With his body the Christian is in the world while with his spirit he is outside it

 Christian life is not an utopia as many believe. It is not an unreachable thing and living according to the Gospel is not impossible. Christian life is not an utopia for any age or time, neither for the time when the Gospel was written, nor for the 21st century. And if we suppose that we will reach the 25th century or the 30th century even in those times Christianity will be actual and possible only if someone wishes to live according to the Gospel with his whole rigor.

Many times we say `Yes, I want, but I can`t`, but in reality what we mean is `I don`t want`. Behind `I can`t` it`s hidden `I don`t want` even if our lips say `I want`.

It`s what saint Augustine said – to make you a psychological anatomy. And you`ll see it clear. When blessed Augustine came back to Christ from his worldly way of life and from his pleasures as he reveals himself in his Confessions, he prayed God to take care of his salvation. He prayed Him ardently but in the bottom of his heart he wanted Him to delay that a bit, because he still loved his pleasures. [1] This is the way we are too. We want to save our souls but we still love pleasures. We say that `we can`t` but in the depths this is `I don`t want`. To want is the magical word, it is the key for every Christian to put spiritual life into practice in any time. And this being connected with the grace of God as we will see below, the miracle which is called Christian living is accomplished.

Thus as I said, the Christian lives in any époque in the middle of the world among the other people.

One thing is the social man and another one is the worldly one

 Because of a misunderstanding of the Corinthians when the Apostle told them that they should not participate at the worldly manifestations they thought they had to go in the mountains. Beware, monarchism is something else. But I don`t speak about it now. Monachism is something different, the social element is not missing from it, only the worldly element is missing. Here we must make a clear distinction between the social and the worldly element. Social element means `

`Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.`[2]. 

It means to go to a hospital and see the sick, to go to the house of the one who cries rather than to the house of feast [3]

This means social element. And if I go to games, to entertainments and any worldly party this means worldly element.

The social man if you want is not a worldly man. And if you want there is something worse, the worldly man is not social. The worldly man who goes to different worldly manifestations of life for delights, doesn`t go to places of grief, of pain of sickness, because he says that he has a sensitivity and his heart can`t take that. And if let`s say he will give some money for the poor he will give it for a so-called philanthropic dance in the circle. He will dance and give his money. But someone like this is not a social man, only cheats himself if he believes that he is one. He is only a worldly man.

With his body the Christian is in the world while with his spirit he is outside it.

Because of this misunderstanding of the Corinthians, saint Paul, the Apostle writes in his first Epistle :

`I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.`[4].

    Meaning that I wrote to you in the Epistle not to mingle with the debauchers and with the sinful men but I didn`t mean all the debauchers of the world. Because I will go to the butcher, to the grocer, to the baker. These men may cheat their women, they may be sinful, they may be thieves, robbers, worshipers of idols. This doesn`t interest me, I will go to the baker only to buy bread and to the greengrocer to buy vegetables. And if you are obliged not to mingle with these who are in the world  says saint Paul, the Apostle, then you will have to get out from the world and go in the mountains. I didn`t mean this, says the Apostle, I referred at the fact that if a certain brother has a fame of being immoral, greedy or anything else of this kind, you should not have any connection with one like him.  And he says this both for protecting the Christians not to dirty themselves, meaning not to be drawn to the same sins themselves and for giving them the example of that brother in order to make him come to his senses.

Thus I can live in the place where I was born even if that city is worshiping idols and is in apostasy, away from God. The three young men and Daniel how did they live in Babylon? And especially in the palace of Nabuchadnezzar? Wonderfully. How did Tobit live with his family in the sinful Niniveh? And many others. I refer only at the names known in the Holy Scripture. Esther this queen from Judea who had as husband the king of Persia who had made his house a harem how did she live? She kept the faith of her parents. In her honor there is a book in the Old Testament which has her name.

[1] Blessed Augustine, Confessions, Book VIII, Cap. VII, 17: `I asked from You purity and prayed: God, give me purity and restraint but not immediately! Cause I was afraid that You would answer my prayer on the spot and You would heal me too soon of the disease of lust which I  wished to satisfy rather than to quench it.`

[2] Romans 12, 15; according to Psalm 34, 13-14; The Wisdom of  Sirach 7, 32-36; I Corinthians 12, 12-30; I John 1, 3-7.

[3] Ecclesiastes 7, 2-4.

[4] I Corinthians 5, 9-11.

Excerpt from the book THE CHRISTIANS IN THE WORLD hieromonk Athanasios Mitilineos

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