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Life beyond the Grave.


We believe that the connection of the man with God does not break after death; that even beyond the grave the soul, loving God and having preserved faithfulness to Him, will be living in great joy of constant communication with God. And we believe that communication with God in the greatest measure includes the entire joy and happiness, accessible to a human being.

But are not right those, who say that the Christian faith is mercenary, that we believe in God and serve to Him from the fear of death and those calamities, which death can cause us, and because of selfish hope for the blissful reward, which God will give to us for serving to Him in our lives?

But this is, of course, not so.

All the Christian teachers, who touched upon this problem, say that serving to God from fear of hell or thirst for the heavenly reward is unworthy of a Christian. Abba Dorotheus, the ancient worshipped teacher of monks, says that to serve to God because of fear is the state of a slave, to serve for a reward is the state of a hireling, and only to serve to God out of the feeling of filial love for Him is the authentic Christian mood, the only worthy state of a child of God.

If the Christianity was based on the fear of hell and on the expectance of the heavenly reward, then in the teaching of Christ, and in the apostolic sermon it would have been said much more about both the things.

Meanwhile, both the Gospel and the Epistles mention amazingly little about it. The Lord only in brief recalls of the eternal torture, awaiting the devil and his angels, to which will be sent off the unrepentant sinners, and about the eternal joyful life, waiting for the righteous, but not giving the detailed description of the heavenly beatitudes. The Apostle, talking about that, only in brief repeats the words of the Old Testament Prophet: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him"

Of course, such brevity of the Lord and His apostles concerning the heavenly life comes out of the fact that in reality it is impossible to describe in our human language and to understand with our three-dimensional consciousness the conditions of the other, immaterial being. But out of this brevity, almost silence of the Gospel about the details of the heavenly life we can draw a conclusion, that the appeal for faith and righteous life is not based on it.

The main promise of the Lord for everybody, loving Him and believing in Him, are His words: "I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also (John 14:3). Certainly, expectations of such a reward cannot be called as hiring. This is the manifestation of love. For only the one, who loves, appreciates to be there, where is the one, whom he loves. And if a Christian serves to God in order to be with Him in eternity, then he is not a hireling but a child of God.

Nevertheless, the Holy history knows the examples of the more elevated serving to God, when the people, devoted to Him and loving Him limitlessly, were ready to denounce their happiness to be with Him and condemn themselves to the torture of being away from Him, for the sake of fulfilling His tasks. This way, St. Prophet Moses, asking from God forgiveness to his people, exclaimed: "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written." The same way Apostle Paul says: "For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." This way the limitlessly loving person can sometimes denounce the most precious happiness of communicating with the one, whom he loves, if it is for the good of his beloved. This is the elevated self-denial.

But let us not mix the most holy self-denial of righteous Moses and Apostle Paul with the readiness of a sinner to sacrifice his salvation, i.e. the future communication with God, for the sake of these or those sinful pleasures. In the first example, love for God and devotion to His teaching pours over the brim, and in the second — there is indifference towards God and to the own soul. So, the refusal of the loving mother of the happiness of being together with the loved child, when it is for the good, cannot be compared with the criminal indifference of parents to the unloved children.

So, not of the trepidation caused by hell, not of the mercenary desire to earn the blessedness in heaven, a Christian serves to God. But, serving to Him because of love for Him, a Christian knows that the Lord, in the infinite measure responding to love with love, will not leave the soul, devoted to Him, in the abandoned state, but will call it to Him on His word: "Where I am, there shall also my servant be."

A bride, marrying not because of love for her bridegroom, but on the strife for becoming rich, is bad. But if she longs for her bridegroom because of love, and at the same time, knowing of his wealth and loving nature, is sure of her future happiness, then this is natural and good. Such must be, on the Church teaching, the attitude of a true Christian to his Lord.

To this must be added, that the words of Christ about the eternal bliss and eternal tortures are necessary for those, who still are far from God. These appeals are necessary in those cases, when the fear of torture can stop the soul, ready to commit an evil act, or the thirst for eternal bliss will make the sleeping soul wake for obtaining the eternal blessing.

In its upbringing of human souls the Church has aspirations, so that its children could have as a goal not only the salvation from tortures and gaining the state of blessedness, but first of all, the acquisition of the Divine love, so that not for anything else but for the sake of God, the Christian soul could long for Him, knowing that there where He is, there is the heavenly joy.

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