“So, you’re Christian… What type of Christian are you?” I overheard the conversation of some high-school-aged people sitting next to me.
“Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic?” he questioned the girl sitting next to him.
“I’m not really anything. I’m just Christian,” she answered back.
He forgot to mention “Orthodox Christian,” I thought to myself. Did he know about Orthodox Christianity? I didn’t feel like speaking up or barging into the conversation. But something kept tugging at me. I will admit, at that moment, I didn’t want to be the voice for Orthodoxy. I just wanted to be in the background.
But I said it anyway.
“You know, there’s also Orthodox Christian.”
“Oh yeah. That’s right. I’ve heard about them,” he said. “It’s like Catholic, right?”
“It’s more traditional, like Catholic. But it’s the original Christian church, the one all the other Christian churches came out of.”
“Oh, that’s cool.”
“I’m actually Orthodox Christian,” I said.
This was totally out of my comfort zone, but I felt the need to plant a seed. Not in a know-it-all, holier-than-thou way, but as a laid-back invitation. My hope was that someone would think, “Hmmm… I’ve heard about the Orthodox church. What is that all about anyway?”
And who knows? Maybe one month down the road, maybe ten years later, they might walk into an Orthodox church and experience it for the first time. And maybe, they might choose to stay.
It drives me nuts how much misinformation is out there about Orthodoxy. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been asked:
“Do I have to be Greek to go to your church?”
Of course, I always say, “No,” and I explain the roots of the church and the Greek influence.
A few months ago, I took my children to an ice cream shop. Noticing that they were playing Christian music, I commented to the teenagers who rang up my order.
“I like that you guys are playing Christian music. You don’t see that very often.”
“Oh yeah. The owners are Christian,” the young woman behind the register said. “Do you guys go to church around here?”
“Yes, we do,” I said, and told her we attended an Orthodox Christian church.
“Orthodox Christian? I’ve never heard of that,” she said.
“It’s basically the early Christian church, way back from the times of the Apostles,” I said.
“Oh. That’s interesting. The early church. Cool.”
It’s so crazy to think that so many people still don’t know about Orthodoxy, or they think it’s only a church for certain ethnic groups.
The way I see it, it takes each Orthodox Christian going out there into the world and living their lives as examples, sharing the treasure of our faith. If we do our best to be loving, caring Orthodox Christians, contributing to our communities, people will start to put a face to the words “Orthodox Christianity.” They will begin to see it as real, not ancient buried history. And for those who have had bad experiences with Orthodoxy, or are ignorant, maybe we can be the change that softens their heart.
What are you doing to put a face to your Orthodox Christianity? Go out there and plant the seeds!