What makes us have a proper standing before God?
Asketh - Anonymous
In western Christianity, man has lost his standing in the favor of God because of the sin of his ancestor Adam, who disobeyed the commandment of God and was judged guilty for this transgression. Not only did Adam bring about God’s judgement on himself, but God also imputes his guilt to all of his progeny. In this view the Second Person of the Trinity takes on human nature in order to fulfill the punishment that humanity’s guilt requires, he dies on the cross and takes upon Himself the wrath of God.
In Eastern Orthodoxy, however, we do not hold such a view of original sin. We don’t understand the fallen condition of man to be a falling out of favor with God but to be a corruption of the human person, resulting in death. Rather than God turning away from man, man has turned away from God. God however, being the lover of mankind, pursues his wayward creatures, showing Himself and His mercy throughout history and ultimately in his taking on a human nature as the God-Man Jesus Christ. In becoming incarnate he brought a new order to everything, the Kingdom of God, and everywhere he went the Kingdom was made visible: the blind saw, the deaf heard, the dead were brought back to life. In His crucifixion He entered into the state of the dead, but being God death could not contain him, and he burst forth, trampling down death by His death and bringing life to all.
So my answer is that I don’t think its an issue of being outside of God’s good favor, rather I believe that God’s favor is always with us. The question is whether we will accept that favor, turn to Him through the washing of Holy Baptism and be nourished by Him in the Holy Eucharist, the result of which will be the emptying of all our ego, pride, and sin, and our being transformed from glory to glory into the image of Jesus Christ.
I hope that helps, please feel free to ask any follow-up questions you’d like.
PS: Steve Robinson has done a much better job at explaining this is the video I have posted below. Cheers!
A couple of weeks after my dad reposed, I was packing up our apartment in anticipation of moving into the house I grew up in. We had two children and were expecting our third, so Hannah was tired and crashed shortly after the kids went to bed. I was up by myself, packing up books and papers from the office-corner in our living room. The numbness of the past two weeks had worn off and I was shot through with emotion.
I missed my dad so much. In the month or so before he died he and I had been talking on the phone every day, and it seemed like it was a particularly close time in our up-and-down relationship. Even in the ‘down’ times, if I was in need of anything or was having a particularly hard time I knew that I could call my dad and he would help. But not now. It was the worst of need in a sense, and he was not there to help. I felt the harsh irony of the situation acutely.
I was sad for my brothers, who seemed to be taking the loss far worse than I did. I was especially sad for Chris, who lived 14 hours away and had to return so quickly to work after a brief visit home. I was angry, but not at anyone in particular. I wasn’t angry at God, nor at my dad. I was just angry, perhaps at the situation of my own helplessness. I was overwhelmingly hot with anger that I had no way and no right to express. So I didn’t fly in to a rage or throw things or strike the walls. I just kept packing.
I felt far form my Christian friends who decided to give me platitudes about God’s sovereignty instead of just saying they were sorry. I wasn’t really angry with them but I was kind of hurt that their theology seemed to preclude sympathy.
I felt most distance from God. I tried to pray but couldn’t. I tried to think theologically about the circumstance, but that just made me upset because my Calvinistic theology only allowed me to see it as an arbitrary work of God for the sake of his own glory, and that just wasn’t a good enough explanation for me. I didn’t really want to have anything to do with a God so arbitrary.
My faith was teetering, my whole being was a wreck, all those whom I could depend on were gone. In the midst of packing books and papers I lost composure completely and sank weeping to the floor. Unbidden, the words came to my lips:
Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Hail Mary, Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
What came after was not a beatific vision, not a light from heaven, not even a feeling as such. It was a simple knowing. Knowing that the Holy Virgin was there, knowing that she understood loss, knowing that she prayed for me. I could go to the Theotokos and ask her prayers and take strength from her intercession. It was this moment in which a great affection and love and devotion was born in my soul for Mary. After this, I did not need a theological reason to speak of her as my Mother or my Lady. It was simply so. I needed no historical examples for ascribing her exalted titles or later to venerate her icon, this was as natural as embracing any other beloved person. It was not argument that brought me to love the Theotokos, but her gentle intercession when I needed her.
Most Holy Theotokos, save us.