Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Will God Ask If I Was Orthodox On Judgement Day?

I recently told a friend of mine I had converted to Orthodoxy. After a brief conversation about Christianity, his reply was, "Well, I don't think God is going to ask you whether you were Orthodox or Lutheran or Baptist when you see Him." I agreed. I don't think He is going to ask you anything about your denomination, but instead, you will stand there with your soul bared, and everything you are, to the core of your being, exposed. It will probably be a scary and embarrassing moment for most. What church you attended may not be as important as how well did your church prepare you for the day you stand vulnerable before the radiant, glorious and all-consuming fire of the living presence of God. How well did they train you to fight the forces of evil which war against your soul? Did your church challenge you to crucify and put to death the misdeeds of the flesh and control your passions?

As I pointed out to my friend, there are coaches who train you to a level where you can enjoy a sport. There are others who are more competitive who train you to win games. Then there are those who train at the Olympic level where their athletes are the best of the best, trained to finish the race with the victor's crown, to "run in such a way as to get the prize".

I knew a guy who played football in high school. He was really good and had a lot of fun playing the game. He went to college on a football scholarship. He said at this point, football stopped being fun. They were analyzing films and plays - they were making it more of a science than a sport. The pro level was even more intense, at which point he decided to go into pharmaceutical sales.

In the same way, Orthodoxy, when practiced fully, is intense. As my priest has said before, if Orthodoxy were just one of many right ways of practicing Christianity, it is the wrong way, because so much more is demanded of you. However, if it truly is the Olympic way, the way of the victorious martyrs and crown-bearing champions, then there would never be a need for God to ask if I am Orthodox or any other denomination. I will have been fully trained, fully discipled, presented "before His presence without fault and with great joy" because I have followed the Way laid out before me, passed down from Jesus to the Apostles to the entire Church for all generations to come. If any have strayed from this Way through a "different Gospel", then they have left the original Way, and horrifically trained others in their same errors leaving weakened souls in their wake.

May God have mercy on us all.


s-p said...

Your friend is correct. God is not going to ask us anything. His presence will be a "statement of fact" and how we grasp the meaning of that statement is what Orthodoxy is preparing us for.

Nicodemus said...

Yes, s-p, I want to be as prepared as possible! It is quite possible that once we see God face-to-face, our hearts will melt with shame and regret because we will see ourselves, not only as missing the mark in a million different ways, but we will also see all those things God had willed for us but which we rejected in pursuit of our own selfish desires - and I am especially talking about me!

One of my favorite verses is from Psalms 103 where it says (paraphrasing) "do not treat me as my sins deserve, but remember that I am but flesh". I think this expresses exactly how I feel now when I sin, but especially then when all my sin is laid bare in His Presence.