To Be Like Christ


Although there is a strong monastic tradition to envision the ideal monk as being an angel in the flesh, Hieromonk Gabriel Bunge reminds us that there is plenty in the Orthodox tradition that shows it is humans, not angels, who are the real focus of God’s love and plan.  God becomes incarnate as a human, and does not become an angel.  Fr. Gabriel says that the influential 4th Century monastic Evagrius totally admired the angelic life, but still biblical tradition still has human at the center of God’s plan.

“As loftily as Evagrius praises the ideal of ‘resembling the angel’, we may not forget that we are dealing here with a conceptual image. Man was neither created as an angel, nor is he destined to become ‘merely’ an angel at the consummation of the ages! The perfect ‘image of God’ according to which man was not only created, but also ‘renewed’ in holy baptism, is Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. The final goal in our ‘ascent’ to God is thus not merely to be ‘like the holy powers’, i.e. the angels, but rather to ‘be made like’ Christ!  … Only Christ has perfect knowledge of the ‘first principle’ of all things in that he possesses not only the limited ‘contemplation of the created, but also knows him who himself created everything.’ We must therefore eat his ‘bread,’ his ‘flesh’ and ‘blood’, in order to become ‘partakers of the Logos and the wisdom of God.’ ” (Dragon’s Wine and Angel’s Bread, pp 120-121)

The angels are awed and dismayed at God’s love for humans and that God the Son becomes incarnate as a human!  The angels minister to Christ even when He is incarnate as a man.