Who We Are To Become - Who We Can Be


Word Magazine  June
1999  Page 38
 

 

 

 

 

WHO
WE ARE TO BECOME

WHO
WE CAN BE

 

By
Archpriest Steven Rogers

 

 

 

There
are perhaps no two men more greatly revered yet so seemingly different than
Saints Peter and Paul.

 

Commemorated
by the Orthodox Church on June 29, Saints Peter and Paul, “the heads of the
Apostles” as described throughout the hymnody of the feast, are especially
loved by the Church of Antioch, where Peter served as its first bishop and Paul
set forth on his great missionary travels. Peter, who preached on the day of
Pentecost when 3,000 were converted to the faith, and Paul, the greatest
missionary the world has ever known and author of over half of the New
Testament, were two of the most powerful instruments ever raised up by God to
spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to found This holy Church. Their preaching
and the power of God within them literally transformed the world. Both lived
completely for Christ and both died a martyr’s death in Rome by order of the
evil Roman emperor Nero.

 

Their
power and end were the same, and yet when we first meet them in scripture, they
are so seemingly different. There is Peter, the fisherman, simple and
uneducated. There is Paul (then Saul), the Pharisee, brilliant and educated,
learned in Jewish, Greek and Roman thought. There is Peter, emotional and
impulsive, often speaking and acting hastily but always remorseful. There is
Paul, seemingly cold and calculating, a powerful and even ruthless intellect,
able to persecute and kill without remorse.

 

No two
men could be more different than Peter and Paul — one driven by fire and
emotion, the other by coldness and intellect.

 

Yes,
these men were vastly different. But they had one thing in common — one thing
that transcended their differences and made them one. That one thing was a
personal encounter with the Son of God.

 

Peter
encountered Christ and was raised up from his humble beginnings to a man of
power. Paul encountered Christ and was lowered from his lofty position to a man
of godly humility. Both gave up what they were, to become what God desired them
to be. And through them the whole world was changed.

 

Oftentimes,
we look at ourselves with our limitations and inadequacies and feel we have
nothing to offer to God. We shy away from serving His Church because we feel we
have no skills or gifts to offer. We see others with all their gifts, and we
back away thinking there is nothing within us that God can use.

 

Often
times, in our pride and arrogance, we feel we are above many of the simple tasks
and labors that are so much a part of the ongoing life of God’s Church.

 

Seen
together, Saints Peter and Paul teach us a great lesson — that no matter who
we are — no matter our backgrounds, our talents, our station in life — if we
offer who we are completely to God, He will make us who we are supposed to be.
If we offer ourselves completely to God — both our abilities and our
limitations — He can and will use us to the glory of His kingdom. If we offer
ourselves completely, whether we are a simple fisherman or a towering
intellectual, the world will see God within us.

 

God
created us who we are and He came into the world to make us all we can be. Peter
continued to be Peter and Paul continued to be Paul, but it was Christ
within them that made them into all that God desired them to be.

 

And so it
is with us. If we offer ourselves to God with all our strengths and
weaknesses, He will use us to the glory of his Kingdom. As we, the Church
of Antioch, gather together to celebrate the feast of our beloved Apostles Peter
and Paul, those “luminaries to those in darkness, two rays of the sun,” let
us commit ourselves to give all that we are to God as they did, so that like
them, we may radiate the love of God into a cold and unbelieving world.