St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church
872 N. 29th St. Boise, ID
an American parish of the Russian Orthodox Church
Second Chance

Today in the epistle, the Apostle tells us that God has given us a second chance.  He saw that we were lost in our sins, unable to disentangle ourselves from our “mistakes” and that the only way we would ever have to find Him and live with Him would be to start over from the beginning.  And so because of His great love for us, God made that possible; He gave us a fresh start.  As the Apostle says, “Even when we were dead in sins (God) hath quickened us” (that is brought us to life again).  The means by which He accomplished this “restart” this new life is our Lord Jesus Christ.  In other words, by becoming incarnate, God united Himself with humanity and in His Resurrection with Him we were raised from our death in sins and in His Ascension He “made us to sit in heavenly places”.  All this He gives us to us freely as a gift, not as “wages” which we have earned by our works, for we are “not (saved by) works, lest any man should boast.”  Nor is this given as some kind of duty or debt that God “owes” to us or anyone else.  This gift is given to us for the sole reason that God loves us.

God has loved us because “we are his workmanship”, that is He made us; He is our Creator.  He created us for a purpose – that purpose being ultimately that we should be united to Him, however, there is more to this purpose.  He created us “unto good works”.  He made us in order that we might do good works, just as He does.  When we do as He does then we are acting in perfect harmony with Him – we are living in union and communion with Him.

What all this tells us is that God made us originally that we might live in such a way that reflects Him; that we might act in perfect harmony with Him.  Our first parents started off well, but they made a mistake – they sinned.  Then, when given the chance to confess their sin and repent, they made another mistake – they tried to justify their sin.  Finally having piled error upon error, they were exiled from Paradise, from the presence of God.  No matter what they did after that point, they could never recover the place where they had mistepped – they couldn’t get back on track.  They had lost the ability to fulfill God’s purpose for them and they were caught in their sins. 

But God did not give up on His creatures.  He provided means for them – for us – to start over, to begin again, to get back on track.  We could never begin to find our way back, we could never begin to right the wrongs, to repair the damage.  There was no way that we, on our own, could ascend to God, even in order to offer repentance.  Therefore God reached down to us.  Since we could never reach up to join ourselves to Him, He condescended to join Himself to us.  We could never become one with Him and so He became one with us.  He became incarnate and dwelt among us and then took our flesh, our human nature which He had adopted, and raised it up to the heavenly places.  And in this way he raised us up, together with Himself, and made us to walk, together with Himself, in heavenly places.

But this is not the end, this is not all.  Just as He is the all-Good God so He enables us to act together with Him according to His goodness.  He has ordained that we should walk in His good works, participating with Him in them, doing them just as He does for our nature now is united to His all-Good nature.  We have been restored to our original path – to do good works just as He does good works.  It is not the works that save us or make us good, but rather it is the life that we share with Him that demands that we do good works, for they are the fruit of His Goodness in which we now share.  And if we do not do these good works, then we repeat the errors of our first parents and depart from His life, His nature and are no longer united with Him.

God has given us a chance to live the way He originally intended for us – sharing in His life, sharing in His nature, sharing in His works.  He has given us to participate with Him in all that He does.  However, He also respects us and loves us and does not force us in any way.  We must therefore choose to do as He does, we must choose to do good works, we must choose to be like Him.  God is, of course, aware of our weakness, aware of our immaturity, aware that we will occasionally (or maybe constantly) fall down and so He provides for us the same remedy that He offered our first parents – to confess our sins and to repent and thereby to be healed and restored to the path of salvation, once more to walk with Him, to share with Him, to participate with Him the life that He gives which is our purpose and destiny.

God has given to us a great gift – the gift of a “second chance”.  He has reached down to us when we were so lost in our sins that we were as good as dead. We had lost the life that He gave to us.  But He restored that life to us – rekindled us and quickened us by His incarnation.  He raised us up together with Himself; He makes us to sit in heavenly places together with Himself and all this is given to us as a free gift.  He wants us now to act according to the life that He has given us – His own life.  He created us to reflect His goodness and to do the good works that He does.  This now is our chance, our second chance, to follow Him, to live in harmony with His life and His nature that He shares with us and to participate in His goodness and in the good works that He does.  For this purpose, He raised us up and makes us to sit in heavenly places, basking eternally in the light and warmth of His presence.