IS IT POSSIBLE TO BECOME GOD WITHOUT GOD?
Archpriest Sergiy Baranov
Holy Trinity Cathedral. Iveron Monastery of Orsk
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!
What is the meaning of human life? Why did the Lord create such a beautiful, complicated and genius creature? What were we born for? What do we live for?
If eternal life is not part of peoples’ life meaning, then any meanings crush against the point of death. No matter how our meanings are great, wise, and genius, they will all crush against the point of death, turn into ashes and become nothing. The greatest meaning crushes against death and becomes ashes and dust. The wind blows and nothing remains. If there is no eternal life in one’s life reason, nothing makes sense. God created a human for eternity, not for an instant moment. Even a hundred years seems like a lot to us. Look back those of you who are in your eighties. Is it a lot? Like a wink! As if there was nothing. Young people stand here. One day you will look back and say, “It feels as if I haven’t lived yet.” What is the point of this instant in eternity if it does not pass into eternity? Absolutely no point at all. All meanings fall to pieces.
Someone says, “I live to give life to other people.” You give life to a creature who will face the same question, “What was I born for? Dying and becoming ashes?” If there is no eternal life, no meaning is actual. They become nonsense.
The Lord planned a human to live in perspective, to lead eternal life. This short period of time is just a prelude. But how should we inherit eternal life?
Some time ago, when the Lord was creating us, what did we represent? Clay. The Lord took it and transformed it into a doll. What did that doll need to walk, wink, and become alive? It needed God to breathe life into it. And it suddenly became alive. Take this life from it and it will fall to pieces again. Perish. Become nothing. This clay needs the breath of God.
Since their birth, humans bear this remnant understanding that they are created for eternity. While eternity is a prerogative of God, not a human. Only God can be eternal. Everything else is not. How should we inherit eternity? People, somewhere deep inside in their intuition, bear this eagerness to eternity, and somewhere in their intuition, they realize that only God can be eternal. Even in a person who does not know God, there is the notion: only God is eternal. And people reach out for the commandment which the Lord gave in the Gospel, “You are gods.”1 “I did not create you like animals but I wanted you to grow into gods.”
This urge for Divinity has always been present deep inside humans, since their creation. Satan tempted people through it. Did he tempted them through an apple? No, he said, “You eat… and you will be like God.”2 This striving for being god is imbued into humans by God Himself. Adam, without understanding the point of it, became tempted by this “you will be like God” and this is why he ate it, and Eve ate it too. Not because they were hungry or because they had never tasted apples. Look, what he tempts them by. By the thing that exists in their essence: “You will be like gods,” you will be immortal.
But Adam and Eve commit the main mistake at this moment. They do not realize that one cannot become god without God. A human becomes god only in a union with God, taking his nature, taking God inside of oneself. This is the only way to become god. No matter how he will train himself, jump, strain himself, he will never become god by himself.
Look, what mistakes people make. The Tower of Babel. Why do people build it? Again, somewhere in their intuition, there is this urge for becoming gods. And they build this tower up to the heavens. They, being naïve and mad people, having lost God, climb there into the sky, by themselves. And they fall down from this tower. Throughout centuries after the building of the Tower of Babel, people commit the same mistake: they want to become gods without God.
Do you remember the times of communism? How we wanted to become gods without God? Someone lays by the Kremlin wall and perishes, someone in a village cemetery. Nevertheless, everyone perishes in the same way. They fall to pieces because it is impossible to enter this essence of Divinity without Divinity. There is no way to become god without God. The main idea and the main meaning of our deification is not in self-perfection, but in reunion with God. Only this is how a person becomes perfect. You reunite with God and you become god in the lowercase. Not because you represent something but because God dwells there, inside of you. The Lord says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.”3 “And I am there too, if you did not chase Me out of it, if You invited Me, ‘O Heavenly King, come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity.’” You cleanse, not we cleanse ourselves, but You do.
The main mistake of all non-Orthodox religions, all philosophical schools, and all earthly ideas is perfection without God, outside of God. They all come to a dead end. Some go further, some stay closer, but they will surely hit their stubborn forehead against the wall and die and perish there. This resembles a small bug who crawls on a leaf. It reaches the final point of its existence, stands motionless, dries away, and falls into pieces. The wind blows and it vanishes as if it never existed and no one remembers it.
Our task is to enter eternity. Eternity is the realm of God, not a human. In order to enter eternity, one should become god with no capital letter. The last phrase I want to tell you is: “You cannot become gods without God!” Our Orthodox Christian faith tells us that God descended on earth to reunite with people. All other religions believe in God, in God Who is somewhere far away. Yes, He exists, He participates in our lives somehow, but He is so far away. Only the Christian religion believes in another way, it believes in deification, that God becomes flesh in order to make our flesh god.
Glory to our God, always, now, and unto the ages of ages!
1 Jn. 10:34
2 Gen. 3:5
3 Lk. 17:21