Meeting The Orthodox (Page 14 of 25)

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By: Fr. Thomas Hopko
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14. The Purpose of Life

If this is so, how do you understand life in this world right now? What is it that men should do?

The purpose of life right now is for men to become saints; to begin to share, right here and now, in the divine life of God; to become “holy as God is holy.”

With this as the goal, however, men must know that this effort is total. It is both personal and social. It is both inward and outward. It works within the soul of man as well as within the life of the world. And men must know that this effort, as a total one, ultimately requires a total self-sacrifice. It inevitably brings pain and suffering and perhaps even physical death. This is what “bearing the cross” means, and why it is at the heart of the Christian ethic.

The pattern here is Jesus Himself. There is no rule of Christian morality except the life of the Lord. The rule therefore is total love, the greatest expression of which is the laying down of one’s life for the other in obedience to the truth and love of God. The rule therefore is also nothing other than the cross, which cannot be “taken up” except by the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit.

This Christian view of what man should do is, at bottom, the fundamental morality for all men. Every ethic must be the expression of what is true and good. All men must live this way. And inevitably, when they do, whether they are consciously Christian or not, their actual goodness and righteousness leads them to some sacrificial suffering on behalf of others. In this world where evil abounds, the Cross is certainly the rule.


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