Why do I pray?
Why do I fast?
Why do I go to church?
If I do not have a good reason for doing these things (as opposed to a bad reason, or no reason), sooner or later they will become empty, meaningless actions and eventually, my common sense will say to me, “What’s the point? Stop wasting your time!”
There are many bad reasons for doing good things, some of them obvious, some very subtle and difficult to detect. The obvious bad reasons for doing good things include pride, showing off, fear of punishment and dry habit without any love.
But one of the most subtle of tricks is confusion between reasons and busyness. It is not hard to get these two things mixed up. We can get so caught up and interested in the details of what we do that we actually forget why we are doing it – the details become the reason, and a bad reason at that.
An example: consider a deacon learning a complex ‘lahn’ (hymn) or a member of a choir learning hymns for an upcoming celebration. Immersed in the fine variations of the notes and tune, the challenge of getting it right becomes the goal, the reason for doing it. Performing the hymn becomes a goal in itself, even without the element of prayer or praising God. They have fallen into the trap of confusing the busyness of doing something with the reason for doing it!
It is not uncommon for us become engrossed in whether or not we have memorised the words of the prayer, or the beauty of a tune, or in the fine meaning of a Bible verse, only to find that the love has gone out of the exercise. It may be exciting, but spiritually, it is dead.
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying we shouldn’t memorise or enjoy our spiritual activities. What I am saying is that this enjoyment should never be more than a tool I use for enjoying God Himself. The moment I lose sight of God and instead enjoy only the tools that are supposed to lead me to Him, I become terribly and sadly confused. Imagine if Michelangelo had stopped painting the Sistine Chapel because he couldn’t take his eyes off his paintbrush! Or if Beethoven had become so interested in the paint on his piano that he forgot to write any music!
God is beautiful. Unimaginably beautiful. And, He loves me. Enough to create this beautiful world for me, and enough to die on the Cross for me. That should be reason enough for anyone. In a way, it’s really quite hard to understand why anyone should get confused …
2 Replies to “A Common Confusion”
Bless me, Abouna,
I was wondering, in the second letter to the Corinthians when St. Paul describes the motivation of Christians by writing, “The love of Christ compels us” (2 Cor. 5:14), did he mean Christ’s love or our love towards Christ? Your homily seems to exhort a mixture of both- a responsive love to Christ’s love, “because He first loved us”. I suppose they are so intertwined, but I was wondering about your take? And if it should make any difference?
Our lord did not ask too much from us as Christians , he asked to love God from all your heart and soul and to love thy neighbor as thyself …he did not ask to read those hours all the time in Aggbia etc. and on judgment day he will not judge you on these aspects ” truly the Agbbia , fasting , attending the church , confession , holy communion etc strengthen our faith and hope in order TO LOVE OUR GOD FROM ALL OUR HEARTS AND SOULS AND TO LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF ” but the bible says even the devil has faith on our lord Jesus Christ but the only difference between the devil and us are our DEEDS … the important thing is that on judgment day, what a day , in Mathew 25 our lord Jesus Christ will say to those on his right hand ” come you blessed of my father , inherit the kingdom prepared for from the foundation of the world “for i was hungry and you gave me food , i was thirsty and you gave me drink , i was a stranger and you took me on , i was naked and you clothed me , i was sick and you visited me , i was in prison and you visited me , then the righteous will answer him saying lord when did we see you hungry we fed you and so on ……. and you will go to eternal life … then he will say to those who are in his left ha”depart from me, you cursed ,into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels , for when i was hungry , you gave me NO FOOD ,when i was so…………….you will go to everlasting punishment …..give a thought pal and ask the holy spirit inside you to guide you to improve your deeds …do not wait for anybody to direct you in this just go and do an act of love regularly …it will build up by the time …trust me you will feel good , contented and real pure heart you will have ..little things with care and love will do , no need for big things God is so merciful even your good intention to do good things , our Lord will consider it for you …. mate go and act now before it is too late you never know …today God is merciful on us while we are in this materialistic life but when we depart from this body the divine judgment will be the only final say on judgment day ….praise the name of the lord all the time ,amen ….