Try to think about the absence of God, and do realize that before you can knock at the door – and remember that it is not only at the door of the Kingdom understood in the general way, but that Christ really says ‘I am the door’ – before you knock at the door, you must realize that you are outside. If you spend your time imagining that in a mad way you are already in the Kingdom of God, there is certainly no point in knocking at any door for it to be opened. Obviously, you must look round trying to see where are the angels and the saints, and where the mansion is which belongs to you, and when you see nothing but darkness or walls, you can quite legitimately find it surprising that Paradise is so unattractive. We must all realize that we are still outsiders to the kingdom of God, and then ask ourselves ‘Where is the door and how does one knock at it?’
This wonderful quote from Met. Anthony Bloom’s Beginning to Pray (his subsequent chapter is on ‘how to knock’) underlines the simple centrality of Christ. In discussions of Church, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that it is Christ Himself whom we seek in the Church. He is everything. This is not to say that “the Church is of little importance.” No one who has endured difficulties in order to become an Orthodox Christian would ever say such a thing. But such difficulties are rightly endured if we encounter them for the excellency of knowing Christ. If someone says, “I don’t need all that to know Christ,” there is little argument to be made. It was quite some time before I realized that the Christ I sought to know has a Bride and a Mother and brothers and sisters and is surrounded with a great cloud of witnesses. It was indeed a long time in my Christian life before I realized that to know Christ fully would require that I also know all these whom He loves. I know today that were all these others to be taken away, my knowledge of Christ would be impaired and my heart would break.