A Map to Heaven

heaven hell roadsignJason and George were best friends, living  in Maine. They had long fantasized about a trip to the California coast, and they decided the time had come to actually do something about it.

Jason bought a map.
George bought a map.

Jason memorized the name of every highway between Maine and California.
George got in his car.

Jason studied the map so carefully that he could draw a copy of it from memory.
George started driving West.

Jason read travelogues by people who had been to California.
George kept driving.

Jason became an expert on California travel.
George actually made it to California.

So it is with doctrine in the Church. There is a difference between knowing it, and living it. There is a difference between thinking about it, and doing it.

A priest preaches a homily, and we agree that he has preached the truth.
And all too often, we pat ourselves on the back for agreeing.
But agreement is not the same as obedience.

When I stand before the judgement seat of Christ,
He will not ask me whether I agreed with the concept of giving alms.
He will ask me whether I actually gave any alms.

He will not ask me whether I thought it was good to forgive one’s enemies.
He will ask me whether I actually forgave my enemies.

He will not ask me whether I thought it was important to raise godly children.
He will ask me whether I actually raised godly children.

If you read the Scriptures, if you listen to the liturgy, and if you learn the teachings of the Church Fathers, it gives you a map to heaven. You are here, and heaven is there, and this is the road that you take from one to the other. But a map does you no good unless you follow it.

The teachings of Christ will do us no good if they are merely learned.
To be a true disciple of Christ, we must actually obey what He says.

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46)

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About Fr Joseph Gleason

I serve as a priest at Christ the King Orthodox Mission in Omaha, Illinois, and am blessed with eight children and one lovely wife. I contribute to On Behalf of All, a simple blog about Orthodox Christianity. I also blog here at The Orthodox Life.
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