Unification Sermons and Talks
by Reverend Young Oon Kim
A Personal God
By Young Oon Kim
Some people think it wrong to conceive the supreme deity as a personal God and to imagine Him with the form and characteristics of man. Some theologians, metaphysicians, and spiritualists define God as infinite intelligence. For them He is not at all personal. Yet in moments of personal trauma, contradicting what their minds say, they cry out to a personal being to help straighten out their affairs. If their child is seriously ill, they entreat God to heal him. On the verge of bankruptcy, they beg God for financial aid. Anxious to sell a car, they pray that God will send a buyer. Moments of intense pain or recognition of unavoidable results cause us to call out to a personal God for help. All of us at the time of our need, picture God as deeply personal, but when the crisis has past, declare that He is almighty and exalted, unable to be conceived in human terms.
In Hinduism, one of the major world religions, the supreme being, Brahma, is a philosophical absolute, serenely and blissfully apart from all ethical concern for man. In reaction to this concept of a supreme being, Buddha denied the existence of deity outside the individual. He taught only that moral law operated throughout the universe. The third major Far Eastern religion, Confucianism, is called by many only a system of ethics because its founder also discouraged belief in a personal deity, worship, or prayer.
These abstract teachings are profound intellectual concepts, but they lack the dynamic power to motivate the lives of their followers. Radical change in man's life takes place only when he personally, with his feelings, encounters deity. Only when man's emotions are touched by the powerful love of a personal God does his life rotate 180 degress. Therefore, it is imperative to have a personal concept of God and to have a personal relationship with Him.
When you compare the scripture of Confucius with the teachings of Jesus, Jesus' words appear very simple. Confucius was a great scholar, whereas Jesus had little formal education. You can read any of the Gospels overnight, but Confucius' profound explications require greater study. Then compare the simple New Testament with Buddhist scriptures which are also deep and complicated. Why is Buddhism considered profound? Perhaps because people cannot easily understand it.
Jesus' teaching is very brief and simple. Yet his teaching raises man's spirit much higher and closer to God than do Hinduism, Buddhism, or Confucianism, or any other religion. In his simple teaching Jesus reveals the heart of God and makes God very personal to each one of us.
The Gospel of Luke (15:3-25) records three parables of Jesus. In the first parable a shepherd lost one sheep out of his flock of one hundred. In the barren desert of Palestine, people have a very low standard of living. One sheep is very important to them. It may not seem important by American standards, but in Palestine, one sheep was a fortune. I think there is something more involved, though. It is not the monetary value alone, but even more important the feeling of affection that won't allow the shepherd to forget the lost sheep. Leaving the 99 sheep and running back and forth over the rough and hilly desert he sought the lost one in every valley and cave. All his attention was focused on that one sheep. Seeing a light brown rock in the dusk he ran to it, thinking it was his sheep. When he found his little sheep in a dark corner, he was so happy, he embraced it ans brought it back to the flock. Brimming with joy he called all his friends and neighbors to share his happiness at his recovery of the sheep.
In the second parable a widow with only 10 coins lost one of them. She turned her house upside down to find it. Such a loss seems trivial to most Americans, but to Palestinians who have only a few coins to live on, the coin must be found. In desperation she turned over all the furniture and finally found the coin she had lost. In her gratitude she told all her friends and neighbors.
The last parable is that of the prodigal son. No matter how often we read this parable, our hearts are touched again and again. Jesus described beautifully the heart of the most personal God. He didn't worry about the righteous people because they could get along by themselves. All his attention and concern was directed to the one lost. In his life of dissipation, the prodigal forgot his father, but his father lost his appetite and did not sleep easily because of his concern for his son. Where is he? What is he eating? What is he wearing? What kind of friends does he have? All these concerns occupied the heart of the father. On the son's return, the father was so happy. It was as if he'd recovered the whole world, so great was his son's value to him.
This is the heart of the heavenly Father. Even without the rest of the Gospels, this parable alone makes Christianity the superior religion. What is the value of knowing the intellectual details of metaphysics, or philosophy, or religion, or theology, if you do not know this heart of Father, this love of God? No matter now simple its expression, the teaching of Jesus is the highest religion and revelation. Other religions have revealed parts of the divine truth which have enlightened the hearts and minds of people, but the religion of Jesus alone clearly unfolds the heart of the Father.
If we feel this affection, this love, this heart towards other people, then we are in the image of God. but in no way does our love match the depth of His concern. God's love is so broad: from His specific concern with our daily life to His overall plan for the entire universe.
In elementary school in Korea we read a story entitled "Parents' Heart." The story made such a deep impression on me that I never forgot it. A widowed mother had an only son. She scrimped and saved to be able to send him to a good school in another town. At first, faithfully, the boy sent her letters of his progress and accomplishments. These meant so much to her. Then the letters stopped. Thinking he was on his way, she watched for him daily, even walking to the top of the hill to see if he was coming. One, two, three years she waited anxiously for him. What could have happened to him? Had he been hurt? Had he died? If he had needed help, why had he not written? She would have gladly walked the distance, so great was her love for him. Finally, her worry and anxiety made her ill, and she went insane.
This is the heart of a mother, the heart of parents.
It is difficult to understand what you have not yet experienced. Many people only fully understand the heart of parents when they themselves become parents. This is sad but in many cases true. The whole purpose of God's providence of restoration is to resore the hearts of the people, to restore the children to the Father. Feeling the Father's heart is the key to your spiritual growth and to your successfully sharing the divine truth. If you fail in feeling this heart, then you will fail in your work. As you begin each day, pray to feel the heart of God who looks for His lost one with the same determination with which the widow sought the lost coin and the shepherd, his sheep.
Suppose a mother lost one of her sons. Would she remain calm? She could not be happy and unconcerned. She would probably cry and lose interest in her housework. Her whole concern would be for her lost child. This must be our attitude also. As followers of Christ, we are going out to find our lost brothers and sisters. If you think of our Father's worried heart, how can you remain calm? You must seek everywhere for someone to raise so you experience the worries, problems, and difficulties. Then you will know what problems your Father has had with you. And you will know the depth of His love and perseverance.
As you raise children you grow; as you teach others, you learn the Truth. And your spirit grows. Your spirit cannot grow in meditation. Nor does it grow through just reading spiritual texts in your room. No, you have to develop and exercise this Father's heart through actually raising spiritual children.
Although the Divine Principle is very simple, expressed in a single volume, it has introduced the deep heart of the Father even more clearly than Jesus did. The mightiest person is the one who is touched, moved by the impulse of love. When we are moved by love, there is nothing to fear. You cannot defeat a person who knows God personally - one who has felt His heart. He or she is the strongest, the mightiest person on earth. No one can change his mind. Nothing can trouble him.
To begin new missionary work [in 1959] I went to England. Alone in London, I experienced many difficulties in finding transportation around the city, and particularly, in touching the people not just intellectually, but emotionally in their hearts so they could change their lives. If I had not known God personally, I would have been deeply frustrated. However, I know what God wanted me to do, what He felt toward me and mankind. Inspired by His love and His will and His perseverance, I kept searching for His children. The wisest one in the world is the one who knows God's love and acts according to it. That person cannot make a great mistake.
Like all of you I have ups and downs in my heart. When I am in despair I often recall my first love with God. This brings me back to Him. If you want to be a wise person, keep your heart rooted in this love of God. If you want to be a strong person for good, you must stand on this faith.
God must be personal to each one of us and our relationship with God must be a personal one. We have something in common with God, and that is heart. As we feel pain, He feels pain. As we feel lonely, He feels lonely. We may feel for our own reason, while He feels for greater and deeper reasons, but the feelings of loneliness, of pain, of sorrow, of joy are all the same. We are never alone. We are always in His presence. Therefore, He can sense what we feel. If He is to feel joy with us, then He must be able to feel sorrow with us too. His heart is bigger than ours, but the quality is the same.
I want to give you this one thought: the key to fast growing and unchanging faith, the key to success in your work is to act motivated by this love. Unless you share worries and problems with God, how can you share joy and glory with Him? When we come back to this love, pride disappears. When we approach people with this Father's love, we forget our false dignity, false pride. When you don't have this love, you feel awkward in speaking with someone. You see yourself as a third person. You must be completely involved in that person. Like the widow and the shepherd, only that person must occupy your attention. Then you will forget your dignity, your pride, and all your problems. Then you can succeed in winning the heart of that person. This attitude of love is most important. For it is true that God cares deeply for you and through you for those you speak to. The almighty Creator is the personal God and Father to each one of us.
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