Orthodoxy of the Heart

Orthodox means right belief (or right opinion). And it's certainly a useful way of categorizing doctrine or the teachings of various groups. But when I've applied the label to myself, I think I've often forgotten what it truly means to be orthodox (FYI - I'm not referring to the Orthodox Church here, just the act of being orthodox). I've seen it in a lot of others who call themselves orthodox, too.

Sometimes we act like being orthodox means making sure - with radical zealotry - that everyone else is following the rules. Meanwhile, we embrace the same with a minimalism more akin to a child eating their broccoli. It's one thing to profess a belief. It's another to actually believe it to the point that we truly live it.

We forget that being a true Christian is not about having the right opinions about things, it's about having the right heart about things - which is a very different thing. Having the right opinions will not save you. What we need is an Orthodoxy of the Heart.

St. Tikhon (Orthodox Church) said:

"If someone should say that true faith is the correct holding and confession of correct dogmas, he would be telling the truth, for a believer absolutely needs the Orthodox holding and confession of dogmas. But this knowledge and confession by itself does not make a man a faithful and true Christian. The keeping and confession of Orthodox dogmas is always to be found in true faith in Christ, but the true faith of Christ is not always to be found in the confession of Orthodoxy[...]. The knowledge of correct dogmas is in the mind, and it is often fruitless, arrogant, and proud[...]. The true faith in Christ is in the heart, and it is fruitful, humble, patient, loving, merciful, compassionate, hungering and thirsting for righteousness; it withdraws from worldly lusts and clings to God alone, strives and seeks always for what is heavenly and eternal, struggles against every sin, and constantly seeks and begs help from God for this."

An "orthodox" life is not the mental challenge of staying between the lines, but an exercise in wildly overflowing the boundaries of the heart. Jesus' love is not measured and controlled. It is total and wild. That is what "Orthodoxy" should look like.

Don't get me wrong. All the rules and doctrine are essential. In fact, following them is the secret to being set free to love madly without worry of going astray. But they are just the beginning. Being truly orthodox is completed in the heart.

Think of somebody you really don't like. Maybe it's a friend, family member, co-worker, politician or complete stranger. Or think of any kind of enemy in this world. You may encounter them online or off. You may engage them directly or indirectly. Picture their face.

Got them in your head?

Now ask yourself this: Are you madly in love with this person? (Christ is)

Because when we encounter such people, if we have not first fallen madly in love with them, how orthodox are we really?