There was a lot of discussion recently on Greek Facebook about a famous and popular priest who decided to stop being a priest. A choice that divided and provoked either positive or negative comments. I will not dwell on this discussion and on whether a priest who does such a thing is doing the right thing or not. Instinctively, I believe that such an act involves more the element of cowardice, as a friend of mine mentioned, than an element that could arouse admiration. Anyway, I did not know the man so my judgment is superfluous and may also be wrong.
This small event though made me think about another much more important issue: What effect does the fall of a person who is nothing more than an idol have on the people who followed him and believed in him as their guide in life? It may sound funny, but many people are looking for such guidance. Many times I have heard people talk about a priest in terms like “He is good, come and listen to him” or “He is an enlightened man” etc. What do the same people say when this priest gives up? Does their system collapse? Do they just… go to the next priest available? And regardless of that, the views these people had and which they based on their… previous idol, have they remained intact? If so, what role did this idol play in their lives? If not, then what role did these views play in these people’s lives?
These questions may seem funny or a little serious – especially to those who follow such idols – but they can be made even more serious by choosing another example: Christ.
Many Christians say they believe because they believe in Christ. What does this really mean? That their faith is based on His Resurrection, which they have believed beyond any doubt? So if they somehow go back in time and discover (hypothetically speaking) that the Resurrection was a complicated lie, then they would cease to be Christians? Or that if Christ suddenly started saying nonsense (again, hypothetically speaking), would they follow that nonsense literally because He says it? What does it mean to have a faith based on your faith in someone, even if that person is God?
To me, a lot of faith is a sign of little faith.
If you believe in the teaching which says “Love each other” (Gr. Αγαπάτε αλλήλους) you should do it not because someone else said it, but because you heard it, processed it and decided that you agree with it and incorporated it into your life. And the interesting thing is that if you did all of the above, it no longer matters who you heard it from or who said it! The seed that Christ sowed, if it eventually sprouts, belongs to each one of us. It no longer belongs to Christ, in the sense that a fool who follows someone else ‘belongs’ to the latter without mind and knowledge. If you believe in the teachings of Christ, then it does not matter if He even existed! Let alone if He was crucified, if He did what they say he did, etc. Because now this love is your own and you are now its self-luminous bearer. By your choice. And even if you took a time machine to go back in time and see that Christ did not even exist (the permanent dream of all hardcore atheists), your Christian values will not and should not be affected. If that happened then we would all be in big trouble and these values would not be actual values to be honest.
So let’s leave all the fake idols.
Let’s stop following them.
Let us ask ourselves simply and honestly.
Would we follow… us?
On the other hand, I may just say nonsense.
Who told you to follow me?