As St John of Kronstadt says in his work ‘My life in Christ’: “those who endure dishonour in this life will not be subjected to it in the next.” So I have some practical things to think when faced with dishonour.
If a person insults you, calling you a worthless person, with or without coarse language, say ‘Yes! This is true! I deserve your words because of my sins! Thank you for your caustic words!’
If a person won’t talk to you, and repeatedly ignores you, leave them alone, and say ‘God told them to ignore me, because I have been ignoring God.’
If you are feeling lonely and empty on the inside, say ‘It is the will of God for me to feel this way, Jesus faced the same feelings and worse on the cross.’
If you are feeling rejected, and you can not find true love, say ‘I can not find true love because I reject the true love of God. It is all my fault, not my love interest’s.’
If you are excluded from a friendship circle because you are different, say ‘blessed are they, because they know how wicked I am, thus they are fulfilling the Lord’s admonition to the Israelites “put the evil out from under your midst.”
If you are being bullied needlessly by an accuser, say to them ‘God bless you. Thank you for your caustic words. By your words you drive out the serpents of arrogance and anger from deep in my heart.’
I was discussing with my wise spiritual father about who would go to heaven. He said, ‘God can save whoever He wishes.’ And this is true. The people who you think would be least likely to go to heaven will be in heaven, while the people you’d think would most likely get into heaven will be bound and cast out by the angels.
So we should never judge anybody, because secretly that person could be crying out in secret to the Lord, begging Him for the strength to repent.
Makes you think a little, doesn’t it?
Following on from my earlier post, I’d like to not only talk about the nature of hell, but also the concept of theosis.
Theosis means deification, which as St athanasius states is ‘a state of perfection greater than those experienced by Adam and Eve before their fall.’ There are 3 levels of walk in the Orthodox faith: purification, illumination, and deification. Adam and Eve were created at the 2nd stage called illumination. They had no sin, but they were not yet united to God. They would of been united to God had they taken of the fruit of the tree of life before their fall.
Purification is the first stage Orthodox Christians go through on our ascent of the ladder of divine ascent. It means the healing phase. Illumination is like the vision of God. Deification is the final stage, that of union with God, where they are like angels in heaven on Earth.
For those who reject the Lord’s commands through the Orthodox Church, God does not punish them as such. In the bible, Jesus describes hell as ‘the weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Why would he say ‘gnashing’? Don’t people gnash their teeth when they are extremely angry? In this case, it would be apparent that people in hell despise God so much that they grind their teeth in anger, never wanting to experience God’s presence as light and warmth.
It reminds me of what I’d think a protestant would feel in the afterlife. He might believe and loyally serve God in this world, as a pious protestant, but when he gets to heaven and sees the virgin mary sitting at the right hand of Jesus, he’d think ‘That’s not doctinally correct to venerate mary! That’s not part of my religion! I don’t like heaven very much! I hate heaven because of mary!’ So then heaven would become hell for that protestant, due to the theology he believed in during his lifetime.
There are no bars surrounding hell. Sinners and demons can leave hell anytime they want. All they just have to say is ‘Lord! Have mercy on me, a sinner!’ But as sinners are egotists, why would they want to leave hell, or bless the Lord? Egotists never stop blaming God.