The Church’s purpose is to unite all men as one nation in Christ
By Abbot Tryphon, January 16, 2020
When the Bolsheviks defeated Imperial Russia, the former government’s close ties with the Church led to the wholesale murder of countless bishops, priests, monastics, and faithful, all seen as an inseparable part of the government. The institution of the Church was seen as so closely tied to the former government, the new government sought to completely destroy the Church.
That said, we must also remember that the Church was seen as the enemy by the communists. Part of the reason the Czar was so hated by the Bolsheviks, was that he was Defender of the Faith, and a devout Orthodox believer, so the leaders of the Communist Party were determined to destroy any possibility of the Imperial Government being restored.
Political movements devoid of the Christian Faith, as we’ve seen in England, Greece, and the Scandinavian countries, cause some believers to think we need to restore the institution of State Churches, but this can backfire. Those countries that kept their State Churches are almost all now anything but Christian nations.
It is times like these that we must reexamine the true image of just what the Church is, and embrace her as she was meant to be. When we behold the Church in the light of how the Church sees herself, we realize as Christians, our true nation is not the country of our birth, but the Church herself. We Orthodox Christians belong to Christ and His Church. Our true nation is therefore the Church.
Whether we are Americans, Russians, Greeks, or Norwegians, by birth, our second birth in baptism has made us members of the nation of Orthodoxy. I am an American by my first birth, but in baptism my nation is Orthodoxy, and I am of one nation with all Orthodox Christians throughout the world.
This unity of Faith is based on a personal relationship with Christ, Who is the head of His Church. Our true nationality is not based on political ideology, be it democratic, socialist, or monarchical, but on our common baptism that has united us to Christ, and to each other as the Body of Christ, the Church.
Saint Justin Popovitch wrote, “The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy — an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Spirit — to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata”.
With love in Christ,
~Adapted from Abbot Tryphon, The Morning Offering, https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/morningoffering/2020/01/the-church-is-our-nation/