The Words of the Spurgin Family
The Spurgin family. Front row, left to right: Hugh, Nora, and High (8). Back row, left to right: Andrea (15), Christopher (14), and Ameri (10).
Let's think for a minute about the importance and value of this day -- Easter Sunday. The two anniversaries that Easter now commemorates for us -- Jesus' resurrection and Father's receiving his mission from Jesus -- are both signs of God's incredible love and forgiveness. Without God's forgiveness, there would be no Messiah. Without Jesus' forgiveness there would have been no rebirth. And without Father's forgiveness, there would be no Blessing.
To bring the Blessing to mankind was the ultimate goal of God. With the Blessing we can finally be brought back into God's territory, free of original sin. But without the forgiveness of God, Jesus, and our Father, it wouldn't be possible to be freed from original sin and thus able to become one with God's heart.
Forgiveness is absolutely essential to our spiritual lives. Sometimes we fail to appreciate and understand the depth of forgiveness. I think none of us can ever truly know the depth of God's heart of forgiveness or the heart of forgiveness of Jesus or our True Parents. When you are around True Father, you feel the embrace of his big heart. Sometimes he scolds us, and you may think of him as coming to judge us, but there are other times when you can't help but feel the tremendous warmth of his heart, and you realize that Father's ultimate purpose is not judgment. His ultimate purpose is to show us God's heart of love. And he really has it!
One time I said to my husband, "I trust True Father more than I trust you. I trust True Father's love, because I know that he really loves me in a way that is beyond all human capacity:" If True Father asks me to go out on a mission, I know he really understands my family situation and my children and my husband and what it will mean for them. He is not asking me just because he needs another person, but out of a depth of understanding.
There is a tremendous depth and breadth of God's love in our True Parents' heart. To me, a primary focus of our life is to learn to understand that kind of love and ultimately to become loving and forgiving people ourselves. We aren't here to judge other people, but to actually develop the capacity to forgive others. That is one of the main messages that Jesus taught us.
I don't think we realize how much the fall has affected our lives. Though we've heard many lectures about the fall, we don't really understand how much it has blocked our relationship with God, because we're not aware of what it would be like to have a relationship with God without ever having fallen.
We don't know what it is like to approach God without a shameful heart, without a repentant heart, without a feeling that there is something wrong with us, that we have sinned somehow. We don't know what it is like to come to God completely free, because none of us were born in that position. Mankind lost the true child's position, so God has had to love us not as His own child, but as Satan's child. God loves us as someone else's child. Think about this.
When you are parents, you can understand the difference between loving your own child and loving someone else's child.
I had that experience when I was a new mother with a three-month-old daughter. I loved that child with all my heart. At that time, a group of wives went out as IWs. I was not asked to go, because I was already pregnant again, but my spiritual mother went, so I took care of her 18-month-old son. I was going through all the emotions of being a new mother and expressing all my love to my daughter, but here was this little boy who had been entrusted to me. Every time I wanted to express my love to my daughter, this little boy was looking at me, especially when I was nursing. I wanted so much to just enjoy the experience of nursing my daughter, but I could never enjoy it completely because I would look at the eyes of this little boy standing there watching. His mother had just recently stopped breastfeeding him.
I went through so many deep experiences in that time, taking care of these two children. I tried my best to love the boy. It didn't come easy. I would say to God, "I must make him my Abel child. I must love him more than my own child. But I couldn't do it at first. I just couldn't reach out completely to him. I have to say, though, that by the time his mother came back, I felt that I had experienced a point where I had loved him as my own child.
Many years after that, I went to visit my spiritual mother one day. Just then her son came home from school. As he came running in, I felt a mother's heart toward him. I felt, "This is my child coming home from school;' because I had invested so much love into that child's life. When I look at that boy, who is now 15 or 16 years old, I still feel, "I gave that child something. There is a part of my heart in him:'
But, ultimately, you have a very different feeling toward a child that is not your own. You have to stretch yourself to love that child. So can you imagine how God has had to stretch Himself to love us because we were not His? Satan claimed us. Satan took us away and we responded to him. Mankind actually responded to Satan; therefore, we are Satan's children. God had to find a way to win us back -- through love. He had to stretch His heart to love us in spite of the fact that we were not His children anymore. We were contaminated -- but God still had to reach out to us. There was no other way.
God had to win our hearts. Does that take forgiveness? Yes, I think it does. I think the only way God could win our hearts back to Himself was through forgiveness. Therefore, He had to send a son, Jesus, who in himself had a heart of forgiveness and reflected God's own heart.
When we look at Jesus' life, we see a person who had the capacity to forgive. He was in a true child's position toward his Heavenly Father, completely one with God's heart. He did not come to God with shame or fear, but was completely free and open with God. The complete love he and God had for each other exemplifies what we are supposed to attain and what we ultimately can attain with the Blessing.
I'd like to read the story of the prodigal son. This was Jesus' way of showing God's heart of forgiveness toward us.
There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, "Father, give me the share of property that falls to me" And he divided his living between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything.
But when he came to himself he said, "How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants"'
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son" But the father said to his servants, "Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found." And they began to make merry.
Now his elder son was in the field;
and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and
dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant.
And he said to him, "Your brother has come, and your father has
killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound"
But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and
entreated him, but he answered his father, "Lo, these many years
have I served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never
gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. But when this
son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you
killed for him the fatted calf!" And he said to him, "Son,
you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting
to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is
alive; he was lost, and is found.
Jesus, as our elder brother, could have felt similar to this 'elder brother when he thought of God's love for mankind, especially when he gave his life for us. But we have no record that he felt this way. Rather, we have a record of his ultimate forgiveness when he died on the cross and said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do:" Jesus' attitude was always one of forgiveness toward us for whom he gave his life.
In the story of the prodigal son, the elder brother was worried about fairness: "Not fair! I stayed here and worked all these years, and my brother went out and had fun. It's not fair." But the father wasn't concerned at all about what was fair. The son who erred still got half of his inheritance and, in fact, was received by his father with great joy and merrymaking. His father's desire was to rejoice over the return of his son whom he still loved, even though he had sinned. This is pure love. This was Jesus' way of showing God's true parental love.
We can only look at forgiveness from God's point of view. Man by himself cannot forgive. It's only from God's point of view that we can see the beauty of forgiveness. God's grace is a gift; it can never be bought. The shame that we feel before our Father God is shame that is generated from Satan. It doesn't come from God.
Let's look at the attributes of forgiveness. First, what are the attributes of a forgiver? A forgiver has to be bigger than his own personal feelings. He must be able to step out of his own feelings and look at things from a higher point of view, from God's point of view. A forgiver has to be able to love not as a child loves, but as a parent loves. A forgiver has to go beyond fairness and justice. A forgiver has to let go of his own hurts and resentment and reach a point of pure love. Ultimately, a forgiver has to be able to love.
What are the attributes of the forgiven person? The forgiven person doesn't deserve the love; therefore, he has to approach the forgiver with repentance. The forgiven person has to come with a heart of receptiveness. No matter how much someone forgives you, you can't truly receive it without an open heart, can you? You can't receive forgiveness unless you let that person love you. We have to let go of our own shame, our own guilt, and let ourselves be loved by that unconditional love. We have to accept the child's position and receive and accept the parental position of the forgiver. And we have to unite in that love with the forgiver. Only as we become one in heart with the forgiver do we truly receive the forgiveness.
Again, we know God only from the position of being Satan's child. We always come to God with some fear, with some shame, with some guilt. We don't really know what it is like to come to God completely open and free. We don't know that position because we weren't born in it. But because of Jesus and ultimately now because of Father, we can have the position of being a free child and come to God without any barriers. We are free of those barriers. We can come to God as a child who never sinned, because of the gift of the Blessing. That is what Father brought and is offering to us.
Rev. Kwak once gave us this guidance: "After the Blessing, we are in a different position before God; we are in God's territory, so we are now God's children. If we make mistakes, and even if there are many things wrong with us, we are still coming to God from the position of being His child. We are Satan's child no longer." That makes a huge difference in our lives.
I wish we could all deeply understand this. We don't appreciate the value of the Blessing enough, and we don't understand how precious it is to be able to come to God as His child. When we know God's love completely, we have no fear or shame. We may feel guilt because of doing something wrong, but God doesn't accuse us. He still loves us.
Rev. Kwak has emphasized that after the Blessing, if we make a mistake (of course not the ultimate mistake of falling), we can run to God's bosom as a child runs to his mother's bosom, and there is no Satan there. Isn't that beautiful? There is no Satan there to accuse us, because we are in the position of being God's child.
As a mother, I think the relationship between a mother and child is very beautiful. A child who really trusts his mother can run to her with anything and still receive forgiveness. There is no feeling of fear. When my youngest son was being potty trained, I had a hard time with him because he kept having "accidents." But I discovered that his "accidents" were deliberate. He would have one when he wanted my attention. Of course I would have to clean everything up, and then he would look at me with this big grin and say, "Do you like it, Mom?" Isn't that something? Wow.
I guess he knew I loved him so much that he could get my attention this way and still have the nerve to look at me and say, "Do you like it, Mom?"
A child soon learns whether his parents will accept him and love him even if he does something wrong, even if he does it deliberately. He won't be at all afraid if he knows that his mother's love is there.
I wish we could all feel like that toward God -- that we could deeply appreciate the gift that's there for us. God is there with an open heart ready to welcome us to His bosom, but how many times do we freely run there?
A child will often hide when he feels guilty, when he has done something wrong. Sometimes I sense that my children don't want to relate to me; then I know that they did something wrong. They don't want me to look at them. If you are a parent, you will discover that if your child has done something he shouldn't do he will sometimes sit under the table or hide behind a chair. He doesn't want you to see him because he represents something wrong. Isn't that what we often do with God? We run away and hide and stop relating. Instead of running to His bosom like an innocent little child, we stay away from God, and our situation gets worse and worse. We feel guilty and upset and angry, and bad things start happening within our hearts.
But remember that our Father has come to bring the Blessing, to open the door so that we can be a true child of God. We are not Satan's child any longer; we are God's child. We are in that position and can receive His love and come to His bosom without accusation. That is true forgiveness.
Rev. Kwak says that Judgment Day is really the day of the Holy Wine Ceremony, the day that we are changed. Our position before God is changed. That is the judgment. After this, we are no longer judged by God, because, as he said, we are now in God's territory. Up to that point, we are judged in Satan's court, but after that day we are in God's court, and God is not a judgmental God.
What does this mean -- being judged in God's court? If we truly understand God's love, we realize there is no judgment there. We judge ourselves, but God Himself is such a loving God that He doesn't have that kind of judgment for His children. '
Yes, for Satan's children, but for His own children, there is not even judgment there; there is only love.
After the Blessing, God doesn't feel pain over our former sin anymore, because that's gone now. God's pain stems from our lack of understanding that we are actually free of the barriers that used to separate us from Him. The fact that we don't understand God's forgiveness -- this is God's pain. God is like a parent who really loves his child but the child doesn't believe it.
If we continue to relate as if we were Satan's child, then God is limited in His ability to love us, because of our own limitations in receiving His love. There is no way God can free us if we choose to continue carrying a heavy load of guilt with us throughout life. We are the only ones who can free ourselves by our acceptance of God's forgiveness. If we always approach God expecting to be chastised, don't you think that makes God sad? What if a little child always approached his parent as if he were afraid he would get hit? How would that make the parent feel? If we always come to God like that, God can't freely reach out to us.
On Easter morning we celebrate Jesus' resurrection and the anniversary of our True Father's receiving the mission to bring the Blessing to us. We can only feel tremendous gratitude that our Father accepted that mission and lived the life that was required in order to fulfill that mission. Just think of what that entailed! But Father went this course of suffering in order to bring us the supremely precious position of the Blessing.
So, let's rejoice, not just over Jesus' resurrection, but the resurrection of ourselves. We can celebrate Jesus' resurrection, and our own resurrection, because of our True Parents. Our own hearts have been resurrected by our True Parents, and as a result, we can be one with God's heart. There is no barrier on God's part. The barrier only lies within us, in our capacity to receive that love.
Think of yourself as a child in God's arms, receiving that forgiveness -- that's your resurrection.