God’s Love Consumes All
It is good to remember that in Orthodox teaching, heaven and hell are not about places, but about relationships. God is everywhere, and He did not create a heaven for some, and a hell for others. We choose how we will experience the presence of God in the afterlife. God can not be absent from anywhere, and those who have chosen, in this life, to ignore God, will, nevertheless, be in His presence for all of eternity.
At the age of sixty-six (I can’t believe I’m this old), I’m beginning to see a thinning in the ranks of my friends. I’ve lost a number of close friends, a few younger than myself, as well as both my parents. I’ve also lost relatives whom I dearly loved, and although my faith has been a very important part of my life since early childhood, I’m aware that some of those whom I’ve lost to death, were not people who placed any importance whatsoever to having a relationship with God.
Although some of my Evangelical friends would hold to the view that anyone who has not committed their life to Christ, will be damned, I am personally comforted with the knowledge that God is a loving, compassionate, and merciful God, and that He desires all be saved. I rely on His mercy, and I trust in His ever abiding love. There is comfort in knowing His mercy even extends to those who’ve ignored Him. I believe God will take into account the hearts of those who have not placed Him as the center of their lives, and that if they love others, and put others before self, God will take that into account.
God’s love permeates the cosmos, and some experience His presence as blissful joy, while others experience His presence as a burning fire, and as emptiness. As to how we will feel about those whom we’ve loved in this life, but who have entered eternal life without a relationship with God, we can not know. We do know the prayers of the saints are heard by God, and are a comfort and support to even those who’ve died in a state of estrangement. We also know that our loving God hears our prayers, and that our intercessory prayers bring comfort to even those who have passed this life without having developed a relationship with God. Our role as intercessors is just as important as that of the saints, and if I must take my neighbor’s salvation as seriously as my own.
All this being said, I am not a proponent of the idea of universal salvation. I am simply sharing my heartfelt gratitude for a personal God Who has been merciful to me, a sinful and unworthy monk of over forty years.
Love in Christ,
About the author
Fr. Tryphon is the Abbot of the Monastery of the All-Merciful Saviour, which was established in 1986 by Archimandrite Dimitry (Egoroff) of blessed memory. The Monastery is under the omophore of His Eminence Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.