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The Need for the Church.


The jungle cannot bring up Newtons or Einsteins, Apostles Pauls or reverend Seraphims. However gifted a man is, if even he is a genius, still he cannot comprehend everything on his own but needs family and society for his development. Even the most talented person won't become an excellent violinist when you give him a violin and music. Someone has to teach and pass experience to him. The visible progress of humankind, advancement of civilization takes place due to the experience previously gained. The preceding generations serve as a base for the intellectual growth of the following generations. When a state or empire collapses as a result of some disaster, the culture collapses with it. Efforts of many generations will be required afterwards in order to restore the knowledge and experience.

For development of mental abilities and harmonious overall progress a man needs teachers, schools and the very complex structure of human society. Man grows, improves and becomes useful as a member of community. Without it, man would be a savage, not adapted to life. In one word, man was created in such a way that he cannot live outside a community.

Ideally, family and community have to form not only the mental and applied abilities of a man, but build his spiritual self as well. That is how God designed it. The celestial, angelic world is the ideal community of goodness and truth, founded on the principles of divine love, where blameless beings live not for themselves but for the sake of each other, with a joyful praise of the Maker.

Sin intruded into the entire order of human life, perverted the spiritual nature of man, and social life as a whole. Community, which, by God's design, had to facilitate the correct spiritual development of humans, has lost the capability for this in practice. Without the spiritual checkpoints, community focused all its efforts on the development of outward advancement, material goods, this resulting in one-sidedness of its members, and sometimes in callousness, brutality and other things that we see daily in the surrounding world.

Therefore, for the sake of salvation of our souls, and for spiritual upbringing and development of man, God set up another community: Church. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God" (1 Peter 2:9:10).

The Church is a peculiar community, established and sanctified by God. The Church is different from any other human society or state in that she is the Kingdom of God on earth, and her goals are the moral renewal of humans and guidance towards salvation. Christ gave the Church everything necessary to fulfill this purpose, which can be put in just a pair of words: grace and truth. These are her spiritual treasures that she is called to keep, and to enrich the faithful with them. But even the greatest jewel won't do any good to a man unless he makes use of it. That is why it is necessary for everyone to enrich oneself from the Church's spiritual treasury: learn the truth that she keeps, receive the sanctification through her gifts of grace, absorb the spiritual experience of her righteous people.

A man has a body and a soul, and similarly the Church has a visible and invisible part. Her invisible part is the action of Christ's grace, the spiritual improvement of the faithful, and her heavenly portion the Church Triumphant. Church is a celestial-terrestrial community, headed by Christ. This is why much in ecclesiastical life cannot be subject to study. The visible part of Church is her teaching, ecclesiastic hierarchy, ecumenical and local councils, temples, divine services, feasts and traditions, canon laws and chapters.

Many contemporary Christians do not understand what the Church exists for. They think that it is enough to read the Gospel and believe in Christ. But, for one, the Gospel did not fall from the heaven. Someone had to collect the books written by the Apostles, check them through and incorporate them in the body of the Bible. Someone had to take away from the Bible any false, heretical writings. The Church did it in her first three centuries. Two, one cannot learn from books alone. Even in the very precise and logical science of mathematics a student needs someone to explain what is not clear to him, check on his success, give him guidance for further learning. In the same way, man's spiritual education requires spiritual guides to explain what is not clear and warn him against false teachers and false prophets that have always been abundant.

Listening to the teaching of the Savior and His Apostles, we can understand that, in accordance with the Divine plan, people are not called for salvation haphazardly and in loneliness; oppositely, they can be saved in their togetherness, as members of one big family. The faithful are not only called to utilize whatever the Church gives, but also to assist one another's salvation. Sin and selfishness are sources of disintegration, while charity and kindness initiate integration.

No man can reach perfection in a blink of the eye. Christian life is a process of self-improvement. It is therefore natural that the Church consists of people on different stages of spiritual development. Those who have reached a greater degree of perfection, should help their weaker fellows. The Lord Himself established the order that some teach and others are taught.

In the Church a Christian learns the truth and receives sanctification by the grace of the Holy Ghost. In the Holy Sacrament of Eucharist, he comes into real communion with Christ, Son of God Incarnate, and through Him becomes a partaker of Divine nature. In this mysterious communion with God man receives mighty spiritual powers, which help him to grow and improve spiritually. Moral perfection is the goal of our life: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).

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