Heaven Down To Earth - Words of Spiritual Guidance
by Rev. Paul Werner
Chapter 11 - Friendship
The lifestyle of most Unificationists affords us the unique chance to meet and interact with people in intimate circumstances. Such experiences may feel demanding and arduous at the moment, but eventually we will come to treasure many of the ensuing relationships. Time will pass and distance will mellow our hearts and erase some of the more unpleasant memories. Later, we will no doubt reflect upon certain relationships and experiences. We may even find that we thrive on them. When people grow old they always think about the past; in fact, many elderly people live almost totally in the past because that is all they have.
There are many sicknesses of the heart. The majority of them are in some way related to loneliness. People who are alone often feel a decreased sense of value and importance. From such a perspective, we have a beautiful opportunity to build relationships among people in our church community. We participate in many common experiences which create a certain degree of harmony. Our spirits blend into definite oneness because we share many of the same goals and undergo many similar adventures. We often partake of laughter or tears together. We call one another "brother" or "sister," and we are co-workers. Yes, relationships do exist among us. But there is a clear difference between a relationship and a friendship.
A vertical love relationship with God is essential, but we should also look upon Him as our friend and devote ourselves to nurturing our camaraderie with Him. At the same time however we cannot neglect the need we have for horizontal relationships. If we develop true friends who will stick with us through the lean as well as the rich times, we will not be so lonely.
Unificationists live within a garden of beautiful people. But have we stopped long enough to smell the different fragrances of the roses, the lilacs, or the marigolds? If we really take the time to watch, they will bloom in front of our eyes. We have only to pick those we want to cultivate as friends and transplant them into the fertile soil of love within the garden of our hearts. When we water and tend them, they become the kind of friends who will never abandon us.
Friends are like crystals or jewels. They are to be treasured. Just as you put jewels in a safe, keep your friendships deep within the safe of your heart. As with real gems, occasionally you will need to take them out and polish them. When you see your friend glisten in the light of your love, you will feel joyful and happy. That is the nature of friendship. Unfortunately, people have not unearthed very many jewels in their lives, and consequently there is a great deal of vacant space in their hearts.
Only a few people have genuine diamonds and precious stones. Those individuals had to spend a considerable amount of money to obtain them. Likewise, how can anyone expect to acquire friends without paying? You have to give something in order to receive a friend. Your trust and respect are part of the payment and when you finally give away your love, you secure the deal.
Why is it so important for every person to have at least one friend? Each one of us has an absolute need for give and take. Without it, no energy or love can be created. A person who is isolated from society and other people, sits on the sidelines of life and eventually dies inwardly. He may become depressed and retreat step by step. He may feel he is no longer worth loving and lose the inner strength to give out any love from his own storehouse. Eventually he may become a hermit, despondent and desolate. Yet if he had even one friend, the spark of life within him would not flicker and die. His friend would reestablish his value as a human being. And he could receive the gift of love from someone who called him "friend."
To create harmony in a friendship takes quite a bit of effort from both sides. Nothing comes by itself. The quickest way to become a friend and to have a friend is to give the highest asset you possess-your heart. If you bring a person close to God enabling him to feel, see, and experience Him, that person will be your friend for life.
The highest level of friendship can be extended between brothers and sisters. They are often ready to offer their lives for one another. The men and women in our movement should strive to become true friends. Because of our True Parents, we consider ourselves a family. Calling someone a "brother" or "sister" indicates a flesh and blood relationship; it is almost as if we are engrafted to one another.
God could be considered a friend. Friends must come to understand each other. This may take some effort, time, and more than a dash of patience. But when you make that effort, you will discover what a great friend you have in God. However, the first step is to come to understand Him. Learning to understand someone is the basis for respect because you begin to acknowledge each other's value. If you really disclose the marvels of God, you will come to love Him and even offer your life for Him. But when you come to that point, you will realize that He has already done that for you many times. Heavenly Father and the Messiah are undoubtedly the best friends any of us could ever have.
Sometimes we act like murderers toward each other. If we became more sensitive, we would not unconsciously hurt so many people. Sometimes we say and do things that offend others or open wounds that were in the process of healing. We may not mean to do these things, but nevertheless our love is still imperfect and it happens.
If we want to have friends, we have to become keenly aware of and sensitive to the needs of others. This involves becoming a servant before becoming a friend. We need to start at the bottom, but eventually we will reach the summit. Friendship always develops and matures, even after it is established; it does not stay static but changes as do the participants. A relationship of love takes a tremendous amount of effort and sacrifice. The most supreme love is unreserved and unlimited in essence. Unconditional friendship is governed by unconditional love.
Everyone feels an innate need for friends. We want to share our lives and relate with other people. Loneliness is devastating. We are lonely because we are severed from God. If that relationship is restored, the loneliness will disappear. Once we open our hearts, God will also love us through our horizontal relationships and friendships.
Once you are married, you will discover how wonderful it is to have a partner. At the beginning, everything is new and exciting but even after a few months you will realize that you require more than just your spouse. You will find that you need your brothers and sisters as well as real friends. You need people you can trust and to whom you can turn. You will discover that you need people who will stand in for you, just as you willingly support them.
Although people may have many acquaintances, few people have true friends. A true friend is someone with whom it is possible to exchange certain ideas and unload any problem, yet be assured that what was discussed will be kept in absolute confidence. We all need this kind of friend. Recognizing the qualities we yearn for in a friend will motivate us to become a true friend ourselves.
Since true friends are relatively rare, you should be sure to treat yours with tenderness and care. If you find a friend, treasure him. Make sure that you do not neglect him or take him for granted: love him because he is priceless.
Calling each other "brother" and sister" is a beautiful gesture, yet I believe we achieve true brotherhood or sisterhood only when we become friends. I think the word "friend" needs to be understood as a person who would give his life for another. If he can do that, he will also be able to undertake any less demanding task.
Who has a friend? We all have a friend in Jesus because he gave his life for each one of us. Father, through his sacrifices and by interceding on our behalf, also has become a friend and has opened an entirely new world for us. Although the majority of people in this world long for love and friends, most do not think so deeply about developing relationships. Unificationists take the definitions for unconditional love, the need for give and take, etc. from the Principle. However, without the aid of such an ideology, those terms might be impossible for others to grasp. Many people would probably be willing to pay incredible amounts of money and even make many kinds of sacrifices in order to attain the knowledge contained in the Principle and to acquire such friends as we have found within our movement.
There is much more to friendship than being friendly to one another. Sometimes the concept of friendliness is misunderstood and equated with that of permissiveness. According to my understanding, the two are not synonymous. A true friend would point out that you have indeed made an error. His motivation however is crucial; tenderness and deep love must emanate through whatever words he speaks. A person who loves or respects you or is friendly to you is not automatically your friend. If he lets you commit sin, he is more an enemy than a true friend.
The word "sacrifice" definitely enters the arena of friendship. A true friend is a person who is willing to sacrifice his whole life, his time, and his family for another.
Satan stole and misused so many precious godly words. For instance, in today's society the word "love" has become so cheap and commonplace. We desire to experience true love, but first must define it according to God's standard. "Friendship" too is a term that has been abused by Satan and now conforms to his code of ethics. In order to repossess and use it, we must first observe God's pattern of sacrificial love and the kind of friendship He displays to us.
We each create our own environment. We decide whether we will make it beautiful or shabby. We also select our own friends, and naturally do not make friends with everyone. If our friends embrace certain morals and ideals, we probably advocate a similar set of beliefs. Yet if our friends become more loose or even immoral, we may not feel able to pull away from them or their influence because we desire the security they offer. But it is important to disassociate ourselves from evil people. Rather than suffer personal decline by staying with people who might influence us in a negative way, we should become strong enough to break from them and look for a new environment. It can be done.
Every human being requires comrades, friends, brothers and sisters in the real sense. When you find yourself in danger or in need, you will truly be able to appreciate a friend. If you are in a war, in prison, or if you experience calamities in your family life, the most beautiful thing is to be able to rely on true friends. If you have to rely totally upon yourself, you may feel hopeless.
A true friend can only emerge from a relationship that has been tested. By the time you call someone a friend you have evaluated him and discovered his value which either corresponds to your own or satisfies your longing. One philosopher said, "Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are."
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