When we hear the word “Antichrist” what comes to mind? Usually, it is some ultimate evil person that is opposed to Christ. Books and movies are filled with these demonic depictions of some totally evil world leader that is bent on destroying the followers of Christ. In actuality, the word “Antichrist” does not mean “against Christ” or “opposed to Christ”. That is an assumption we make based on the English word “anti” but the term “Antichrist” is a Greek word.
At the very end of the Sunday service in the Orthodox Church, blessed bread is given out to everyone present. This bread is often known by its Greek name: Antidoron. This word is broken down anti (instead of) and doron (gifts). So it means: Instead of the gifts. In other words, it is not Holy Communion, but rather it is given out to everyone “instead of” Holy Communion. The pinnacle of the service was the reception of Holy Communion and now that the service is over, everyone receives the antidoron. When the priest is preparing for the liturgy he takes one special part out of the bread to be used for Holy Communion. Once that preparation service is completed the rest of that bread becomes the antidoron (“instead of the gifts”).
We can use that same break down of the word Antichrist: anti (instead of) Christ. Anything or anyone that is “instead of Christ” would fit the definition of being Antichrist.
First, let’s take this thought in the direction of the building of a kingdom here on earth. Christ came to give us a place in His Kingdom. The early followers of Christ thought He had come to establish a new kingdom on earth that would replace the Roman Empire. Christ told them that that His Kingdom was not of this world. In fact, this world has a “prince” that desires to be followed and worshiped.
Mankind has always been consumed with establishing a kingdom on earth. Over the centuries, these kingdoms have risen and they have fallen. These kingdoms have had many differing philosophies and goals. “If only everyone had everything in common then there would be a utopia.” “If only this one certain race were left, then the perfect society would be realized.” “If only all religions were done away with, then true peace could be attained.” The “if only” concept of building one’s kingdom on earth seems to be a regular occurrence in history. Establishing a perfect kingdom on earth could be said to be “antichrist” because it is an attempt to have a kingdom established by mankind “instead of” belonging to the Kingdom established by Christ Himself.
Perhaps some of the leaders behind these kingdom building attempts have come to your minds as you read this. Such figures as Hitler or Stalin may have popped up. . Our view of Hitler and Stalin being evil is gained from seeing the completed work of their hands. When they first started, many people thought them to be almost messianic…another “instead of” Christ. The followers of Jim Jones did not go with him to Guyana because they viewed him as an evil man. They went to help him establish his kingdom on this earth that would be a perfect utopia. He and his followers came to the conclusion that he was the second coming of Christ. When his kingdom began to collapse around him, he and most of his followers drank the poisoned kool-aide and died. We can look back and see the horrible evil, but it wasn’t so obvious in the beginning. We know now that he was simply another “instead of” Christ.
Let’s move from the global scale and bring this down to a very personal level. Have I been building a kingdom for myself? This can be a very troubling thought for most of us. Here are some random questions to ponder:
*Who is honestly number 1 in my life…who do I love the most? (If I purposely avoided thinking about self…why did I do that?) *Right now, what is the most important goal that I have in mind? *What is the mark of true success for me? *How important is it for me to be praised and exalted by other people? *Why do I drive the car I drive? *For me, how much money is enough? *For me, what priced house is enough to live in?
Well, that is more than enough introspection on my life. “Instead of” Christ things seems to fill my life with purpose and meaning. I am writing this as the thoughts come into my mind and I find I am becoming rather uncomfortable right now. St. John tells us that “many antichrists are in the world right now” and suddenly I find myself thinking about the many “instead of” Christ values and goals that exist in my life right now. Wow…I am far from being the “sold out” Christian that I would like to think I am. There is a lot of work…a lot to confess…and a lot to repent of (meaning a true change of direction) that should keep me busy for quite some time.
This “An UpWord Glance” certainly did not go the direction I had in mind when I began writing. I had never really taken time to think about the term “antichrist” as being “instead of” Christ and then applied that concept to my own life. I hope you found this helpful as you continue to “run the race marked out for you.”
God’s blessings to each of you.
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