The Christian Century recently asked Christian theologians to summarize the Gospel in 7 words or less. You can find their answers here. Scott Cairns provided an Orthodox response: "God's humanity occasions our divinity." His answer reflects the theology of ancient Church fathers such as Ss. Athanasius and Ireanus who taught that God became human so that humans might become divine. This and also summarizes the message of the Great Feasts of the Church. In the first Feast we see the virgin Mary born in the flesh. In the last Feast we see her born of the Spirit, taken to Heaven by her Son and Lord. Cairns summary shows several distinctive characteristics of the Orthodox understanding of the Gospel:
1. The Gospel is inspired by God's love, not our sin. The article states, "Scott Cairns manages to capture a distinctively Eastern Orthodox understanding of the gospel in which sin is not even alluded to." This almost makes it sound like the Orthodox Chuch avoids the issue of sin. Of course, anyone who has atteneded Lenten services knows this is not the case. The point is that God wants to have communion with us. He wants to us to be everything He created us to be. He is not concerned with the satisfaction of a debt that we owe on account of our sin. The point is not just to stop sinning, to be good moral people. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18). We are to be partakers of the Divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4) Even if Adam and Eve had not sinned, God still would have become human so that humans could be made divine.
2. The Gospel has a high view of the human person. Many Western Gospel presentations do not. Consider summaries such as, "Divinely persistent, God really loves us," "God, through Jesus Christ, welcomes you anyhow," or "In Christ, God's yes defeats our no." In each of these we are saved in spite of ourselves. Either God decides to patiently put up with us or we are brought to Him kicking and screaming. Maybe your experience of God feels something like this. Such experience is normal while we are on the journey, but that journey leads to a grand destination. God created us in His image and likeness. He invites us to union with Him through Christ and calls us to be holy as He is holy. That call can't be given to an incompetent misfit. God is doing something wonderful in you and He is faithful to complete His work (Phil 1:6)
3. The Gospel is a Divine-human encounter. The Orthodox use the term synergy to say that God and man both have a part to play in the process of salvation. Some of the summaries focus on our role ("love your neighbor as yourself," "everybody gets to grow and change,") and others on God's role ("God gets the last word," "God enters history; renewed covenants promise salvation") . "God's humanity occasions our divinity" captures both sides of the exchange. He offers Himself to us freely, and calls us to do the same in return.