The Words of the Spurgin Family
The River of Life
Do you believe that the Kingdom of Heaven is coming to earth? Every time we pray the Lordís prayer, we petition God for the Kingdom to come. We read the beautiful and hopeful prediction in the book of Revelation 21:1-7.
At the coming of the New Millennium there are hopeful voices -- including our own. Yet this time of change can also be viewed as a most turbulent and possibly hopeless time. I like to think of this as a time when Mother Earth is going through labor pains to give birth to a new world. Life itself is pushing against its old boundaries until it bursts forth into a whole new world.
If we have "eyes to see" and "ears to hear," we are aware of a consistent movement toward the Kingdom of Heaven. Itís hard to see and hear progress in the making.
Today Iíd like to go back to the word -- the Divine Principle -- which caught our hearts as the universal truth of this new age. I heard the Divine Principle first in 1966 and joined the Unification Church in 1967. At this time the teaching of the Divine Principle was far out on the cutting edge. It held such transforming power that people left school, gave up all their material belongings, even left families to join in the building of the Kingdom of Heaven.
We were all idealists and visionaries. We would give our lives to bring about a better world. The Divine Principle rang true for us -- and ring it did. In the midst of a sacrificial lifestyle, we wrote new songs and gave our joyful and hopeful testimonies.
Today, what we hoped for is happening before our very eyes: the Divine Principle is becoming mainstream; yet itís often hard to connect it to the sacrifices we made. From an historical perspective, I want to give you some examples of how these amazing universal truths have mainstreamed.
When I joined the movement 32 years ago:
example #1. Belief in the existence of God was being questioned everywhere. Time magazine featured a cover story in large letters "Is God Dead?" Madelyn Murray OíHair was building her own Kingdom of Atheists. Prayer was taken out of schools. Intellectual circles in universities touted the virtues of communism. And: the Divine Principle lectures began with a treatise on the existence of God. It was a time when the God of science had taken us to the end of matter. The only frontier was the world of the spirit.
example #2. Thirty years ago, spirit world was the world of the occult. It was scary and not commonly talked about. Today is so different: Raymond Moodyís book, Life After Life, about near-death experiences, became a bestseller. Reports on near-death experiences became commonplace. The art and entertainment world popularized the concept of spirit world. So movies like Ghost, Flatliners, What Dreams May Come and others made spirit world much more real.
example #3. Thirty years ago, the end of the world meant annihilation of the world. The stockpile of nuclear weapons in a world which pitted superpowers against each other made that fear very real. Christians still believed in a literal hell. Today the concept of a new age is promoted everywhere. As we near the end of the millennium, there are still doomsday fears, but the belief in the end of an old age and the beginning of a new age brings hope to more and more people. As the baby boomers mature, they take on new age causes: concern for the environment, interest in spirit world, interest in alternative health and natural healing, and hope that they can help create a world of peace.
example #4. Thirty years ago, communism was a very real threat as countries fell like dominoes to its Godless ideology. Then the Berlin wall came down and the Soviet Union fell apart almost overnight; the dominoes fell the other way. Weíd always wondered how True Father could so confidently predict the fall of communism: then it happened before our very eyes.
example #5. Thirty years ago, it was most unusual to see denominations and religions reach out to embrace each other. As ecumenism grew, the Divine Principle view of the unity of Christianity and other religions became more and more plausible. Where once it was on the cutting edge to hold inter-religious conferences, today we see religious leaders from the major world religions stand together to give their blessing to our own couples at Blessing ceremonies.
example #6. Thirty years ago, to talk of original sin as sexual sin was strange and shocking enough as a possible new explanation for evil that it caught and held many of our minds. Not so today: sin, the fall, Adam and Eve, are at times synonymous with sex. Even in China, some "sex shops" are called "Adam & Eve shops."
example #7. Through New Age spirituality, the concept of returning resurrection is mainstreaming -- as reincarnation. The thought that unresolved emotions and unfinished work may need another earthly opportunity is not so unusual, even among intellectuals.
example #8. In the 1960s, sexual abstinence education was considered "old-fashioned." Today itís on the cutting edge.
example #9. We see many areas where the providence of the moment suddenly becomes mainstreamed. When Dae Mo Nim began liberating ancestors, guess what? Time magazine published an extensive cover story on "how to find your roots." We go to Chung Pyung and discover the angelsí help we are being offered -- only to discover that everybody else is talking about angels, too.
Weíre no longer 30 years ahead of our time. What this teaches me is that a very small minority, focused on the central providence, can make a big impact on the larger world.
Is the truth of the Divine Principle reaching "critical mass"? I like to use the analogy of a fountain. To create a fountain, the water must be gathered and drawn in, then shot upward with force. However, it never comes back down in the same stream. It shoots upward and outward, spreading far and wide. To me this is like the conditions we make. We offer them upward with effort and force, but if we expect the results to come back down to us in the same spot, we are only disappointed. When restoration takes place, positive changes take place far away and much larger than our small offering. If we can see this, then our struggles and sacrifices no longer seem futile. It is in connecting the upward stream to the downward replenishment that we get into the flow of the river of life.
Our problem is that we often donít look for or see the correlation between the work we do, the sacrifices or offerings we make and the changes which are happening around us.
Why? Because what we offer for the sake of restoration has its result first in the spirit world before it returns to us -- multiplied.
If we look at Unification Church history, w know that True Fatherís original mission was to build on the worldwide Christian foundation Jesus made. We all know the stories of the many special conditions made by Korean Christians.
True Father created the Unification Church when Christianity could not unite with the next step in building the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Through this small group of believers (the Unification Church), the foundation was salvaged and the Unification Church became a structure from which to launch the worldwide conditions for restoration. The Unification Church itself is an offering, according to True Father, willing to sacrifice itself to bring about the restoration of historic mistakes so that the Kingdom of Heaven could be built. Think about True Fatherís life: he is a living condition. Everything he does, whether fishing, speaking, or traveling, is making a condition for larger things to happen.
How are historic mistakes restored? In the present we offer conditions to resolve the resentment created by historic mistakes, failures and hurts. But who has the resentment? The resentment lies in the hearts of sufferers in the spirit world. Therefore the results of our conditions are offered up -- they go to the spiritual world. This is why we usually canít see the direct connection or results of the conditions we make.
Today, at the time of the second resurrection, the accumulation of these offerings are descending to earth at an accelerated pace. Itís like a steady, gentle sprinkling of Godís truth and spirit, releasing the power to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
As Westerners, we have a harder time seeing this vertical process, which is now being worked out horizontally. Our logic is sequential. When thereís a missing piece (the spiritual connection), itís hard to assume the sequence. If we connect the physical and spiritual, we see the sequence of events and know that our earthly conditions or offerings do have value and we begin to see the results. So what happens on earth happens in heaven and returns to the earth expanded. Jesus said to Peter, "I leave with you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
When we look around us, we still see evil: wars, violence in schools, immorality; but when we look further, we also see greater enlightenment: concern for human rights, our environment, greater spirituality, and new interest in family values. We see the mainstreaming of the Divine Principle.
So what do we do now?
Some of us have become disillusioned. Some of us are waiting on the sidelines to see what will happen. Others are offering conditions, but counting our offerings out with "coffee spoons" and looking for direct response. We could say this is the eleventh hour. Letís run the full course. Here are some suggestions for getting through the "birth labor pains":
1. Be more conscious of our own lives. Make everything a condition, an offering, rather than just enduring and waiting. Give your life power by letting God use it for the highest purpose.
2. Look for the positive changes taking place. God needs our gratitude for these. Share your inspiration with others.
3. Avoid becoming ingrown and exclusive. We must always be careful not to carry those special droplets from Heaven back to the base of the fountain. Rather, let them nourish the people "out there." Be there to keep the river flowing into the larger ocean of humanity.
(This content is taken from a sermon given recently by Mrs. Spurgin in Seattle, Washington.)
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