I was reading this passage of a Sufi saint, Rabia al-Adawiyya:"O my Lord," she prayed, "if I worship Thee from fear of Hell, burn me in Hell, and if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise, exclude me thence, but if I worship Thee for Thine own sake, then withhold not from me Thine Eternal Beauty." (224)
I was wondering, as Orthodox Christians, do we worship God purely out of these reasons - fear and hope? Or do we worship Him because He is who He is (for "His own sake")? If we do worship God out of these reasons, does it detract from our struggle (podvig) and ultimate denial of self; placing, rather, our wants and fears/ambitions over the very figure of God?
As for hope of "Paradise," in the best Orthodox equivalent, I would suppose that its important to hope that we get there because when we achieve a theosis with God - we fully empty ourselves and welcome the blissful indwelling of Christ's divine energies. Consequentially, this "hope" would not distract from the selflessness at the heart of the Orthodox podvig, because of that very emptying we realize the full practice and embodiment of God's Will. Not sure what to offer for the hell/fear part, though.
I know these may sound like silly questions, but I've just been wondering if this selfless, loving devotion to our Creator is, also, ultimately at the heart of Orthodoxy (I'm somewhat new to the Orthodox phronema, so your patience, please
). Sufism is notorious for its syncretism and I wondered if, perhaps, this early Sufi saint picked up on some Orthodox monastic sentiments - whereby we note a possible parallel, should this "selfless, loving devotion" center be agreed upon by future posters.
I look forward to your responses,