Sincere and fervent faith is always one generation away from being extinguished in a community.
That's because we live in a world where it is easy to lead self centered lives and difficult to lead purposeful Christian lives.
As M. Scott Peck said in his famous Road Less Traveled: "Life is difficult."
This is precisely why I am increasingly convinced that the Orthodox shorthand of Cradle Orthodox and Convert Orthodox is counter productive. The very real truth is that we are all Converts and that's as it should be.
The Orthodox Church teaches us that, like the Israel of the Old Covenant, we Christians are the spiritual Israel of God, and that means our calling, our destiny, is to be a kingdom of priests so the whole world will be blessed. This divine calling and identity is not meant to make us feel proud or somehow superior to others, but to call us to a deeper sense of mission and responsibility to our world. Like Israel of old, we are to be an example to the whole world to show them what a "new community" led and nurtured by God's grace and mercy looks like.
But, like Israel of old, we too are tempted to forget that this special calling is not some kind of guarantee to us regardless of our behavior or our fidelity to God Himself. Like Israel, if we forget our primary mission, our reason for existence, we will be replaced. St. Paul warned the Romans that "If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you." (Romans 11:17, 18).
We Orthodox must continue to challenge each other to a life of faithfulness. We cannot allow any of our brethren to foolishly believe that a simple accident of birth or some ethnic connection makes us truly Orthodox faithful.
No, we each must continuously make the blessings of our baptism real in our lives today. We cannot "inherit" faithfulness. We can only inherit the great benefit of a spiritual "head start." But that very blessing should make us all the more committed to share this blessing with those not fortunate enough to have an Orthodox beginning.
So, God doesn't have any grandchildren. Our faith demands fidelity from generation to generation, and then to extend that blessing of being a Kingdom of priests to the whole world. So, in the end, we are truly all Converts every day our lives.
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