Continued thoughts on death...
Of course in many Christian circles the question that is whispered among very close friends in regards to a deceased person who perhaps did not attend church regularly, or who perhaps did not have a fishie car emblem, or perhaps didn't shout "Praise the Lord" at moments of joy, or perhaps drank and smoked, or who perhaps did not vote Republican, or who perhaps ____________, is frequently: "Do you think he/she REALLY knew the Lord?"
For with death, you know, the cosmic 4th quarter whistle has sounded and there just ain't any overtime available to straighten out sin vs. grace ties. You will stand before God and He will not accept your tears of repentence, He will not accept you contrition, He will not accept YOU! He will point at the clock of your life and say : "TOO LATE!" For you see, if you did not make that decision, if you did not make that choice (or for those who might prefer: if you were not one of the elect), if you did not say that "sinner's prayer" while in life, then it's off to eternal damnation you go!
As my alter ego in the Royal Navy would say : PISH TOSH! The question (Did they know the Lord?) as addressed in the past tense is simply nonsensical to me today, for the question(if we dare to be so brave as to even ask it!!!!) ought to be: "Now that he/she obviously knows the Lord, how will they respond given who they are and who they have become?"
I believe that we condemn ourselves not directly because of what we have done or failed to do in this life, but rather for what we have allowed ourselves to become. We can bathe in the waters of corruption for so long that when we finally do stand before glory we cannot endure it. What we do, or fail to do contributes to what we become, but it is not a surefire method of ascertaining to which of the two crucified thieves a person would be most analogous.
Hell, I have heard, (I believe from Fr. Hopko) is like a little boy who is told he can have no desert before dinner and the little boy becomes very angry and upset. After dinner, desert is placed before everyone and the little boy is encouraged to "dig in!" But he won't, so angry for not getting his way, he refuses to eat the desert even though it sits before him readily available. That is hell.
Of all the deaths I have known in this first half of the year, there are some persons who I am sure will "dig in" and there are others for whom I simply do not know how they will respond...we must hope that they will not have gotten themselves to the point of the little angry boy who will not eat. But, this is not for us to concern ourselves with...we must guard our hearts and lives (and those of our loved ones) here and now so that we will never refuse the desert ourselves.
We serve a God who is the "lover of mankind."
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:09 AM [+]