No Day at the Beach

Source: No Cheap Grace

Having grown up in the Evangelical Christian Church, Brigid Gavin’s experience with grace was akin to throwing a towel down on the sand and relaxing with a cool drink.  The ECC taught her that receiving grace was as easy as a simple “I’m sorry” and it was all that was necessary for salvation. After much assurance from church leaders that one prayer was all she needed to be saved, she went into vacation mode with regards to her spiritual growth. But after struggling for over thirty years with questions such as why other Christians went to confession, why parts of the Bible were overlooked and why others failed to see how easy grace and salvation were, she began to realize that there was more to it than what she had been taught.

Fortunately, her desire to be saved was strong enough to offset her prideful and self-seeking ways. Having accepted Jesus into her heart was a good beginning, but it was far from being the end. She would go on to search for the true teachings about grace and salvation for over 40 years. Through personal experience and by way of learning about Church History, Brigid’s transformation into an Orthodox Christian began.

Prior to becoming Orthodox, Brigid was a Roman Catholic. This was her first step to learning the truth about grace and salvation and that a simple prayer wasn’t nearly enough. After the death of her husband, Brigid’s eyes began to open by way of her grief. She met an Orthodox woman who was both strong and wise in her faith. “In her I saw less emotional fluff, turmoil and flip flops. In her I saw the reality of life and death, and the answers I had been seeking all my life.” While the woman did not evangelize, per se, she did teach Brigid about the spiritual world as seen through the eyes of Orthodoxy. Through her behaviors and actions, she served as an example to Brigid of how to draw closer to God. Brigid craved the knowledge that this woman possessed in such great abundance.

Having spoken with a local priest who taught her about the great Schism and Apostolic Succession, Brigid learned the rich and unchanging history of Orthodoxy going all the way back to the Apostles themselves. Her experience in the Roman Catholic Church was the introduction; the Orthodox Church told her the full story. Salvation could not be acquired by simple prayers and apologies. It could not be secured by weekly attendance at Catechism classes and Mass services. Salvation is an ongoing, daily process that every Christian must strive for by way of meaningful experiences while enduring the hardships of life. As with any transformative process, discipline and obedience must be at the forefront of the Christian life. No lounging on the sand in the Orthodox faith!

Unlike her cradle church, Orthodoxy does not feed off the energy of its people by way of musical performances and such, but rather, Orthodox Christians feed off the spiritual food they obtain from the church not just on Sundays, but every day. They go to church hungry in their minds, hearts and souls, not just their stomachs and all are filled in full measure. Food for the stomach is easily  btained by way of fellowship; food for the mind, heart and soul is obtained by way of the daily practice of  riving for grace and salvation. And as Brigid discovered, in the Orthodox Church obtaining grace and salvation is not a day at the beach. It is a lifelong process.