February 22nd, 2006

HTOC

"Christ-Centered", what does this mean?

I’m beginning to understand that the foundation of all Orthodox belief is the person of Christ: it is incarnational. Salvation, the Eucharist, the Church – every aspect of what it means to be a Christian is grounded in the person of the God-Man. Now all of this has been said by other men and women more intelligent and intelligible than myself, but allow me a sentence or two nonetheless.
The Church is the mystical Body of Christ. Christ’s Body was physical, it was visible and it could be touched. Thus, the Church, as His body, must be one and visible. As Saint Paul cried rhetorically, “Can Christ be divided?” The Church as the Body of Christ is the visible united perfectly with the invisible. It is a human-divine unity. It is an icon of what man is created to be.
Likewise, Christ’s words about the bread and wine of Holy Communion being His body and blood are, well…believed! One may ask: How can this be His body and blood, it is clearly bread and wine. To that question, I ask another: How can Christ be God? Was he not clearly a man? Just as Christ was both man and God, the Eucharist is both bread and body; both wine and blood.
And salvation can’t help but be incarnational. Often times the salvific aspect of our faith is tied only to the work of Christ on the cross. Indeed His cross brought forgiveness and His resurrection assures ours, but what of union with God? Forgiveness in many ways is external; it involves one’s attitude towards another. But sanctification, holiness and transformation are internal. This type of internal change, this change of nature, can only be brought about when human nature touches divine nature, but due to man’s corruption, this is hopeless, even for the forgiven. The situation was changed eternally, however, when Christ took human nature once again to the heights of the divine. And “In Him” – to use a phrase of the Apostle Paul’s -we experience the same grace-filled restoration.