Orthodoxy is a way of life. It is the ancient Christian way of life that seeks to live a life totally in union/communion with God. When a Western Christian first looks at Orthodoxy, they often see something that is foreign, antiquated, and perhaps irrelevant. When one scratches the surface a little deeper, with a hard, honest, and sober look, they are blown away by the uninterrupted theological and historical continuity. They discover the ancient roots of the New Testament and what the Early Church taught. They discover that the ancient church is not divided theologically (Protestantism has at least 23,000 different denominations according to the U.N.). The Orthodox Church is still one, worldwide, and today only divided administratively because of geography and culture that often corresponds often to a country’s borders. Orthodox unity is organic. It is not forced. This unity transcends borders and time. You can ask any Orthodox authority any question on the person of Christ, etc. in any century, in any country, the answer wouldn’t change. Eternal truths do not change!
When Christ stood before Pilate, he asked our Lord “What is truth?” (Jn 18:38) Pilate was looking at Truth (but failed to see it standing in front of him.) (Jn 14:6). The Orthodox life is all about standing soberly before Christ, in prayer, in worship, by fasting, etc., and seeking and discerning the Truth. It is a 24/7 effort.
Many ask, “Where has this church been?” Annually, thousands of Americans, including clergy and whole parishes are regularly converting to Orthodoxy. Becoming Orthodox is not a rejection of one’s past, but is adding to, building up upon it, and even the fulfillment of one’s spiritual journey.
Orthodox Christians are people of prayer. Prayer defines us. The life of God flows into people when they pray. Orthodox are called to follow a strong prayer discipline. When people pray, their lives become more Christ-like. We fast regularly to improve our prayer. Approximately one-half the calendar year is devoted to some level of fasting.
Orthodox Christians are people of worship. For practical reasons, we do not have daily services in our local parish, but we worship regularly and often. Orthodox worship is not entertainment oriented. Instead, we understand that we enter in to the eternal worship that takes place in the Kingdom of Heaven continuously (Is 6, Rev. 4&5). We stand throughout the service because we are really before God’s Throne! Orthodox worship is liturgical, just like the Temple worship was. Christ worshipped liturgically. The Apostles worshipped liturgically (Acts 2:42f). Some say Christ never ended liturgical worship but this merely conjecture and not supported by Scripture. St. Justin Martyr 110-165 A.D. describes the Eucharistic Liturgy in his First Apology (147-161 A.D.)
Contrary to popular belief, liturgical worship is not dead. It is entered into. It takes 6-12 times attending worship services to begin to be able to truly enter in to the worship.
Orthodox Christians practice ascetical discipline. Ascetical discipline is spiritual athleticism. The Apostle Paul in Col 3:5 tells us to put to death what is earthly in us. Asceticism is this process. We practice asceticism so that there may be fruit in our lives. Just as an athlete trains to compete, so do we train to run the race! Asceticism includes, but is not limited to (and in no specific order), regular: prayer, fasting, study of scriptures, regular church attendance, studying the Fathers and other spiritual readings, almsgiving, tithing, missions work, etc.
Orthodoxy answers all the questions people have about faith. It is spiritually and intellectually deep. I encourage you to explore further, but beware; there are many pseudo-Orthodox on the web. They claim to be Orthodox, but are not united to the 225 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.
Visit our sister website devoted to exploring the ancient faith here, http://discovertheearlychurch.org/