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living for life after death.


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#1 Paul

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 09:00 AM

I just see some writings, that sort of encourage how we should live this life for reward of the afterlife. I use to think this way, think I must live a certain way out of fear of going to hell, to what the Bible says. Now I think differently. I want to be happy in this life, find peace in this life.


I don't know for sure what happens after death. I even don't live to do what the Bible says if to what just what is suppose to please God, because in many ways I don't know. I do understand certain things, at least I think. I want to love and be good, in this life, and that makes this life more beautiful. Can be a struggle, but it's for three now, not the thereafter.


Yes a pray, I understand God to be goodness and love, in which we were created to live this life, I do desire to please God in that way, but not just blindly please a god as I believed before, I need to know what is God, I need to know and feel that love and goodness in this life. I don't want to live a miserable life. I don't to be one who thinks others are going to hell, and myself heaven. I don't want to not enjoy the good pleasurable things that a Creator has given us in this life. For how can you want good for others, if you don't want it yourself.


If I was to abstain from, marriage, always fast, take no pleasure in food, in my wife, in others company, in the beauty say of the countryside, of the beach, of having fun, of laughing with others in a good joyful way, in helping others. I'm sure the orthodox church does see the beauty of this life, just sometimes I see the focus in attaining heaven in a future life, but what about consentrating in this life.


Is it an error to think on attaining heaven in this life? Not of the pleasures as lusts, but of appreciation, in love and goodness.in enjoying and sharing, and taking delight in others goodness, anothers happiness in this life.


Edited by Olga, 13 February 2015 - 09:22 AM.
Reformatted paragraphs for ease of reading


#2 Paul

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 09:05 AM

I missed saying how can I want the goodness if this life for others, if I don't see no goodness it myself.

#3 Deacon John Martin

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 01:46 PM

Man was made to contemplate God, not only in the next life, but in the present one as well. According to St. Athanasius, Man fell when he took his spiritual eyes away from God and affixed them on earthly things, seeing them as having a value in and of themselves. Thus, our attention is scattered among many earthly cares. Our desires become our idols. Satiating our desires (which are inherently insatiable) does not lead to happiness or freedom in this life, but to slavery. It is only by losing ourselves, our self-interest, that we gain everything back. Everything is seen in a new light: “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) Thus, the Church is here to bless all the dimensions of earthly life, transfiguring them. We have prayers for the harvest, for vineyards, for meals. We bless marriage. In fact, before any activity we should pray, consecrating it, and every moment of our life to God.



#4 Anna Stickles

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 02:09 PM

Paul,

 

What you say is good and right. The desire for goodness and beauty is given to all of us by God.  Pursuing love and goodness is going to make us much happier than simply living our lives in fear of hell. 

 

For the question though about attaining heaven in this life.  What do we mean by heaven?  How do we get there? Can we live in perfect happiness when we look around and see so much suffering around us?  Can we get rid of the suffering around us? If not then how should we live in the midst of a fallen world? These are things the Church teaches us.

 

If I was to abstain from, marriage, always fast, take no pleasure in food, in my wife, in others company, in the beauty say of the countryside, of the beach, of having fun, of laughing with others in a good joyful way, in helping others.

 

The purpose of restraint in marriage and fasting is not to suffer and avoid pleasure - this way of looking at it is focused completely on what we ourselves are experiencing.

 

However, Christ calls us to struggle to become unselfish.  We put our own pain and pleasure in the background and do what is best for others. The saints who have done this fully do experience something of heaven on earth because God makes them happy inside, even when their circumstances are very difficult and painful.... but we see in the lives of the saints that their goal was not being happy and enjoying life - a rather self-centered goal after all, but their goal was to be like Christ in living a self-sacrificial type of love.

 

For example, we may want to enjoy a day at the beach, but a neighbor, who we don't even like very well, asks us to help with some unpleasant and boring project. What are we going to do?   

 

When we are fasting, we don't starve ourselves, making ourselves grumpy, irritable and tired, rather we eat more cheaply and more simply in order to give more to the poor and also to have more time for others.  In a balanced way we can also stretch ourselves, so that we can get used to eating less and still have energy and joy to give to others.

 

The reason for self-restraint is not to make us unhappy - self-restraint practiced without Christ's help, and in a self-referential way makes us irritable and nasty and this does not help us or others, but also pursuing pleasure is addictive and can quickly make us self-centered. What Orthodox Christianity calls us to is balance and sobriety and wisdom in our practice of self-restraint with a goal of being more selfless. 

 

We should not look at the lives of the saints and think we need to live like they did, but rather as good Christians we work within the place and with the people God gives us.  We might start out giving a little extra money to the poor instead of taking such an expensive vacation, each day we have opportunities to humble ourselves and forgive others, we have opportunities to keep our mouth shut when we get irritable, and eventually when Christ's grace is more present, then maybe we can be insulted or contradicted and not feel irritated at all.   



#5 Anna Stickles

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 02:47 PM

http://pemptousia.co...s-happy-part-2/



#6 Paul

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 03:49 PM

Thank you

#7 Father David Moser

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 03:55 PM

The premise and question of the original post is somewhat flawed from an Orthodox approach. We are not called to live for "life after death" but rather to live for and within eternity. Life after death when placed in opposition to this life creates two separate lives but this is just not the case. As Christians we are called to live for eternity - and eternity encompasses the here and now just as much as the time "after death". Eternity is, in fact, beyond time, transcending time. Eternity is the "environment" (if I can use a worldly term to describe that which is beyond this world) in which God is.

By living for either "the now" or "life after death" we limit ourselves severely and do not truly live in the way in which we were intended to live. We were created to live in union and communion with God and that mean to live in eternity. One of the consequences of the fall is that man his ability perceive eternity - our spiritual senses are clouded. The goal of the Christian life is to restore our spiritual senses, to become fully man that we might also become like God. The primary purpose of the fasts is not to deprive ourselves and suffer needlessly or to "eat more simply that we might give more to the poor" (although that is one beneficial side effect of the fast) or anything that relates to this life. The primary purpose of the fast (whether we are talking about the food fast or the more widely defined fast from all worldly pleasures - including but not limited to marital relations - is to weaken the chains to the things of this life (the here and now) that we might break away from our captivity and enslavement to this world and begin to more clearly perceive the greater world of eternity and God Who is the center of all things.

Of course we cannot and never could achieve our purpose of living in union and communion with God - we were never meant to do so alone. God Himself has always been a part of fulfilling that purpose. He freely pours out his grace upon us - but it is up to us to acquire, retain and use that grace. We cannot be "saved" (that is enter into communion and union with God) by any other means that by the action of God's uncreated grace in us. Our actions simply serve to remove the obstacles in ourselves to the actions of grace, to attract and acquire that grace and to cooperate with its working in us. Anything less no matter how lofty or sublime it might seem to us - including the life "of appreciation, in love and goodness; in enjoying and sharing, and taking delight in others goodness, anothers happiness in this life." - is to fall short of what God has intended for us and to fail to acquire "heaven" (since "heaven" essentially requires one to live in union and communion with God).

So in the end, the answer to the question posed is: yes it is an error to think that one can attain "heaven in this life" when it is limited and defined only by this life. Heaven is so much more and to never raise one's eyes above this world, this life, the "here and now", is to miss the mark.

Fr David

#8 Paul

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 05:43 PM

Thank you again, makes much sense.
If I remember right is there a verse, "the kingdom of heaven is within us"
I can agree with all you said, and my error if I seemed to ask if heaven can be fully attained in this life.
But do you think we taste of heaven in this life then, when we do live by God's love, even in this physical world, even when enjoying physical things, in God's love?
Is it even steps in our journey to attaining it? Is a progress not fulfilled in this life, a part of it maybe experienced? And maybe a taste of things to come?

#9 Anna Stickles

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 05:56 PM

Thanks Fr David, for the correction and the reminder as we approach Lent of what's really important.



#10 Anna Stickles

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Posted 15 February 2015 - 04:49 AM

Heaven is so much more and to never raise one's eyes above this world, this life, the "here and now", is to miss the mark.

 

Your statement reminded me of this quote St Barsanuphius of Optina

The earth is a place of banishment, of exile. For criminal acts people are condemned to hard labor - one for twelve years, one for fifteen years, and another permanently, until death. We too are guilty; we have sinned before the Lord, and we're condemend to banishment, to hard labor. But the Lord is so endlessly loving that even in this place of banishment He has left us much beauty, many delights and consolations, which are especially understood by sensitive temperatments. The beautiful things of this world are only hints of that beauty with which the first created world was filled, as Adam and Eve saw it. That beauty was destroyed by the sins of the first people.

Imagine a marvelous statue by a great master - and suddenly, like a thunderbolt, someone smashes it. What will remain of it? Fragments. ...Indications of the beauty of the lines are preserved in these separate fragments, but they no longer produce for us the former harmony, the former wholeness and beauty. ... But there will come a time of worldwide cataclysm.. everything will vanish and a new world will rise up more beautiful then the one which the first people contemplated. Then will begin eternal, joyous life, total blessedness in Christ. And it is for this blessed life that the human soul pines even now on earth.


Edited by Anna Stickles, 15 February 2015 - 04:50 AM.


#11 Leah

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Posted 07 October 2016 - 03:01 PM

Thank you for the link Anna Stickles.....much needed and very interesting...my mind had wondered into my old protestant mind set. Searching instead of being...






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