“See How They Love One Another!”

Each day this week, we will publish a different response to the question posed to Russian priests: How should we preach Christ in modern society? Enjoy!

by Archpriest Fyodor Borodin:

We usually don’t pay special attention to the very important missionary words spoken by Christ to His disciples during the Last Supper: 

That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me (Jn. 17:21).

That is, we only can tell the world that God sent Jesus Christ to mankind—the most important thing in our faith—by demonstrating our Christian unity.

So, in my view, today our main missionary task is to ensure that every parish becomes a close-knit community of people, united in love. So that pagans, as it was in ancient times, could point at us Christians and say:

“See how they love one another!”

We have no other path. True, we could just tell them about Christ, but we must show Him in practice: “Come to our parish and see us for yourself.”

We forget that sincerity is one of the key arguments in missionary talks or communications. It is when those to whom our preaching is directed see that we are not insincere or haughty, that what we say matches what we believe in and live by. Sincerity is a powerful missionary instrument—although we are afraid to use it because sincerity makes us open. By deciding to be sincere we choose to be vulnerable. We can be humiliated and ridiculed. We reveal ourselves more about than is accepted between people who don’t know one another.

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But, nevertheless, it is one of the main instruments of a missionary. The same can be said about prayer. A missionary should pray for those to whom he preaches. He is supposed to pray this way:

“Lord, give me the words to touch the mind and heart of this person.”

And also:

“Lord, guard me against vainglory.”

For once a missionary has allowed vanity to enter his heart, his endeavors turn out to be fruitless.

About Fr. John A. Peck

Director of the Preachers Institute, priest in the Orthodox Church in America, award-winning graphic designer and media consultant, and non-profit administrator.
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