Here is a podcast regarding an event that Christians have been anticipating since the beginning of the New Testament Church. Greece is implementing a national ID card and may bishops as well as elders at Mt Athos are urging Christians not to accept this ID card because it is clearly, at the very least, a forerunner to what St John calls in Revelation, “the mark of the beast.”
What is so unethical or unspiritual about accepting a card or mark in order to participate in an economy? Why is it that St John states that anyone who receives the mark of the beast is damned? The answer, I believe, is quite simple! The Gospel is primarily about community. The Christian life is one that has its own ethical, moral and spiritual standards. It does not ask the government to lead us ethically, rather, it, as a group (the Church) does this on her own and withdraws from any secular group that offers assistance or advice. The more a government becomes secularized, the more we should withdraw from it and create our own communities and strongholds. This will require sacrifice and I think many will not want to do this. It is not going to be easy!
We can see in the Acts of the Apostles that Christian community was established almost immediately, to the extent of the Church sharing their property and goods. As the Church grew into the first few centuries, it built many communities that were “underground” since Christianity became increasingly persecuted. Finally, Constantine helped expand the Christian community and even helped the bishops establish the Canon of Scripture. This community became so powerful that it was recognized as an actual empire! Many great things were accomplished and thousands of saints were glorified by the Church during this time. But now we no longer have such an empire, or even a community. Nearly every Christian country, except for Russia, is actually becoming more and more secular.
When we begin to refuse this mark of the beast, we begin to refuse the secularization of the Gospel, of our Christian communities. We will begin to migrate back to the pre-Nicene persecuted community where submission to the secular leadership was very minimal. The Church began with community and it will enter into eternity with community. Community is what the Gospel entails, building up one another and becoming interdependent on one another, with our own spiritual and in some sense civil values. Let us prepare for what St Paul refers to as our “blessed hope,” which is Christ’s return!