A priest posed this question during his sermon recently, “How shall I live?” I immediately thought to myself, “Wow, this is a really good question!”- and I decided to start a blog. How would I answer? Was I paying attention to how I was living, or simply going through the motions? Did I realize that my choices each day- how I spent my time, who I spent it with, what I ate, what I read or watched- might be indicative of what’s important to me?
I found myself thinking about what he asked for the rest of the day. What is my purpose? For whom or for what am I living my life? What do I value? His question really sparked a desire in me to consider how I was living each day.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of possible answers to the question, “How shall I live?” We all know some of the most common answers people might give- for God, for family, for sports, for friends, for entertainment, for power, for wealth, for material possessions, for others, for retirement, for pleasure, for __________.
My three-year old son loves trains. He builds a train track, reassembles it in different configurations, plays with the blue train then switches to the green one, makes train noises, and even just sits and stares at a small, wooden train as he slowly rolls it back and forth. He doesn’t stop to think about how he’s living his life. Not yet. He just likes trains. I have the capacity to think about how I spend my time though. You do too.
Consider it for a moment: How shall I live?
We all face moments in our lives when we wrestle with this question more earnestly, especially connected to faith, our belief in God, and our understanding of who Jesus Christ is and why it might matter. Frankly, it’s just a good question to think about.
In future blog posts, I’ll explore the question “How shall I live?” in a way that is relevant to our lives. I’ll address topics such as faith and God’s existence, the path that He lays out for us, forgiveness, repentance, our ego, feelings, thankfulness, and much more. My hope is that you and I will both learn something along the way that might help us better answer the question, “How shall I live?”
Dn. Marek Simon
Dn. Marek is the Executive Director of Orthodox Christian Fellowship. He is passionate about serving and mentoring young people, helping them explore their faith, and growing the ministry of OCF so that all college students have the opportunity to participate. Dn. Marek lives in the Nashville area with his wife and two children.
“Are you religious?” my friend asks me from across the table at a popular vegan diner in Berkeley. They saw me do the sign of the cross before my faux-chicken cutlet sandwich. I answer timidly, “I mean, yeah, I guess.” This isn’t the first time I have been asked this question and this isn’t the first time I didn’t know the proper response.
Quite honestly, I’m unaware of what “being religious” means in modern day society. I ask them to clarify. They say, “Well, you know, do you believe in God and stuff?” As I scramble to find the right answer to this question, I always feel a bit embarrassed, thinking: Oh I was caught! They must know I belong to a group of people who participate in the transubstantial act of communion every Sunday and probably think I’m super weird for doing it. Sometimes I even feel ashamed. Now that I have “admitted” that I am a Christian, what will they think of me?
Unfortunately, Christianity in the United States does not necessarily have the best reputation among the average American citizen, as extremism floats to the top of media coverage, and a stereotype or stigma is born. If I say that I’m “religious”, I could be immediately pigeon-holed into a certain kind of person, who believes a certain set of things and expresses those beliefs in a certain sort of way.
Why is it that people so easily lump all Christians into one type of extremist being, one that passes judgment on other groups of people that are not associated with its ideologies? As an Orthodox Christian, this troubles me. We are suppose to show that we are Christians by our love, yet people assume that’s the last thing that we do. Are we not called to demonstrate this love?
And “stuff”? Do I believe in “God and stuff“? If by “stuff” you mean I wear my cross around my neck and my komboskini around my wrist in an effort to stay centered on Christ, then yes I am “religious.” But do I pray ceaselessly like the monks on Mount Athos? Do I read my Bible every night? Am I able to attend OCF and Liturgy every week? No, I am not able to be as consistent as I want, but I do try. I think we all do, and that’s what matters.
The next time someone asks if I am religious, my answer will be “Yes, I try.” Because that is really what it comes down to; you make the conscious effort to believe in something that you know transcends fear, hate, and the evil that attempts to exist within Christianity itself. You love, and that is something we all are called to do.
Claire is a sophomore at UC Berkeley studying Theater and Performance Studies and English. She currently attends Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in San Francisco. Her favorite Saint is Saint Pelagia the actress and when not in church or the theater, she likes to spend her time exploring San Francisco, reading plays, and eating sushi.