September 5, 2011

What Will Be the Excuse of Our Generation At the Judgment Seat of Christ?

By Vladimir Berzonsky

This is the weakness of this generation: Christ is not in command. The whim of the individual is the absolute authority. How fragile our bonds of union must be when they are held together by arbitrariness and whim. Nothing but individual fancy is accepted as supreme. Reason itself has fallen by the wayside, not that it has been killed, it has merely died of atrophy! We have in modern times "no-fault" divorces, which means that no reason is needed to divide a family any more, only the caprice of our partner.

Is it not amazing, this culture we live in, with its "no-fault" divorces and "no-fault" automobile insurance, suggesting a do-as-you-please lifestyle that never requires an explanation? What shall we make of the petition in every Orthodox prayer service that implores from God "A good defense before the dread judgment seat of Christ"? Term is obsolete, a vestige of another day when people feared for their place in heaven, assuming that the Sacred Scriptures are to be taken literally when they speak of heaven, hell, and a final judgment based on our deeds and misdeeds here on earth. What defense shall we give when called upon to account for our lives? Perhaps we ought to shop around for a faith that condones everything a person does, where worship is not so much praise to the Lord as a form of testimonial to good people who come together once a week to celebrate their goodness.

Maybe we might plead innocent by reason of insanity, basing our case on the evidence that the last decades of the twentieth century were dominated by the conviction that this generation believed itself exempt from the rules of right and wrong that had been the governing dynamic of every preceding generation. We might say that we were a people above laws and discipline, taught even in our schools that we can do as we please as long as we are "sincere" and "true to ourselves". Will that hold, I wonder, in the ultimate Supreme Court?

Not likely. From the evidence of the Gospels we must believe instead that on that day Christ Jesus, with all due tenderness and compassion, will listen carefully to such arguments, and then declare: "You know better than that. Surely you understand at the center of your heart that my love is more than merely self-love. My command was not to love yourself, but to 'love one another'. That you failed in your sufficient time on earth. Punish you? No, I have no intention of inflicting any punishment upon you ... It is enough punishment to leave you to the self you love so much. Go now. Love yourself for all eternity. That is the punishment and the 'reward' you have earned."

From The Gift of Love, pp. 177-178.