Many Orthodox Christians today would describe themselves as "culturally Orthodox" - meaning that they come from an ethnic culture that has in past centuries been part of the Orthodox Church. This can be a big help in helping a person live a faithful Christian life, but very often, "cultural Orthodoxy" simply isn't true. Here's why:
- Culturally Orthodox people have a sense of God's time - not just keeping the clock. Prayers need to be said, regardless of our sleepiness. Liturgy and memorial prayers are important and worth our attention - even if we "really need to get home". God's time counts.
- Culturally Orthodox people have a sense of order that accommodates Christian life in a natural way. We follow the fasts as a matter of course. We arrange travel plans around important feast days - not as an afterthought. We have icons in several convenient places - at home, in the car, at work, at school - to allow us to pray. It doesn't embarrass us, because it's who we are.
- Culturally Orthodox people learn from experience - from the saints down to grandma. Christian life was created by history and experience, not on philosophy and ideas. Thinking, ideas and learning are important, but shared experience teaches us the most important things.
- Christ and His Church come first. Culturally Orthodox people book off time from work to observe holy days. Our time and money attend to God's work first, then to ourselves. If we or our kids gain academic and financial wins, but lose salvation, we see the result as a complete failure.
A person may come from an Orthodox ethnic culture, but if their whole way of life looks the same as every other secular person, they aren't "culturally Orthodox" - they've lost it. Have you?