“If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will [my] Father honour.”
John 12: 26
Probably many of you will ask what could possibly be the meaning of the words: “The one who serves Me is the one My Father shall honour.” The world has various aspirations: modern people aim at acquiring knowledge, wealth, land, houses, fame, grandeur, power - they wish for a lot of things. Jesus insists on one thing only: on one’s ability to serve. Servant - this is an ordinary word which denotes the lowest social status. But there are different types of servants - servants in bars, in a kitchen, at the theatre, at the university, in the ministries and so on. In a way, all people are servants; yet, not all admit to this. And so, there are two types of servants in the world: on the one hand, there are those who understand their duties and know how to fulfil them, and on the other, there are those who do not know how to serve. We usually call the latter rulers, masters, who expect others to wait on them, to serve them, they even teach others how to work and serve. Everyone wants to be in the first category - that of the masters. But the Christian teaching posits what is diametrically opposed to this principle - in particular, it posits the principle that whoever wants to be a master, has to be a servant first; it suggests that the Son of God came not in order to be served upon, but in order to serve himself. We are compelled to be servants by the principle of necessity. Someone says: “I am a master”; no, she is wrong to think that she is free, that she serves no one. In the very least, she is a servant to her stomach, it imposes work on her that is not always pleasant – to cook a delicious meal, to eat and chew well; otherwise, the stomach will not accept the food and will penalize her - it will say - “You have to serve me well or I will dismiss you”. Some think that only a master can dismiss his employees but the stomach can dismiss its servants as well. You should ask your doctor how your stomach reacts when it is not well attended to, you will then see how it dismisses its servants.
The ability to serve is a quality. Do you know how many misfortunes originate from our inability to serve! When a mother learns how to raise her children, when a teacher learns how to teach her students, when the people who are in power learn to serve the people - to fulfil its needs, to make laws necessary for its development, then the world will acquire a different appearance. The modern civilisation is put to a test: millions of people are summoned to serve in the army - some carry brushes, others fill the cannons with gunpowder, handle firearms, others hold little wires and stretch them - then something explodes, others take care of the horses – all of this constitutes serving. What is the fate of these servants? All these heads, legs, arms will be broken to pieces; will merge in an unrecognizable muddle. This is what people call civilisation, culture; thus, the people of the modern world say: “We do not need God - science will help us to advance and improve”. However, it seems that all it has taught us is to be tough, to produce firearms and manufacture shells. Yes, science has led us to this test - to conduct a dangerous experiment. And now we are tested by being commanded to serve - the world demands servants. And God requires it as well- Jesus says: “Whoever serves Me, serves My Father.”
We always seem to arrange our affairs, yet they remain unsettled - we fall ill and call for doctors; still, death reaches us; we build a house, appoint guards to protect our riches, but in the end we are robbed of them. Jesus says: “Thousands of years you have served this principle and now you see its consequences; however, if you choose to serve Me, you shall realize the meaning of your lives.” We have to serve just as Jesus came not to be served but to serve himself. People have to serve the weaker, the frailer; we must not select bad people to serve the world. Do you know why the modern society is corrupt? Mothers, who have to raise their children alone, let spoilt and ignorant servants educate the children and teach them manners and, instead of doing this themselves, they attend theatres, balls, pubs and other amusements. What could the corrupt and ignorant servants teach the children? No more than what they know themselves. Servants educate children not only in Bulgaria but also in France, Germany, and the United States of America - everywhere. I do not suggest that all servants are corrupt; however, the majority of them are, due to their masters. If the mothers were servants (in the generic meaning of the word) to the children during the full course of the latter’s raising and education, this would have the potential of changing the world’s appearance; the same applies to the need for a father to raise his sons. Where parents neglect their duties in order to enjoy themselves and confer these obligations on ignorant servants who have no knowledge about Life, there cannot be good results. Moreover, a maid cannot educate a child because she has not given birth to it and has no love for it; she will think: “If my mistress has chosen to amuse herself, why should I mind her children?”
I shall tell you what constitutes serving, what qualities a servant needs to possess: before all, she must have a noble heart, be sensitive, obliging, humble, and flexible - to be able to adapt to all sorts of conditions; also, she has to be hard-working and not lazy. Life is exigent and we have to serve it to the best of our abilities. When a modern tailor makes a mistake and fails to sew a garment correctly, his clients return it to him and he has to compensate for the wasted fabric and for the losses. It is the same with Nature: it gives us a fabric (Life, as it were, is a sort of fabric) and it says: “You have to cut out and sew this garment”; and if we are unable to tailor it well, it fines us. If we want to learn how to serve, we only have to turn to Jesus and He shall teach us. A servant has to be very smart for a silly person cannot serve as she should. Teachers, priests - they are all servants. If a teacher understands her vocation properly, she needs first to be able to see through a child’s soul so that she knows how to guide it through the realm of science. A priest needs to understand the souls of his parishioners so that she can offer spiritual food for their hearts. We have to possess yet another feature - great patience. Impatient people are commonly called oxen: ”He is like an ox”, they say. Being patient is not the same as being an ox; patience is a reasonable act - in order to be able to bear the external hardships of Life we need to maintain an inner balance of soul, heart and mind.
Look at the example of a mathematician who lived centuries ago. He worked for twenty years on some calculations and as he had written many papers on the subject which were scattered around his room, he would always lock his door. One day he forgets to lock it, the maid sets to clean the room, she sees a multitude of papers scattered around the room, takes all these papers, puts them in the stove and lights a fire using them – so, the room is well cleaned. Later, the mathematician comes back and asks:
- “Where are the papers which were scattered around the room?”
- “I put them in the stove, look, your room is clean now.”
- “Do not do this ever again” – was all the mathematician replied.
We serve like this servant: we gather the papers and decide they are of no value; then, we rashly put them in the stove. This learned man whose philosophical work of twenty years was utterly wasted did not act as we would have but showed exemplary patience – he did no more than tell her: “Do not do this ever again.”
Now let us say you were in such a period - your house was open; the servant then takes all the papers and one day you only find the remains in the stove. And when you find the house clean, what would you say to your servant? I can tell there would be crying: “God, am I the most sinful, why did this punishment have to be assigned to me?” And we think we are people who understand the Divine principle! We have to say as this philosopher: “Please, do not do this ever again.” And then bear in mind that from that moment on we need to keep our things in order – not to leave our room open to the servants.
Now, Jesus says: “The one who serves Me is the one My Father shall honour”. All of you here have only this world on your mind, these transient matters, you think of settling your family matters, all the problems which presently engage your mind, yet, you leave many important matters unresolved - your relationship with your Master who will one day ask for an account of your life. And that day is coming. Do you know where you will be in a few years’ time; do you know what the situation will be in Europe? You do not. The modern world will be well purified; actions will be taken to improve life. The people who are coming to the assistance of this civilisation have to apply Christ’s principles; they have to learn how to serve. And those who are ignorant of these principles have no opportunity of growing or developing. According to Darwin’s theory only the healthy and able can survive. Effectively, only those who are spiritually and morally sane will survive; those who are physically healthy will also make it, if they harbour the same inner moral strength. Do not be led to think that being healthy means being well-fed or being plump, even fat. If you spend all your life in eating and drinking, is this not a painful state? How much food does a man who weighs a hundred kilograms need?
I know of an English woman who would eat nine kilograms of bread; another would eat the bread and drink the coffee prepared for seventy-two children - this is a painful state. I am not against eating but modern people think it all comes down to eating. Indeed eating takes up a third of our lives as from morning until dusk we are engaged in food-related activities: in the morning we decide on what to drink, tea or milk, whether to prepare the milk with cacao as they do in Germany or with coffee as the Turkish do, with or without cream; we have hardly finished our breakfast when we start thinking of lunch, shall we have chicken or beef, how we shall cook it - with tomatoes or courgettes, if the meat should be chopped, whether there will be this or that; once lunch is over, we then begin to plan our dinner. Sometimes we are satisfied, sometimes - not; we keep changing our food constantly. Indeed eating has developed into a culinary science which some people specialize in. This is good but it is not the ultimate purpose of Life. The strength of a certain food does not depend on the way it is cooked. It is wrong to think that by adding more salt, pepper or butter, the food will be healthier - all of this only relates to our sense of taste, our mouth only benefits. In order to test the healthiness of a food we need to see how the stomach feels half an hour after eating it; if there is heaviness or the slightest indisposition, then our stomach is trying to tell us: “This food is not good for your health, I cannot give you the necessary gastric juices”. On the next day we say: “I shall eat more to enhance its work” until the doctors find a dilation of the stomach. Modern people live for their stomachs and this is why the bulk of their work consists only in thoughts and emotions related to food. The teacher while he is doing his work only thinks of his remuneration - whether he will gain three or four hundred and how much he will spend on food and other necessities. It is all about food and yet we wonder why we find it hard to rise in life as priests or teachers. We all want to be healthier, so we take care in what we eat or where we live. We all work towards the outer state of things but fail to consider their inner side. Just as our home needs to be beautifully arranged, so there should be order in our minds; if our body needs a hygienic home, our hearts need a hygienic abode as well. I do not consider a clever man the one who has an impeccably clean house but has no clean abode for his heart. So, when we denounce extremes, we seem to pay excessive attention to only a limited number of external factors while instead we should put our minds and our hearts first, and our bodies second. If this is the approach we take in life, we shall have God’s blessing.
Jesus says: “If someone serves Me, he has to offer Me his heart.” He came to Earth namely because he wanted to work on the human heart. What does this work consist of? It is the removal of the weed, the weaknesses in our lives. You have been Christian for a long time, you follow Christ but if he were to test you now, how many of you would pass such a test of patience and humility; if he gave you the task of not only solving a problem in theory, but also of carrying it through in practice; or how about a test on the other virtues - Justice, Love, Truth, Wisdom? Do you think you would not fail this exam? You know when people love you but do you love people? God requires us to love other people to the point of selflessness. We often say: ”These people robbed me, they took everything away from me!”. Did we not rob God as well - of all the treasures we find here on Earth? God is now here upon Earth and tells all his servants: “Too many lies and thefts, come along and account for this?” This is the modern European war - God says: “Account for the way you have used all that I have given you!” Many will say that the economic conditions have thrust this war upon us – Germany did not have enough territories and declared war. However, if Germany claims not to have enough territories, then what about Russia and the United Kingdom? So, the issue is not one of territories - there is something else which people seem to be missing. Everyone wants to become a master, every race which rises then wants to be a master, every nation wants to dominate over the others and this is why they arrive at conflicts. If all people were guided by the principle of Christ – to serve humanity, if everyone worked in a particular area and were ready to contribute their mite for the sake of humanity, there would be no conflict.
Now all countries are arming themselves in order to rule. We say: “How foolish are those who fight!” but what is going on now happens to every one of us. Take an individual household, for instance - two young people get married and everyone is happy: “This is a couple which will live in peace and understanding.” Two or three months later you see the man and the woman angry with each other – they have fights at home; the woman wants to give the orders but the man says: “I am the master of this household.” However, both of them are in error – there is no relationship of subordination between them: both are servants. “But it is generally accepted: the man is head of the family.” To be the head of the family is not the same as being the master; it is about being a clever servant and, as your wife’s elder, you should teach her to serve; so, both of you should be able to say: “We are servants of our Master, we may both end up punished but I will show you how to carry out this task.” This is an allegory which is reflected in everyday life.
Let us leave aside the man and the woman. Sometimes we are discontent, we grumble at ourselves; why? We say: “I have no willpower; I cannot do this or that.” Why would you have no willpower if you are your own master, what is the reason for that? - “I am absent-minded.” How come you are absent-minded, what is the reason, there has to be a serious cause, to what is this deep inner bifurcation due? It occurs because we have come into conflict with God, with the Great principle. And whenever a man is in contradiction with the Divine laws and principles, one feels these inner tribulations, this bifurcation – one’s mind then is at a loss, it knows not what to do but is overcome by bad thoughts and desires which do not constitute the true might of God and then life takes a different direction. These bad desires and thoughts are like a serpent which entwines and drains you continuously until all juices which can feed the heart and the mind are exhausted and one begins to feel paralyzed.
Do you know how bear-trainers make bears dance? They give the bear a little flour and attach a ring to its mouth which they pull to subordinate the bear so it is not dangerous. So, this is what we need to do to our bear to prevent it from developing dangerous instincts. Take for example all the people who drive themselves to madness in their desire to be rich: they win a thousand, ten thousand, fifty thousand, a hundred thousand, a million, ten million – it is never enough. They constantly accumulate riches – what do they need them for; this brings nothing to their inner selves. In order to gain even more, people have started to learn new ways of doing this – through magnetism and suggestion they can influence people, impact their thoughts and actions. Once armed criminals used to hide in the woods and rob people, nowadays they are in cities and have other means of robbing their fellow-men. They say that in New York three American hypnotists coerced a banker into signing a check for fifteen thousand dollars and he gave them the money. The ways to steal have changed, everyone wants to have this gift, this power but do you know what misery it brings?
I have given this example previously: an old fable tells of a man who wanted to possess the power to turn any item he touched into gold; he would say: “If I were to acquire this gift, it would be wonderful for the whole world.” An angel asked him:
- “If your request were satisfied, would you always be content?”
- “It would be the greatest happiness for me.”
- “May it be as you wish!”
And when this man went home all the tables, books and glasses turned into gold. He went into the backyard and all the stones, trees and everything else turned into gold. He thought: “I will no longer be a servant, I will be a master.”
- Woman, we are happy people!
The woman lays the table, serves soup, bread and they sit down at the table with their children, the man takes the spoon and it turns into gold, touches the table - it turns into gold as well, touches the woman and she becomes golden as well. Finally, he started to beg God to deliver him from this big misfortune. This is what greed and madness lead to. We could have this power but it would ruin our lives.
True treasures rest within ourselves and are not to be found in the outside world; they do not lie in our physical might. Man’s strength is not in his muscles but in that delicate and gentle feeling which can develop all other powers. God has so ordered the world that Nature submits to a seemingly weak power – Love. It is so gentle and delicate and yet it rules all. When Love enters a man’s soul, it takes him to pieces and transforms him. Take for instance, a man who had many servants and maids; he decides to sacrifice all he owns in order to do good to people. What overwhelming force could have such an effect on him? - It is namely the principle of which Christ says: “Whoever serves Love, serves Me”; this is the meaning of His words: “This servant shall have everything I have”. People seek Truth and Christ says this Truth is embodied in Life, in that mustard grain. If we have Love in our hearts and inspire Love in the hearts of our loved ones, of the intelligentsia, the governors, it will transform the whole world. The neglect of Christ’s teachings has lead to the cataclysm people face today. This can be compared to how butter is made out of milk: as if God has put the milk in the dregs - so people are in a similar turbidity; just like the butter is churned, so people have their struggles; the butter then forms on the surface - it will be used as food, the rest will remain a turbid liquid; so, some people will be a part of the turbidity and others - the butter. God uses both the butter and the turbidity for his good purposes. Now, it does matter where each of us will find ourselves, however, the faith of all of us has been decided - we will belong to either group.
Christ turns to the Israelites and asks them who want to be his disciples. Some of us say: “I am a believer, I believe in Christ.” Those who simply believe in Christ are mere listeners; however, his question is addressed to those who want to apply His law. If you could stop and reflect upon the words “I serve the Christ”, if you tried to serve the Christ a whole year, you would understand the great secret hidden in these words which cannot be uttered here. It is very straightforward but you need to have Light. Christ has to give you this Light - the conditions in which it can be developed; only He can give you this. I can give you the seeds but only Christ can give you the conditions for them to sprout and grow. This feeling of Love does not depend on our strength and desires but on this contact we could have with Christ. Some ask where Christ is and expect Him to come from the heavens. Christ is already in the world and the latter can hear Him. He comes in two ways; He has two faces; one is gentle “May you have peace”, and the other - frowning, with fire, guns and cannons. Now He is saying “Bring forward those who did not follow my teachings, they need to feel the bitterness of disobedience - they do not wish to serve Me, let them taste the bitterness of all their deeds, let everyone reap what they have sown”. As we cannot forgive a criminal who has killed a lot of innocent children but we punish him.
The Christ turns around and says: “If someone wishes to serve Me, he must follow Me.” And you say: “It is easy to follow”. We can then follow Him and call him “Teacher”, but he may only reply: “You do not say this because you yearn for my teachings but because you have eaten the bread and the fish and now you are full” He will ask you: “Have you helped any ill people, cured anyone?” In order to serve God we should seek not Him and should serve not Him but His smaller brothers. People request that God provide their wives and children with health, money and social status – this is what “serving God” has meant for two thousand years
And now he is asking Europe this: “What have you done for Me for so many years?” And if God were to appear, what would you say to Him? You should think about this: what it is that you have done for Him.
We cannot be calm as events happen which threaten the whole world. For us it is important to know which category we will fall into. Many of you have desired to see Christ; the day when you shall see Him is approaching - some will see Him close up, others – from a distance, yet others - only up in the clouds. This is why I am telling you: the moments you are living through are the hardest ones. If you harbour the illusion of achieving something from now on, then you are mistaken. This is the advice I can give you: during the little time which is left you should learn to serve God, thus you will be prepared. Do you think that there is still enough time, there is no time at all; there is no time for this whole generation. Children, old people, priests, kings - they all need to learn to serve God; alternatively, they shall not fall into the better category: they can be compared to the turbidity, for the cow has already been milked. Do you understand what I mean? – The milk has left the flesh and God is preparing to churn the butter out of it. The cow represents us. God has been providing for us for so many years, how is He to find us on Earth on His return? When a father comes home to find his children fighting, what does he think? - That the mother has not raised them well. Everyone has some conflict with the others, people constantly judge one another - ordinary people, citizens, teachers, priests, liberals, conservatives, extreme and moderate socialists; between religions, teachers and the sciences - there is a separation of views everywhere. But we need to reach and develop the conviction that we need to leave all of this behind, all that poisons our lives and at least for the time being to resign to the situation, to become quiet and calm, to expect humbly the great event which is approaching. Until now people wondered if there was a different world; the time is now coming when the Heavens will answer this question - if there are spirits or not, if Angels exist or not. Just wait and you will learn whether there is God, you shall see if God can reform the world or not. If someone does not believe, let him wait and see for himself. I will not argue now, the clever ones will know what I mean. Those who refuse now will have to learn it in the future.
Now this is my question to you: Christ desires that you all serve Him. Those who wish to be His servants will have to serve those who are suffering, troubled and sad, and give them courage. There are desperate people who wonder: “What shall become of us?” – You have to reveal to them the true path.
I will give you an example to finish off today’s talk: a traveller stops at one of the biggest hotels in New York, rents a room with another passenger; the former had the habit of sleeping sound. At night the hotel catches fire; the passenger wakes up and tells the other man:
- “Get up, the hotel is on fire!”
- “Leave me alone, I want to sleep.”
- “Get up, I am telling you- the hotel is burning!” - The first one insisted.
The other man chases him out of the room and again goes to bed. At last, when the whole hotel is in flames, they see him crying out for help on the roof but there is no one to save him.
So, I am telling you: the hotel where you are living temporarily is burning. And my advice is: run for your lives now because later, when you climb on the roof and cry out for help, there will be no one to assist you. When they tell you that the hotel is burning, put your clothes on and go outside.
Everything that is burning, all the things that have hindered human progress, will fall down and on the ruins God will build something good. Do not think that Life will end. An epoch is coming, which is greater than any of the previous ones and we may expect this bright future with joy. We should not be afraid of the great tempests ahead for they come to disinfect, to cleanse the world – so, we have to be grateful to God for them. We need not try to prevent them; and in any case we cannot prevent them – they will pass and will serve their good purpose. We only need to be ready - when Christ comes (for some he is already here, for others he is yet to come) and tells us: “May those who serve Me follow Me.“ - to follow Him. Will you follow Him or not? In following Him you shall realize the ideal of individuality, of the home, of society, of nations and of the entire humanity - for the act of following Him is the very purpose of human life on Earth.
9th August 1914, Sofia