Sermon by Fr Sergius Chernyak 

First take the plank out of your eye

October 14, 2020

Priest Sergius Chernyak

As I read the Acts and the Epistles of the Apostles, I appreciate how difficult it must be to bring people to the Christian faith.

I also hear about families in which one member is a Christian faithful engaged in regular prayer, even as the other members do not share his belief and do not appreciate his faith and his joy. To these people, this is a torment that may last years. Sometimes, he tries to talk to his loved ones about God and about faith, but their hearts will not open up. He wishes very much for their families to share his faith, to stand up for prayer with his and to read the works of the holy fathers.

The Scripture provides us with some explanations as to why people who heard the word of God and saw the churches do not see, though seeing, and do not hear or understand, though hearing (Matthew 13:13) - many centuries ago or today, and why their hearts remain numb and unresponsive.

If there is one thing that we can learn from these, it will be this: we should approach our ministry with a kind heart. We should start with a prayer and we should project great love; only in this way could we convey to the other person that we are not indifferent, that we are not just calling on him to join our crowd because we make good company. The message of love is totally different. We are not asking people to come along because we would like them to share our beliefs. We want them to save their immortal souls. There may not even be a need for preaching if one desires the salvation of another's soul as if it were your own. This approach will likely create a subtle connection between you and the other that will project your love for another. It is in the same manner that the Lord himself came to this world and conducted His ministry: everyone saw His love and realised His goodness. Some did not, and said that he might be possessed by the devil. These people's hearts had become so numb that they could not trust in the goodness or sanctity of another.

Of course, we need to start with ourselves. If we want to enlighten everyone around us and bring them to God, we should take a really close look at our own lives. Are we too lazy to pray and fast? How good are we at keeping ourselves from judging others and from entertaining sinful or evil thoughts in our minds? We may know the scriptures well, we may have read it a thousand times, and still not be living in accordance with it in full honesty. This is perhaps the question we should address first.

Are we standing before God with a clean conscience? Are we honest, pure and open before Him? If so, we are enlightened with God's grace and are thus immune to being dishonest or deceitful. First, take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye (Luke 6: 42).

Priest Sergius Chernyak

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