“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (1.Kor. 16, 13) asks and encourages us the holy Apostle. The apostle Paul sends his appeal in a kind of alarming way as if there is to be a decisive battle, and therefore support and courage and steadiness are needed.
The holy apostle Paul encourages the Christians of his time. They were really to be faced with a great battle and suffering. And many of them, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of them, were killed in a terrible manner. “There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” (Heb. 11, 35-38)
The history of the early Christian church abounds in terrible and monstrous examples of torturing the Christians, and also with beautiful testimonies of firmness and their manly standing.
The early Christians were exposed to different sufferings, and they found strength and encouragement in these words of the Apostle.
How and how much are these words of support related to us, the Christians of this time?
The Holy Script would not be holy, and it would not be the word of God if it were not relevant forever and for everyone. And so nowadays, almost two thousand years after God revealed in the ears of the apostles what we need for our salvation, we find ourselves in the revealed word of God, as our predecessors, Christians, were finding themselves hundreds of years before us.
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong” (1.Kor. 16, 13), we understand that they are directed to us and that they are very useful to us to strengthen us and encourage us to be steady. Because we, the Christians of this time, also need support as all other Christians of previous times did.
We are not thrown to the furious lions in the arenas, or crucified and tortured in the terrible ways.We are put to other, shrewder and subtler trials. The devil has improved his methodology. It has been realized that the torture was the best nursery for faith. From each drop of martyr`s blood the lilies of new Christians, the martyrs, have sprouted. The Christians were the strongest when they were persecuted the most severely.
However, we are now put to trials, to testify our stability in faith in some new ways. If we turn around us just a bit, we can see that an unsparing battle, a war for each human soul is fought there all around us. Everything has united, arranged in evil, to attack directly the little real faith and real believers that remained.
The new world`s order – anti-god attempts of a sinful man to push entirely out the hand of God from the surface of the Earth – does not choose the means and manners, not even alliances.
This is on a wider, global plan, in their global village.
And on a more narrow plan, to each one of us individually. What is going on here? Sober up and see: everything the same, and more cruel and perfidious. Everything is directed to pull out and crush our faith. On every side, wide open door to all oddities, all dams and fences broken down. Everything is a miracle, except God`s miracle. Everything that is morbid, pathological, and sick gets all the publicity. A common man cannot be seen anymore, nor is he interesting to anyone because of all these abnormalities.
At schools, they do not teach our children to moral things but to amoral ones. Through their popular press, through piles of paper and attractive pictures, they serve to our children some unreal world and the way of life they, luckily, will never be able to live. They are astonished when the children put masks on faces and guns in hands and go to steal and kill in order to take for themselves the things they have been shamelessly lured to.
Do you notice that you can hear different sectarians – and there are thousands of various kinds of them – speaking in all languages including our Serbian language. Using sweet phrases and trained smiles on television, they lure and invite into their flocks. They have money from somewhere, and get the terms on all TV canals. Let us Orthodox ones try to do the same, and see how far we shall go.
And after everything, all the temptations and all attacks on our faith, what could be more advisable and more suitable for us than the apostle`s appeal and encouragement to be vigil, to stand firm in faith, and to be manly in order to last and to persist, for our own salvation.