Theophan the Recluse...Quotes...1815-1894...Russian
* "Attention to that which transpires in the heart and proceeds from it - this is the chief activity of the proper Christian life."
* "Mercilessness to oneself, readiness to perform any favor to others and the surrender of oneself entirely to the Lord with a prayerful abiding in Him - these are the creators of the spiritual life."
* "You must kill egoism. If you don't kill it yourself, then the Lord, hammer-blow after hammer-blow, shall send various misfortunes, so as to crush this stone."
* "Self-pleasing and self-pity testify that in the heart abides the ego, and not the Lord."
"He felt the call to devote all his energies to spiritual writing. As for himself personally, he wished to give up all his thoughts to God alone, Whom he loved so absolutely. He desired that nothing might disturb the complete communion with God that was so dear to him. And he left the world to be alone with God." Bishop Theophan, the Recluse of Vysha
"By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." I John 3:16
Here is a man who left corporate worship...a good man, a sincere man,...to follow God more closely. Not only corporate worship, but he gave up his job as Bishop to live the last 20 years of his life in a one room cell. He built in the corner of his room a little chapel where he held daily services alone. Yes, people did come to him for counsel and he answered from 30 to 40 letters a day. But something strikes me as wrong at removing ourselves from the dirty, crazy world of real people.
Isn't this what people do when they say "I can worship God better in the mountains or while trout fishing, or at home in front of the TV evangelist? People get in the way of God and me. People muddy the picture. Why should I deal with prickly pear people while there is an ocean of God's love to soak in? If I can just get away." Hmmmm, I think I have said the "if I can just get away" speech.
Yes, Jesus, got away. He left the crowd to be alone with the Father. So should we. But Jesus, our supreme example, always came back. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Mark 10:44
Jesus said to believers in Matthew 5: 13-16 "You are the salt of the earth...You are the light of the world...let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
So what do I do about Theophan the Recluse? I read the quotes in light of what is Biblically true. I let what he thinks and writes move me towards the Savior and His word. But I can not leave my home and my city and move to a cabin in Colorado because Christ's love constrains me to remain in the world but not of the world. I need the prickly people because I am prickly! They help to expose me and are used by God to refine and reform me.
I go to church...every Sunday, rain or shine, joy or whine. I face my own sin and the sins of others and I cry out to God "Here I am God in all my ugliness, clothed in Your beautiful righteousness, facing others in all their ugliness and yet clothed in Your beautiful righteousness. Now, I pray, let me face my church family with Your courage and love and let me forget about myself and lift up a worshipful heart to you today, no matter how my heart is hurting."
And I can hear the Lord say: "The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17,18
So there are occasions when being a recluse is called for. But we must always carry about the body of Christ to those God has placed around us.
We go up so we can come down.