There is no need for God to judge us. We will judge ourselves. We choose whether or not we want to be saved.
Our loving God created us to be saved and for no other reason. He wants nothing other than for us to share eternity with Him in His Kingdom. Why would He push anyone away?
Think of the story of the prodigal son. He chooses to leave his father’s loving home. He leaves, isn’t able to resist sin, but then he comes back, because “he came to himself” (Lk 15:17). Now all is forgiven. He is given his princely ring, dressed in the best princely clothes, and everyone began to celebrate. All of this symbolises that he is once again made a citizen of Paradise, an heir of the heavenly Kingdom.
Why is he forgiven, after all that he has done? Because the father loved him: God loves us no matter what we think or do. The repentance and return serve to remould his heart so that he wants and can accept the father’s love and forgiveness. This is the key to salvation – wanting it and being in a condition to be able to accept it.
Just because God loves us and salvation is free, it does not mean that everyone will be with God for eternity. The prodigal son is saved because he is actually able to receive the father’s love. He wants to be saved. He loves the father. He misses his father’s love and desperately wants to reconnect. He judges himself as unworthy, but still desires connection with God, with love, with life and with the light.
The other son in that story, the one who never ran away, who never stopped working, who thinks he never did a wrong thing, is also invited in to the celebration. However, he judges himself as being unable to enter the celebration (heaven). He knows that he should enter, but he does not want to enter. His heart is angry and dark. He wants no connection with the father or his brother. The father forgives him and invites him again, but this son is already burning in his own hell! He hates his father and hates his brother. He cannot even bring himself to use their names; he calls them “You!” and “Your son!” instead of “my Father” and “my brother”. He knows he should be in the celebration and he also knows that his hateful black heart will not allow him to enter. He is burning up! And he blames his father for this because He shows so much love to the prodigal son and now to him, without distinction!
Why is he out? Not because his loving father judged him or pushed him away. He is out because he had no real relationship with the father to begin with and his heart stopped him from entering.
Our Father in Heaven stands before the gates of Paradise and opens His embrace to all. Some of us will run to Him and others will run from Him.
† Fr N. S.
Source: February – March 2016 Lychnos Edition