By: The Reverend Mother Barbara Martzall
Frequently we hear how we as Christians are striving for deification/theosis. Just what is meant by this?
As we have read in the Book of Genesis, we were all made in the image of God. That means that within each of us resides the image of God. The goodness of God is a part of us and thus we are really perfectly made. But then as nature goes, we as humans have gotten into a way of life forgetting this very basic teaching. At one time or another, we have gotten into our heads that we should be judgmental and critical of all that goes on around us instead of looking for God, who resides in each and every human being.
So just how do we go about finding our deification/theosis? The start is to admit that you are judgmental/critical of others. Take a big inventory of yourself and see if you are living your life as taught by the Ten Commandments and by the Great Commandment. Be very honest with yourself in this inventory. You will find, I am sure, areas in which you are being judgmental/critical. Once you have found those areas, you must then work to change that thinking/action to be more loving and caring. Deification/theosis is much like parenting children. The children learn from their parents. Here, our parent is God, who is all loving and all forgiving. God waits ever so patiently for each of us to realize that we are his children and that He created us to be loving and forgiving. By emulating our parent (God), we learn to open ourselves up to being more loving and forgiving of those around us.
Now, that does not mean that when an error is made, that the error is not corrected. A good parent always corrects the child for their errors, but it is done with love. It is through love that we connect with one another. God is the energy within our lives that we need and must connect with. To unite with the energy of God is what we strive for. We are not seeking to make our lives more perfect morally, but more perfect through uniting with God and thus doing God's work in this world.
The God's energy that I am talking about is what is also known as God's uncreated grace. It is what lights up our lives. Saint Gregory Palamas gave to us the teaching and eternal experience of the Church concerning the deification/theosis of humankind. A Christian is not a Christian simply because he is able to talk about God. He is a Christian because he is able to have the experience of God. And just as, when you really love someone and converse with him, you feel his presence, and you enjoy his presence, so it happens in man's communion with God: there exists not a simply external relationship, but a mystical union of God and man in the Holy Spirit.
Deification/theosis is a process that takes time - just as forming any loving relationship takes time. God is patient as we grow in his likeness. He is always there willing to help us move with his divine energy. We have to be willing to listen to God's guidance and be willing to follow the guidance. Yes, we will stumble along the way, but God is there to help pick you up in his loving arms and to support you as you learn to walk as a deified human being. Are you ready and willing to become what God created in you? If so, then reach out to God and walk with Him wherever He leads you!