We weren’t born to die but to live eternally15 November 2021
God is love (1 Jn. 4, 16). And we people are created ‘in the image and likeness’ of the God of love. But the God of love is also fair-minded. He respects our freedom and doesn’t set before us us his power but his even-handedness. In this way, we remain free to accept or reject communion with him. He did this from the beginning and continues to do so after the fall, with his plan for our salvation. This is why he became human and was crucified for us. His power was manifested after death, through his resurrection. Saint Gregory Palamas says that this indicated the perfect order God adheres to in the execution of his works. We are also called upon to follow this order in the completion of our tasks on earth, so that we may observe it eternally, when we receive the power at the time of our immortality .
We weren’t created to die, but to live eternally. This fleeting life is a precursor of eternity. And the way we act in this transitory life prepares our state in eternity. God doesn’t impose himself on us by force. The kingdom of God isn’t one of oppressive authority but of all-powerful love and freedom. But if people turn their face from God, they short-circuit and punish themselves. In this way, from as early as this short life, they enter eternal despair.
In his book On the Life in Christ, Saint Nikolaos Kavasilas writes that the life in Christ begins in this life and is completed in the next, but that neither this life nor the next can perfect our souls unless we make a start here.
Just as we have the bodily senses of sight, smell and so on, there are also spiritual senses. The present life is the workshop where we hone these spiritual senses. People who don’t acquire spiritual senses here will remain ‘dead and wretched’ in eternity. God will appear to all as light, but such people will remain in darkness, like the foolish virgins, because it’ll no longer be possible for them to make eyes. The fragrance of the Holy Spirit will fill all things but they won’t be able to acquire smell if they don’t already have it. Those who haven’t developed their spiritual senses before they depart this life won’t have anyone in common in the next life, whereas those who do have their spiritual senses will share in eternal bliss with Christ .
Pure spiritual senses, a clean heart, make us blessed and able to see God . With Christ’s resurrection, which is the quintessence of the divine revelation, ‘everything is filled with light’. This isn’t something which simply needs to be believed but is something which can and should be lived. Christ wasn’t the prophet of the resurrection and the kingdom of God, but the agent who brought them to pass. He didn’t foretell things that would happen in the future, but brought these things right into the present and made them, to a certain extent, attainable by all, depending on their purity and receptivity. The resurrection canon urges us: ‘Let us cleanse our senses and we shall see the inapproachable light of the resurrection’. The light of the resurrection is the light of the kingdom of God; it’s the light of the future age which exists and is revealed to the saints, in a preliminary manner, even in this present life.