In order that you may move your will more easily to this one desire in everything — to please God and to work for His glory alone — remind yourself often, that He has granted you many favors in the past and has shown you His love. He has created you out of nothing in His own likeness and image, and has made all other creatures your servants; He has delivered you from your slavery to the devil, sending down not one of the angels but His Only-Begotten Son to redeem you, not at the price of corruptible gold and silver, but by His priceless blood and His most painful and degrading death. Having done all this He protects you, every hour and every moment, from your enemies; He fights your battles by His divine grace; in His immaculate Mysteries He prepares the Body and Blood of His beloved Son for your food and protection. All this is a sign of God’s great favor and love for you; a favor so great that it is inconceivable how the great Lord of hosts could grant such favors to our nothingness and worthlessness.”
St. Theophan the Recluse and St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, Unseen Warfare.
As we contemplate the words of St. Theophan, our thoughts are carried to the great benefaction of our Lord, God, and Saviour. For in the verses of the Akathist to the Theotokos, we read:
Wishing to save the world, to this end did the Ruler of all come of His own will; and, though as God He is the Shepherd, for us He appeared as a Man like unto us; for by this likeness He called those of like kind, yet as God He doth hear: Alleluia (praise be to God).
Truly to our God is due all praise, honor, and worship because we love Him. We cannot fathom how He appeared as man, just like us! What other faith professed of a god walking the earth to dwell among its creatures. Not only did He walk with us, He became like us – He Who on the Sixth Day fashioned man in His image and likeness! And thus did our Lord, the Lord of all things, do for us, calling us to purify our senses and cleanse our soul that we should follow Him and emulate Him!
We are called, not out of blind obedience, but to be heirs and partakers, and as partakers sharers in the divine mysteries.
Imagine for a moment the unitiated reading these words! They would mock us!
They call us mindless as ones who are ignorant and uneducated. We are uneducated to the things of the world and choose to live as fools rather than to foolishly reject the love of our merciful God.
They call us slaves of a tyrant god! We are servants, but we are not slaves. We choose to serve our Lord with the express purpose to become inheritors of the Kingdom and to become deified. We do not serve out of fear but rather we serve Him because we love Him and we want to be with Him forever.
They call our God a tyrant, as a despot seeking to subjugate His people. We are humbled and in awe of the promise of our Lord, Who has called us to dwell with Him forever.
They hurl hateful words at us, calling us closed-minded, hate-mongers. We seek first the love of God, then to love our neighbors, accepting all manner of revilement and persecutions for Christ’s sake.
They call us hypocrites! In a worldly sense we are – we struggle to practice what we preach and acknowledge that we often fall short. This recognition of our short comings leads to contrition of heart. We labor to follow the words of our Lord:
- to be meek as He is meek
- to be humble as He is humble
- to lay down our life for our friends as He gave His life for His creation
- to be Holy, as He is holy
Yes, we are none of these things, but by God’s Grace and infinite mercy, we continue to struggle and see after our Lord as our daily goal!