Truth is My Sword, Volume II
by Bo Hi Pak
Chapter 30 St. Stephen
New York, New York
April 8, 1979
Bo Hi Pak loves to compare the lives of Unificationists to the Acts of the Apostles, and in this sermon, he does precisely this using the life, trial, and martyrdom of St. Stephen to illustrate a true man of faith.
We gather this morning to worship God. The worshiping of God consists of songs, prayers, sermons, the offering, and benediction, and another important part of service is singing hymns. You know from hearing my testimony that when I first joined the Unification Church, the singing of the hymns truly shook my soul. My dear brothers and sisters, today I would like you to sing that kind of hymn. You are as important as the person who delivers the sermon. Let us sing one more hymn before the sermon, "The Father's Dwelling Place." Let us sing from the bottom of our souls.
It is a great day shortly before Easter Sunday of 1979. The Sunday service we're now instituting will continue with vigor and enthusiasm in the weeks to come. Sunday service is our unification rally. I want you to make this gathering a spiritual volcanic eruption that will go out from this World Mission Center into the entire New York area and cleanse the city of New York, the nation of America, and the world in which we live. We have that kind of spirit and power. I want you to come every Sunday and worship together. I'm sure you will invite many friends, relatives, and home church brothers and sisters. I would like the youth to bring more friends, every Sunday, so that this New Yorker will not be big enough. Eventually the Manhattan Center will be the place of worship.
However, the place of worship is not important. The spirit is important. So today, we set the tradition of service. The Bible says, we worship God in spirit and truth. If we have only truth, it becomes philosophy. If we have only spirit, it becomes superstition. The true religion is spirit and truth. The spirit of God and the truth of the Divine Principle are the spirit of the service of the Unification Church.
When I read the Bible, the part that most impresses me is always the Acts of the Apostles. When you read Acts, you soon realize that you are reading your own autobiography, your own story. In the first century, the disciples of Jesus struggled through the streets of Rome. That is precisely the situation of the Unification members today struggling in New York, Washington, London, Tokyo, and Seoul. Same spirit.
Among the stories in the Acts of the Apostles, the one that always touches my heart is the story of Stephen, the first martyr of Christian history. I will share with you today the story of Stephen. Acts 6 tells that there was some disagreement between the Hellenists and the Hebrews. Hellenists were Jews who spoke Greek and had adopted some Greek customs. Hebrews were more conservative Jews who spoke Hebrew or Aramaic. The Hellenists were complaining that their widows were being slighted in the daily distribution of goods.
A Man Full of Faith
To set the matter straight, the 12 apostles got together and decided to appoint deacons. They selected seven men and one was Stephen. A deacon was almost like an administrator of the church. They took care of practical matters, including the fair distribution of goods to the poor, so that the apostles could more fully devote themselves to preaching and witnessing. Stephen is described as "a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit ... Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people." After the appointment of Stephen and the other six as the first deacons, "the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith." It seems there was a great crusade in Jerusalem, almost like a 120-day witnessing crusade in New York, and many people were converted, including priests.
Then Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Some members of the synagogues of the Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians and those of Cilicia and Asia "arose and disputed with Stephen." They argued with him, but "they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke." They couldn't defeat him in argument, so what did they do? They "secretly instigated men, who said, `We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.'" They were jealous of the Christians' success and didn't want to see them gaining power. This happened then and it is happening now.
So they hatched a plot. "They stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and set up false witnesses." That's what Stephen went through 2,000 years ago.
When you think of Stephen, who do you think of? I think of Moonies. He would have made a good Moonie if he were here today. What are you? You are men full of faith and the Holy Spirit. Grace and power. You do wonders and signs. Yes, you do! Washington Monument! Yankee Stadium! These are wonders in America today. Turning the New Yorker into the World Mission Center, a holy place to worship God, is a miracle, isn't it? What you do in home church is a work of wonders and signs. The outside people try to dispute you. They cannot withstand the wisdom and the spirit of Moonies! Can they? Impossible. So Stephen is my idol as a good Moonie.
We in the Unification Church are as successful in every way as the early Christians were in Jerusalem. The word of God increased, the members increased, even priests joined, and many institutions were established. The work spread all over the world. Then people, as they did in the first century, became jealous, people who are not happy with our success and want to stop it. It happened then, and it happens now. But today, what do we have? We have false allegations, insinuations, innuendoes, and lies against us. Actually, Reverend Moon is the Number One Moonie. Reverend Moon is full of faith and the Holy Spirit, grace and power. He works wonders and signs, and no one withstands the wisdom and the spirit with which he speaks. Amen.
Therefore, allegations are raised against us, just as they were against Stephen. They know face-to-face confrontation will not work. They cannot challenge us squarely. Fair play with the Unification Church will not work, so they use dirty tricks. In Japan, the communists-and there are many in Japan, the Communist Party is one of the major political parties in Japan-were the first ones to try to destroy the Unification Church.
They challenged the Unification Church. We responded squarely. We challenged them to come on public television and debate fairly. You state your point of view, we'll state our point of view. But the communists withdrew. They gave up. They knew we speak the truth and lies cannot win over truth. So they never responded to our challenge or came forward in a public forum to discuss whether God exists or not.
They knew they couldn't win, so they used dirty tactics, false allegations, and violence, their favorite tactic. But the Unification Church could not be defeated, and we won campus after campus. We turned lawlessness into order. The Japanese campuses had been ruled by communists, but within two years we took control and gradually changed public opinion in the country. The communists always use the same tactics. They always accuse you of the very thing that you're against.
180 Degrees the Opposite
Here in America, the Fraser subcommittee is a very good example. These are my own words before Fraser's subcommittee: "Jesus came to this earth as the son of God, and the world treated him as the prince of demons." 180 degrees the opposite. "Reverend Moon comes as a prophet of the living God, teaching God's highest moral principle, and now the world is trying to portray him as a man of immorality." 180 degrees the opposite.
Face it. They always use this tactic to discredit the man of God by accusing him of being that which he condemns. History proves it does not work. They could not destroy Jesus with these tactics, so what will it be with Reverend Moon? At one point I shouted out by saying, "Mr. Chairman, you are a liar. You alter this information which you created and you give the lie in the power of the United States Congress. It is the worst character assassination possible. You did this to the man who came to America to do the work of God and save, yes, save, this country from immorality. I cannot help but believe that you are being used as the instrument of the devil. Yes! Instrument of the devil! I said it! Who else would want to destroy the men of God but the devil?"
I expected him to be so mad, enraged, throwing coffee cups, and ashtrays. As a matter of fact, I expected, just as Stephen got the stones, I will get the ashtray. Good deal, I thought. And when ashtrays fly-I was fully expecting them-I would say "God, let it hit me!" Yes, I tell you between brothers and sisters, the story of Stephen, the work of Stephen was very much in my mind during the fight with the Fraser subcommittee. I'm sure Stephen's spirit has been helping me. I can feel it. You know what I really wanted? I wanted to expose the lies, the innuendoes, and the false tactics of Fraser to the whole nation. I needed a newsworthy event. The best event would be that Fraser got so mad that he threw a coffee cup at me and I started bleeding.
Then I had the best scene ever developed. I had three minutes. I wanted to stand up and expose the lies, innuendoes, and devilish tactics of Fraser to all the nation. Why three minutes? I knew the networks would never carry more than three minutes. So I wanted to keep every message to three minutes. Compact.
But anyway, Fraser was cunning and clever like all politicians. He would not dare make such a blunder as to throw anything in front of the public and the media. But then that was all right too. I had my chance to deliver the message.
Finally I would like to read one more paragraph from that day, the battle against Fraser. I said this:
Mr. Chairman. I know that it is easy and popular in the short run to persecute new religious groups. So it was for Nero, so it was for Julian the Apostate. But does history remember them for their social reform, or foreign policy, or human rights? No! It remembers them as the great persecutors in history. So history might remember Donald Fraser, if it remembers him at all. You may get my scalp, Mr. Chairman, but never my heart and soul. My heart and soul belong to God. The Lord is my shepherd, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for thou art with me.
That was my conclusion that day. I am trying to make a point here. Why is Reverend Moon being accused and criticized here in America of brainwashing and all kinds of things? Well, never mind. Jesus Christ was accused by the people in those days of preaching blasphemy.
You Stiff-Necked People
Stephen's trial began and he stood before the council, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit. He fought bravely. Almost all of Acts 7, three entire pages, is his strong testimony. You can tell that he had studied the Old Testament well. He went down in chronological order from Abraham, to Joseph, to Moses, and showed how the people of Israel has gone against God and His prophets. They had betrayed the spirit of God, over and over. He made a long speech which led to his powerful conclusion:
You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.
Here Stephen is saying, your fathers persecuted all those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, the Messiah, and ultimately that righteous one, Jesus Christ, came to this earth as prophesied, and now you have betrayed him and murdered him. Stephen was condemning his own people. You murdered Jesus Christ. Murder means taking someone's life against their will.
My dear brothers and sisters, this clearly shows that Jesus did not come to die. He was the victim of ignorance. He was the victim of selfishness. They, without knowing him, murdered him. That's why St. Paul said that the rulers of this age did not understand, for if they had they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. If they had known who he was, they would not have crucified him. It was already made clear 2,000 years ago.
And what did the people do? "When they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him." They couldn't stand to hear the verdict. At that moment, Stephen received a vision and said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the son of man standing at the right hand of God." The people went mad. "They cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him." They stopped their ears. They dragged him out of the city. They grabbed up stones. And they stoned him to death. "Pull him out, cast him out!"
In Stephen's vision, he saw Jesus, not sitting, but standing at the right hand of God. Jesus is usually depicted as sitting next to God. But at that moment, Jesus could not sit still. Jesus stood up, ready to receive the soul of Stephen. That was also a dire emergency for God. No one can see the invisible God, but God must have been standing too.
This is the message I want to leave with you today. Stephen received a standing ovation from God. The standing ovation from Jesus. Not just applause. God was ready to receive the soul of Stephen. Now we must ask ourselves, the Stephens of the 20th century, the Stephens of the Unification Church, are we ready to receive the standing ovation of Jesus, the standing ovation of God? Our deeds every day in home church, witnessing, whatever duty we have, are they worthy of the standing ovation of Jesus? Does my life make God and Jesus feel a dire emergency so they cannot sit still but have to stand up? If your answer is yes, I admire you. You are indeed the proud sons and daughters of God. If your commitment goes that far, if that is the spirit of Moonies today, then you and I know that it is just a matter of time-we can change this world and build the Kingdom of God. There is no power under the sun that can stop the surge.
This is why Reverend Moon always says, America thinks that if they stop me, the Unification Church will collapse. Oh, they do not know anything about Stephen. They do not know anything about religion. If anybody thinks that by stopping Reverend Moon, they are stopping the movement. Wrong! How ridiculous! Stopping Reverend Moon means raising up millions of Reverend Moons, don't you think so?
Father, Forgive Them
Stephen, shortly before his death, gazed into heaven. Do you know what his final words were? "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Lord, do not hold this sin against them." In other words, Stephen is saying, forgive them. Just as Jesus prayed in his last hour, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Stephen lived and died in the same tradition as Jesus. Forgive them. They don't know what they are doing. That is truly the epitome of faith. And we have such a perfect example of such a perfect faith: Reverend Moon. With this kind of faith, we shall become invincible.
Recently, someone in my office showed me a book about us-not a very kind book-written by an ex-Moonie named Christopher Edward. The name of the book is Crazy for God. I said, "That's a great title for a book, but I'm going to re-write it." If we ever have a chance to write this brother, I am going to quote from Matthew 22:34-40:
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him [Jesus] a question, to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."
If you love someone with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, do you have anything left over to do anything else? If you love someone as yourself, is there any room to do anything else? Besides, if you love someone with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, you're actually crazy about that person, aren't you? In plain American English, you're crazy about them. American English is sometimes very handy. You don't have to waste many words. So the modern-day version of the first commandment is: You must become crazy for God. You know today, we are living in a mad world. A mad, mad world. Everybody is crazy about something. Crazy about money, crazy about cars, crazy about honor, crazy about knowledge, crazy about women, crazy about sex, crazy about peanuts, crazy about popcorn. If you are going to be crazy about something, why not! Why not! Our choice would be, crazy about God! Amen!
My dear brothers and sisters, we are on the right track. The Unification Church can tell us the way to become crazy about God, so that we have no time and no energy to think about anything else. This is truly a blessing. So my dear brothers and sisters, let us obey the commandment to the letter.
I want to close this sermon with a story from the international leaders conference. One leader from Austria testified that one of his members in Austria was going out and witnessing every day and met a good-looking young lawyer, a very intellectual, snobbish young man. This young sister was genuinely interested in him and kept pounding on him, insisting that he must be interested in the new truth. Well, he listened very carefully, and after a few minutes, he shook his head and said, "No, young lady, you are trying to do an impossible thing. You actually are trying to change the world, aren't you? Don't try with me. I'm not going to change, and this world isn't going to change. The Moonies can't change the world."
Amazing, isn't it? I thought we had a pretty good reputation around the world. People know by now that only Moonies can change the world. Not by defiance, not by the bullet, not by violence, but by the truth of God and the love of God and by living the truth. You and I today are living that truth. It is truly a great honor and a great glory. We must lift ourselves up to perfection. With Reverent Moon guiding us, we can. We can achieve perfection. Let us pray.
Prayer by Bo Hi Pak:
Most loving Heavenly Father, thank You very much for this special day of service. Father, we want to uplift our hearts. Father, I want You to accept this altar, this offering. Father, make us the instrument of Your kingdom building. Father, we prayed about You, prayed about Your mission. We are loving You with all our heart and soul and mind. We are acting full time for You. Father, everything we do, the things we eat, the things we make, the places we work, whatever we tackle, there is a meaning behind it. We make the holy offering of our everyday work. Father, thank You very much for the most important Sunday worship. We are going to continue the worship every Sunday. We are going to make this worship like a volcanic explosion in New York and give the city of New York, 10 million New Yorkers, hope. Reverend Moon declared this frontline of our movement. We are so honored to become frontline soldiers. We want to fulfill Your mission in the spirit of Stephen, and in the spirit of the commandments. Love God with all our hearts and minds and souls. Love our neighbor as ourselves. All these things we pray in the name of our true Father. Amen.
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