Elder Sophrony: obedience and freedom
Elder Sophrony tackles the concept of obedience quite impressively: he bestows a wide theological perspective by transcending the usual anthropocentric morality and narrow-mindedness. Obedience is a way of imitating Christ, the reinstatement of the consequences of the fall, entry into the secret knowledge of God, reassurance of a life in the Holy Spirit; finding God`s volition in our brethren`s will; a constant renewal of the voice of God within us; denial of human self-sufficiency
and confirmation of "new" divine ways. Obedience is the practical way, which has no relation to the pettiness of ethical rules and aspirations, to reach theological truth which is foreign to the vagueness of philosophical thought. It is the passage through the "gate" of our brethren to the glory of God; through the "door" of our spiritual father to the revelation of the heavenly Father. The experience of obedience results ultimately in the experience of the authentic freedom in God.
Only through Christ it is possible to know the kingdom of the freedom of the Spirit of God and then of the spirit of man. Without it the salvation of man as theosis is impossible. It is an imminent need that man offers himself freely to eternity. Then apathy, the highest spiritual virtue, may be given to him. While in this spiritual state, man can never feel superior to his brethren, or pursue honour, glory or even more so material wealth. The fullness of freedom comes when death is abolished. The truly free man can see God being revealed "as He is" and can say for himself "I am". This is possible only when one willingly utters from his innermost heart before God the Psalmist`s words "I am
thine", and before his spiritual father the prophetic word "Here am I".
Entrusting our salvation to an elder is a way of faith in God. Denying our will is a path to salvation. Obedience is a one-way road to freedom.
KEYWORDS: Elder Sophrony, obedience, knowledge, spiritual father, freedom