Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bought With A Price

From Nicolas Cabasilas The Life in Christ, bk. 7, s.13:

"The blessed Paul makes all things clear in a brief saying, 'You are not your own, you were bought with a price.' He who has been purchased does not regard himself but him who has purchased him, and lives according to His will. In the case of men, the slave is bound to the wish of his master, but only in body; in his mind and reason he is free and can use them as he pleases. But in the case of him whom Christ has bought it is impossible for him to be his own. Since no man has ever bought a complete man, and there is no price for which it is possible to purchase a human soul, so no one has ever set a man free or enslaved him save with respect to his body. The Saviour, however has bought the whole of man. While men merely spend money to buy a slave, He spent Himself. For our freedom He surrendered body and soul by causing the one to die and by the depriving the other of its own body. His body suffered pains by being wounded; His soul was troubled, and that not merely when the body was slain, but even before it was wounded as He said, 'My soul is very sorrowful even to death.'
"So in giving Himself completely, He purchased the whole man. Therefore He has purchased the will too, and it especially. In other respects He was our Master and had control over our whole nature; but it was by our will that we escaped from His service, and He did everything to capture it. Because of the fact that it was our will which He was seeking, He did no violence to it nor took it captive, but He bought it. Thus of those who have been bought, no one will do right by using his will for himself , but will commit an injustice to Him who has bought him by depriving Him of His possession. It is by the self-will and by rejoicing in that which is one's own that one would use one's will for oneself.
"So it remains that none of the virtuous and righteous loves himself, but only Him who has bought him. It must be that at least some, if not all, of those who have been purchased should be thus disposed. How could it be reasonable for such an awesome purchase to have been made in vain? For those who love only Him it follows that they should enjoy all pleasure unalloyed with trouble, since He whom they love does nothing contrary to their desires. They are moved with an exceedingly great and supernatural divine power of joy and this power finds complete fulfilment, and that which delights them surpasses every abundance of grace."

Cabasilas has been my breakfast reading for the past few months (I don't eat breakfast regularly) and has been an interesting read. Essentially The Life in Christ is about the power of the sacraments in the believers' life. As a 14th century Orthodox Greek, Cabasilas has a much different view of sacraments and how they work than we do. Nevertheless, there have been times when I've found some of his ideas showing up as part of my own worship, especially during communion. The idea that in communion God is joining me together with the rest of the worshipping body has been a powerful one. As we share the one bread, we become one body. The last book (chapter) focuses on the joy and perfection of a man who is shaped by the Spirit's power through the sacraments. The whole is more perfectionist and works oriented than I am but it has been interesting and encouraging. Especially when I read the quoted passage above and then heard a message on 1 Cor. 6:12-20 the next morning. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who sends His Spirit that ruined sinners might become His temples.

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