Summary: In a day and age where people evaluate each other by what they know, God has revealed to men and women the privilege of being known by someone.
The Greatest Gift of All Time: To Be Known By Someone
Theme: Friendship with God and Others
Time: Sunday Morning March 11, 2001
Question: Have we realized this Greatest Gift?
In Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel The Brother’s Karamazov, the story of a drunken debauched Father and his three sons who have been dislodged from each other most of their childhood now come back together to try and forge a relationship out of the great dysfunctional family they were raised in: Listen to the conversation between two of the brothers - Ivan - the middle brother who is typically in limbo as far as life is concerned and an agnostic - and Alyosha - the youngest who is a novitiate in the monestary and a believer in God - the scene takes place in a tavern not too far from their paternal home:
Ivan says to Alyosha, “To ask me, ‘what do you believe, or don’t believe at all? That’s what your eyes have been meaning for these three months, haven’t they?”
“Perhaps so,” smiled Alyosha. “You are not laughing at me, now, Ivan?”
“Me laughing! I don’t want to wound my little brother who has been watching me with such expectation for three months. Alyosha, look straight at me! Of course I am just such a little boy as you are, only not a novice. And what have Russian boys been doing up till now, some of them. I mean? In this stinking tavern, for instance, here, they meet and sit down in a corner. They’ve never met in their lives before and, when they go out of the tavern, they won’t meet again for forty years. And what do they talk about in that momentary halt in the tavern? Of the eternal questions, of the existence of God and immortality. And those who do not believe in God talk of socialism or anarchism, of the transformation of all humanity on a new pattern, so that it all comes to the same, they’re the same questions turned inside out. And masses, masses of the most original Russian boys do nothing but talk of the eternal questions! Isn’t it so?”
“Yes, for real Russians the questions of God’s existence and of immortality, or, as you say, the same question turned inside out, come first and foremost, of course, and so they should,” said Alyosha, still watching his brother with the same gentle and inquiring smile.
“Well, Alyosha, it’s sometimes very unwise to be a Russian at all, but anything stupider than the way Russian boys spend their time one can hardly imagine. But there’s one Russian boy called Alyosha I am awfully fond of.”
“How nicely you put that in!” Alyosha laughed suddenly.
“Well, tell me where to begin, give your orders. The existence of God, eh?”
“Begin where you like. You declared yesterday at father’s that there was no God.” Alyosha looked searchingly at his brother.
“I said that yesterday at dinner on purpose to tease you and I saw your eyes glow. But now I’ve no objection to discussing it with you, and I say so very seriously. I want to be friends with you Alyosha, for I have no friends and want to try it. Well, only fancy, perhaps I too accept God,” laughed Ivan, “that’s a surprise for you, isn’t it?”