One of my favorite movies as a child was Disney’s The Lion King. In the movie, there is a character, Simba, who has left his royal family to be raised by a pig and a meerkat. He fills his days with play and singing “Hakuna Matata,” which means “no worries,” but in actuality, is practiced as “no responsibility and no need to ever grow up.” He pursues a life of selfish play, which is interrupted when his father, who is in the heavens, reminds him to “Remember who you are.”
We, like Simba, have left the divine royalty and sonship to which we have been called and have wasted our lives in fruitless play, sinful passions, and the pursuit of the “good life” this world offers. Our Father in Heaven is calling us to remember who we are, and in the words of St. Macarius, I find that reminder. He says,
Know, O man, your nobility and dignity. How precious you are, the brother of Christ, the friend of the King, the bride of the heavenly Bridegroom. For he who is capable of knowing the dignity of his soul is able to know the power and the mysteries of the Godhead and thereby is capable of being all the more humbled, since in the light of God’s power does a person see his fallen state.
But as He passed through the sufferings and the cross and thus was glorified and sat at the right hand of the Father, so likewise it is necessary for you to suffer with Him to be co-crucified and thus to ascend and to be seated with Him and to be joined to the Body of Christ and reign with Him forever in that world, “if so we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him” (Rom 8:17)
Those who are able to conquer and pass over the obstacles of evil enter into the heavenly city, which is full of peace and many good things, where the “spirits of just men” (Heb 12:23) find their rest. Therefore it is necessary on this point to take great pains and to struggle manfully. Indeed, it is not right that the Bridegroom came to suffer and to be crucified while the bride, for whom the Bridegroom came, should live in luxury and worldly distraction.
Those who do suffer and conquer are kings and lords and gods… Acknowledge your nobility, that you are chosen to a kingly dignity, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood and a holy nation” (1 Pt 2:9)…Still, granted that they are all this, chosen and approved by God, nevertheless, they regard themselves as the least and completely worthless. And this is natural for them, to hold themselves as lowly or as nothing.
Going back to the Lion King, we see Simba embrace this calling and commence the battle. We too must do so. The devil and our own sinful tendencies are holding us captive and we must struggle against these things in a life long battle.
To what are we struggling? To becoming kings and lords and gods. How do we reach such a state? By denying ourselves, taking up the cross, and following the commandments of the Gospel with love and humility.
Why does God call us to be gods? What does it mean to be gods? I hope to answer these questions in my next post.