seraphim of Vyritsa

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.  Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

GOD AND CREATION: THE PURPOSE OF MAN

Having raised man above all the earthly world, having given him reason and freedom, having adorned him with His own image, the Creator thus indicated to man his especially high purpose. God and the spiritual world lie before man's spiritual gaze; before his bodily gaze lies the material world.

  1. The first purpose of man is the glory of God. Man is called to remain faithful to his bond with God, to strive towards Him with his soul, to acknowledge Him as his Creator, to glorify Him, to rejoice in union with Him, to live in Him. He "filled them with knowledge and understanding," says the most wise son of Sirach with regard to the gifts God has given to man; He "set His eye upon their heart to show them the majesty of His works. And they will praise His Holy Name; to proclaim the grandeur of His works" (Sirach 17:6-10). For if all of creation is called, according to its ability, to glorify the Creator (as is stated, for example, in Psalm 148), then of course man, as the very crown of creation, is all the more intended to be the conscious, rational, constant, and most perfect instrument of the glory of God on earth.
  2. For this purpose, man should be worthy of his Prototype. In other words, he is called to perfect himself, to guard his likeness to God, to restore and strengthen it; he is called to develop and perfect his moral powers by means of good deeds. This requires that a man take care for his own good, and his true good lies in blessedness in God. Therefore one must say that blessedness in God is the aim of man's existence.
  3. Man's immediate physical gaze is directed to the world. Man has been placed as the crown of earthly creation and the king of nature, as is shown in the first book of Genesis. In what way should this be manifested? Metropolitan Macarius speaks of it thus in his Orthodox Dogmatic Theology: "As the image of God, the son and inheritor in the house of the Heavenly Father, man has been place as a kind of intermediary between the Creator and the earthly creation: in particular he has been foreordained to be a prophet for it, proclaiming the will of God in the world in word and deed; he is to be its chief priest, in order to offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God on behalf of all those born of earth, thus bringing down upon earth the blessings of heaven; he is to be head and king, so that by concentrating the aims of all existing visible creatures in himself, he might through himself unite all things with God, and thus keep the whole chain of earthly creatures in a harmonious bond and order.

Thus was the first man created, capable of fulfilling his purpose and of doing so freely, voluntarily, joyfully, according to the attraction of his soul, and not by compulsion.

The idea of man's royal position on earth causes the Psalmist to praise the Creator ecstatically:

"O Lord our Lord, how wonderful is Thy Name in all the earth! For Thy magnificence is lifted high above the heavens...For I will behold the heavens, the works of thy finger, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast founded. What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that Thou visitest Him? Thou has made him a little lower than the Angels, with glory and honor hast Thou crowned him, and Thou hast set him over the works of Thy hands...O Lord, our Lord, how wonderful is Thy Name in all the earth!" (Psalm 8:1, 3-5, 8).

From the Majesty of the Creation to the Incomparable Majesty of the Creator

The Holy Apostle instructs: "The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen...even His eternal power and Godhead" (Romans 1:20). That is, the invisible things of God are seen through beholding the creation. In all epochs of human history, the best minds, reflecting deeply on the world, have paused with astonishment before the majesty, harmony, beauty, and rationality of the order of the world, and have been raised up from this to reverent thoughts of goodness, majesty and wisdom of the Creator. Saint Basil the Great, in his homilies on the six days (Hexaemeron), examines the first words of the book of Genesis--"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth"--and then calls on his hearers: "Let us glorify the Superb Artist Who created the world most wisely and skillfully; and from the beauty of that which is visible, let us understand Him Who surpasses all in beauty; from the majesty of these sensible and limited bodies let us make a conclusion regarding Him Who is endless, Who surpasses every majesty, and in the multitude of His power surpasses every understanding." And then, going to the second homily, as it were pausing in hopelessness at penetrating further into the depths of creation, he utters these words: "If the entrance of the holy is such, and the entry-way of the temple is so praiseworthy and majestic...then what is to be said of the Holy of Holies? And who is worthy to enter into the Holy Place? Who will stretch forth his gaze to that which is hidden?

The Providence of God: God's General Providence Over the World

My Father "worketh hitherto, and I work" (St. John 5:17). In these words of the Lord Jesus Christ is contained the truth of God's constant care and providing for the world. Although God "rested on the seventh day from all His works" (Genesis 2:2, 3), He did not abandon the world. God "giveth to all life, and breath, and all things...In Him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:25, 28). The power of God keeps the world in existence and participates in all the activities of the created powers. The constancy of the so-called "law of nature" is an activity of the living will of God; by themselves these "laws" would be powerless and ineffective.

The providence of God embraces everything in the world. God provides not only for the great and immense, but also for the small and apparently insignificant; not only over the heaven and the earth, Angels and men, but also over the smallest creatures, birds, grasses, flowers, trees. The whole of Sacred Scripture is filled with the thought of God's unwearying providential activity.

But God's good will the universe stands, and the whole immense space of the world. God fills the heavens and the earth (Jer. 23:24); "when Thou turnest away Thy face, everything is troubled" (Psalm 103:30).

By God's Providence the world of vegetation lives on the earth. God "covereth heaven with clouds, Who prepareth rain for the earth, Who maketh grass to grow on the mountains, and green herb for the service of man" (Psalm 146: 8-9). Nor does He leave without His care the lilies of the field, adorning them and other flowers with a beauty which astonishes us (St. Matthew 6:29).

The Providence of God extends to the whole of the animal kingdom: "The eyes of all look to Thee with hope and Thou givest them their food in due season. Thou openest Thy hand and fillest every living thing with Thy blessing" (Psalm 144:16-17). God cares even for the smallest bird: "One of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father" (St. Matthew 10:29).

But it is man who is the chief object of God's Fatherly Providence on earth. God knows the thoughts of each man (Psalm 138:2), his feelings (Psalm 7:9), even his sighs (Psalm 37:9). He provides what is needful even before He is asked (St. Matthew 6:32) and bends His ear to the supplication of those who ask (Psalm 85:1), fulfilling what is asked if only the request comes from sincere and living faith (St. Matthew 17:20) and is for the good of the one who asks and helps one's search for the kingdom of God (St. Matthew 6:33). God directs the steps of the man who does not know his own way (Prov. 20:24). He makes poor and enriches, He brings down and raises up, He causes wounds and Himself binds them up, He strikes and heals (Job 5:18). Loving the righteous, He spares sinners also: "Not unto the end will He be angered, neither unto eternity will He be wroth" (Psalm 102:8). He is longsuffering, in order by means of His goodness to lead sinners to repentance (Romans 2:4). This all-embracing, ceaseless activity of God in the world is expressed in the Symbol of Faith when we call God "Almighty." (Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Father Michael Pomazansky)

(To be continued on the Providence of God)

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Please note: Our personal attention, as Orthodox Christians, must always be with God. Everything that we believe in explained to us by our Holy Orthodox Christian Church. The more we know the greater our Commitment to Our Creator. The more we know the stronger our relationship with Him. The more we know and understand our Christian faith, the greater will be our comfort, hope, and trust in Christ.

The Orthodox Christian believer should never diminish or marginalize what has been revealed to us in the Holy Scripture, in the Holy Tradition, in the writings of the Holy Fathers and Mothers of the Church. The Orthodox Christian believer must not be satisfied with yiayialogy, i.e., what has been he/she has been taught by one's grandmother. We all inherit 'knowledge' which is never based on fact from our families but superstition and hearsay. It is now the time to read credible Orthodox Christian sources to truly learn what we believe in.

 

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George