That You May Be A New Lump
Keraza Magazine issue 19-20 May 9, 2014
The Holy Spirit ordained, through the adept church fathers, for the memory of the Resurrection to remain before our eyes at all times. We celebrate it daily in the Prime prayer, weekly on Sunday, monthly on the twenty-ninth of each Coptic month, and yearly on the Resurrection Feast and throughout the Holy Fifty Days. The Holy Spirit’s amazing persistence on this commemoration is not without Economy, rather, it is befitting the Resurrection’s glorious impact on our lives. Whenever we remember the Lord’s Resurrection, we celebrate our new man who was born in us during baptism.
As a person is born a babe and gradually grows until maturity, likewise our new man who is born in us in baptism is like a seed buried inside us, hidden in our hearts, needing care to grow gradually until it attains to "a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians4:13). Although our new birth occurred once during baptism, the revealing of our new man is renewed every day, rather each moment: "...And have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge" (Colossians3:10).
The maturing process of the new person is a dynamic process, composed of two components that work simultaneously. One is perpetually taking off the old man, embodied in a negative struggle to cast off all evil and form of evil, that is, all the works of darkness and works of the flesh, "Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness...not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy" (Romans13:12-13). The other component is putting on the new man, embodied in a positive struggle to acquire all the virtues of the kingdom of heaven. It is not right for a person to suffice with the taking off process, lest one is found naked of all the virtues of the kingdom, hearing the rebuke saying, "Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?" (Matthew22:12). I mean that it is not enough for us to acquire the negative righteousness of the Pharisee, "I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers..." (Luke 18:11). Rather we must grow in virtue so that, "If indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked" (2 Corinthians 5:3).
St. Paul the apostle uses an exquisite expression to describe the new identity of the person: "That you may be a new lump" (1 Corinthians5:7). The word lump is very expressive, describing the mixing of the ingredients together so that thereafter a person is unable to separate the individual ingredients. For example, when one person wants to describe the extent of another person’s malice, one says that this one is "a lump of malice", meaning that malice has become an inseparable part of that person’s nature and behavior. The old man is a lump of all what belongs to the ego, the devil and the world to a degree made the psychologists to describe a collective unconsciousness as a part of the person's unconsciousness in which is the stored all the heritage of the human experience accumulated along the ages with all its corruption as if it is, "a little leaven that leavens the whole lump" (1 Corinthians 5:6). The new man, on the other hand is mingled with all what belongs to God. Even if separating the yeast from the lump is impossible, yet the Holy Spirit alone is able to separate the bad yeast from our inward man, so that it becomes a new lump (1 Corinthians 5:7), and then, when we reach our glorious new man and stay in contact with him, we shout always, "Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States