Purpose in life

In this world, we all have a God-given purpose. We may like it, we may not, but ultimately God determines our destiny. I am not a believer in predestination, but I believe that we must cooperate with God’s grace in order to achieve our purpose in life.

But are we doing what God wants in our life, or are we doing our own will, or even worse; saying we are doing God’s will but really doing our own will?

Take me for example. When I read into the bible, I misinterpreted many concepts, as I never had a director in the spiritual things. I interpreted the great commission for the apostles upon Jesus’s resurrection as applicable to me, meaning I had to go and preach the gospel to strangers. This was an error on my part, as living my life for God could prove as obedience to God’s will.

Street preaching is not for everybody, and certainly not for me. I thought my purpose was evangelism. But since I’ve been on better medication and hence joined the Orthodox Church, I have found new direction in my life.

Many of the protestant denominations are evangelical, as in they will go into the community to seek out new members. The Orthodox church is monastic and ascetic, meaning it leads by example, and those most shining spiritual examples are the monks, priests, bishops, nuns and hermits of our holy faith.

So, instead of talking about the bible, serving my parents is my evangelism. Going to confession is my evangelism. Working at my volunteer work is my evangelism. So I have found new direction in life.

The people of this world usually will not want to hear a street preacher approach them and introduce them to the gospel. But there is a remnant of people like myself who are trying to find the truth, and yearn to find truth. I hope a member of the Orthodox church can lead even me to the truth.

Scourged by the whip of God’s love

The Protestant and Catholic traditions have a long history of believing that hell is a material fire and is a state of separation from God. This is not what the Eastern Rite Orthodox Church believes.

Psalm 139:8: ‘Even if you make your bed in Sheol (hell), I (the Lord) am there.’ I could only come up with this verse to prove the reality that hell is not a place, but a condition of the soul.

To quote Archbishop Lazar Puhalo of the ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia), ‘God doesn’t send anybody to hell. God doesn’t punish us either in this world or the world to come. And as St Anthony the great says, “It would be great error to think that God could love people in hell any less than He loves people in heaven.” Because hell is your condition, it’s not a place. The malice we feel is the fire that burns. The malice within our own conscience.’

St Isaac the Syrian describes the state of the sinners in hell as a state in which they are ‘scourged by the whip of God’s love.’

I shall give you an example from my own life. Each time I attend the divine liturgy at my Greek Orthodox church, I feel as though I am in hell, I feel the fire that burns. I feel the malice and rancor of my tendency to judge others, even my fellow parishioners in the temple of the Lord.

I am not looking forward to my day of judgement, where I will have to face the Lord. The Lord will not accuse me of anything. My own conscience, the basic input-output system of our morality, will accuse me, where I will feel the ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Luke 13:28).

One of the Saints, in his deep humility, said, ‘I will go to the place where the devil will be condemned.’ If I were to say that about myself, it would not be humility, it would be a fact.