YOU LIVE- YOU DIE- THAT’S IT!
This is the believe of countless millions of people including many who call themselves Christian. All they care to know is you live and then you die, and that’s it. These people will be judged as all men will be judged and ignorance is no excuse, for conscience is God’s voice to all mankind. There are some who believe that everyone goes to heaven when they die and that’s it. But this can’t be, for everyone will be rewarded according to their faith and deeds, whether they did good or evil, for good and evil have opposite rewards. Others say, I am a good person; I never did anything bad to anybody therefore I am a good Christian, and have nothing to be concerned about, but this is completely false, for no one can be his own judge and all of us are sinners and no one can claim to be sinless except our Lord Jesus Christ who alone is without sin. In this present article we will speak only to Orthodox Christians who are in His Church and should, by their strong faith and sincere love of Christ be a living example before all mankind.
The first and most important thing is an exclusive and major difference in the true Church and all other churches is the presence under the form of leavened bread and wine in the Holy Eucharist which is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ our Lord and God. This was made possible through His terrible suffering and passion and crucifixion followed by His death on the Cross. After His death on the Cross, He arose in the third day according to the Scripture. And He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. He taught us through the Scriptures, and said: “Search the Scriptures.” The Scriptures contain divinely inspired words o Christ and the apostles, guiding us on the true path. We will certainly be judged by the Godman Jesus, according to our faith and works we accomplished, whether good or evil. This judgment will deliver us to eternal life or eternal death, to joy and gladness or sorrow and distress.
What is faith, which according to Scripture without faith no one can be saved? Faith in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit begins with acknowledging that He exists, and as this faith develops it arouses hope in the soul, coming from the realization of Him as the Creator of all and will reward each of us when He judges all. Through faith we learn much about Him, that He is all powerful, that he is holy and all-wise; that he is good, perfect, in need of nothing being the absolute God and Creator of all. Initially, faith arouses within us the fervent hope to know Him better as we begin to communicate with Him directly.
When fervent hope increases then love pours into our souls directly from the man-loving God, and the closer we are to Him the more we enjoy His goodness and extreme love for us. Love for such a good and perfect God leads to an even deeper love for Him and we approach Him with worship and adoration. Faith, hope and love can all be expressed in love, the greatest virtue, for God is love. To claim to have faith in God and not to love Him is not genuine, and lack of faith separates us from God. For “By your faith you are saved.” Again the beginning of faith is beginning to know the true God and not a false god who doesn’t even exist, for there in the world the true faith and many false faiths.
Through His Church we learn about Jesus Christ the Godman, and His great love that caused Him to accept His holy Passion, His death and holy Resurrection. The more we learned wonderful and glorious things about Him and were amazed we will be at His plan for us and our destination according to His promise, for we are destined to rise with Him in His glorious Resurrection. It is not “You live and then you die-that’s it! Instead His words are heavenly and filled with goodness and great love. But His love for us will do us no good unless we love Him in return. Jesus taught this when He was asked: “Teacher which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto Him: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment . . .” Love seeks to impart all the goodness we have to our beloved, and all the goodness we have is our own beloved souls and bodies. To love God is to dedicate all that we have to Him and to live in accordance with His will. To love God is to know His will and put that first and above everything.
It takes effort to put this work into practice but Jesus Christ made it pleasantly possible, by giving us His Body and Blood in the mystery of the Eucharist. By eating and drinking Him in this divine and perfect food, a great change should take place within us, for this food is stronger and more nourishing than all other food as it bestows upon us the nature of the Godman, and we become gods like God.
If we attend Church and partake of the mysteries, blindly and without understanding what we eat and drink, it becomes very dangerous because without this understanding we “eat and drink condemnation to ourselves,” as Scripture through St. Paul writes. When this writer was young, communicants partook of the Eucharist only four times a year and they were few in number. In our days most everybody partakes, which requires caution. For if someone partakes without appropriate preparation and an improper lifestyle and behavior, the Eucharist will not be a blessing to him and he will suffer harm.
Ask ourselves these questions. Do I live an Orthodox Christian life? Do I say my morning and evening prayers? Do I keep myself away from all sins, and if I fail do I go to confession? Do I keep the fasts prescribed by the Church? Do I say the prayers before and after Holy Communion? Do I rejoice in the Lord every day and express my gratitude to Him for all that He has given unto us? Do I place Jesus Christ before me as the most important thing in my life and do I worship Him as true God and do I realize that “He will come again in glory as my Judge? Am I struggling to become more like God being His image?
Instead of “You live, you die, that’s it!” It remains that you live and by death you enter the endless next life and face eternal judgment; and that’s it!
When we die we will take whatever immaterial things we have accumulated in this life, and if you became wicked and sinful, you will be separated from God for ever and enter terrible suffering and the gnashing of teeth. If we have loved Christ with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, we will dwell for ever in endless joy and extreme happiness with Him for all eternity. The following is taken from the Prologue of Ochrid.
“And to know the love of Christ in which passes knowledge”
“The love that passes knowledge, that exceeds our understanding: this is the love of Christ. No one can have any idea of either the nature or the greatness of this love until Christ makes His abode in him. Can anyone who has never eaten honey have any idea of its taste? Once Christ enters by faith into the heart of a man, that man experiences the inexpressible taste of the love of Christ, its sweet and intoxicating fragrance as it completely embraces us. As a man having Christ in his heart touches the breadth and length and depth and height of the knowledge of divine wisdom, so also a man having Christ in his heart touches the endless, rolling ocean of the love for Christ.
O my brethren, how weak are words when we try to speak of the love of Christ – nowhere are they so weak and ineffective as here. What can be said in the face of such amazing proofs of His love. He creates us from love, takes flesh from love, endures shame and death from love, and from love opens the heavens and reveals the deathless glory that has been prepared for us. This that we have enumerated is only a little part of all that is the inexhaustible, richness, glory, beauty and life-giving food that is called the love of Christ. O when shall we be worthy by faith to have Christ dwell in our hearts, that we may experience His inexpressible love? O Lord Jesus Christ, our Life, our Wisdom, and our Love, cleanse us and make your abode in us. To you be glory and praise for ever. Amen.”
(The last two paragraphs from: Prologue of Ochrid # 4, P 214-215)