Unification News for July 2003
Volume One. Part Nine
In order to survive physically, each of us needs physical nourishment. In a similar manner, Divine Principle teaches that our spiritual selves need spiritual nourishment. Such nourishment consists of two components - the "Life Elements" that come from God, which include love and truth, and the "Vitality Elements" which have their origin in the physical body.
These Vitality Elements flow from the body to the spirit as the individual lives in accordance with God's Word and acts according to the principles of service and love. As the spirit receives Vitality Elements from the body and Life Elements form God, it becomes vibrant and beautiful. Reciprocally, our spirit selves project spirit elements to our physical bodies. A spirit filled with a divine ideal, hope and love imparts health and power to the physical self. For this reason, people filled with spiritual life often need less sleep and food, and generally have more enthusiasm about life.
The character of one's spirit self is thus dependent on the quality of his physical actions. If a person for example has wronged another, or stolen property or exploited someone weaker, he will inevitably be called to rectify such matters during the course of his spiritual growth. If one fails to right his wrongs while he is on earth, he will enter the spirit world in a damaged state. Jesus' encouragement to us to straighten out our difficulties with our fellow man before we offer our gifts at the alter (Mt 5:21) is thus not to be ignored.
Heaven and Hell
But, if one neglects to do this, he will be sent to "hell"? The Principle stresses that after physical death we continue life in the spirit world at whatever level we have attained during our lifetime. No one is "sent" to heaven or hell; rather one enters the spirit world at the level of spiritual growth he has attained on earth. We are the ones who determine our destiny.
The difference between heaven and hell has been suggested by one Emmanuel Swedenborg, a remarkable 17th century Swedish scholar and scientist who in his later years had an extended series of experiences in and with the spirit world. For this spiritual giant the distinction is clear cut:
The attitude that causes a drift toward heaven is in the feeling that there is a higher power...(and in the striving) to relate to it. This same spirit of humility and respect for the greatness of creation goes with an effort to be with others and to be of some use. By this a person faces toward heaven... The opposite attitude is to put down creation and elevate the self. The one bound for hell serves himself first, last and foremost. By this he is cut off from the opening-out possibilities of heaven and becomes enclosed in concerns for himself over and above others.
Love and Beauty
Since our spirit selves grow in conjunction with our physical bodies, our experience of love, beauty and joy on earth conditions our ability to experience them in the spirit world. Life in the spirit world is initially determined by whatever degree of love we have experienced on earth. Since, as we have seen, love is to be experienced most profoundly in the family, Divine Principle affirms it is through our families that we are meant to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, both on earth and in the spirit world.
Professor Charles Whitehead, twentieth century philosopher and theologian, is reported to have once complained that too many Christians think of God in terms of an absolute, autocratic, Roman emperor. Perhaps so. In any event, a special aspect of the Divine Principle revelation is its understanding of the heart of God. For Divine Principle, God's heart is tender, sensitive -- and grieving over a lost relationship of love.
Divine Principle underscores the fact that the almighty God is not only the source of energy, the origin and preserver of life, but also the Father of Heart. Man was to be one with his Creator, forming intimate relationships of father and child, friend and friend, lover and beloved, bridegroom and bride. However, as man's relations with his fellow man have been ridden with conflict, so have his relations with his Creator been badly crippled. Although He is a God of love, the Almighty God cannot express His heart of love as He wishes; He is limited by the capacity of human beings to receive and respond to it.
Judge or Lover
While for much of the Old Testament God is portrayed as a strict judge or powerful monarch, there are nevertheless flashes of a God of tender heart and supreme sensitivity. The story of the prophet Hosea, a man whose wife was faithless is a case in point. Hosea's knowledge of his wife's infidelity, coupled with his continuing love for her, was a heart-breaking experience for the prophet.
What then must be the experience of God, Hosea asked, whose love for us is so much deeper and more sensitive? In the most profound and revealing of man's relationships, Hosea found a metaphor for the relationship between a faithful God and a faithless nation. For the prophet, his own experience became a living parable of the suffering heart of God.
The truth then is that God has been hurt more than man. God feels crushed by the historic betrayal of His loved ones - as any lover would be. The injured heart of God, the suffering of the Heavenly Father, is beyond measurement and human comprehension.
It has been said that it is not so much we who seek God as it is God who seeks us. While humankind has walked a tortured and searching path through history, Divine Principle suggests that the same is true of God. The Lord's call to Adam, "Where are you?" (Gen 3:9) expresses an inquiry directed to all humanity. Ever since man's fall, God has been seeking His lost family with a grieving heart. Reflecting the difficulties of this search, Isaiah writes:
"Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: ‘Sons have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owners, and the ass its master's crib; but Israel does not know. My people do not understand.’" (Is 1:2)
And Hosea describes a similar situation: "the more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baal, and burning incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk. I too, them up in my arms, but they did not know that I healed them." (Hos 11:2)
On the other hand, alienated from God, humanity has also walked a torturous path. Separated from the love of God, humankind has hungered and thirsted in spirit. The Psalmist writes:
"As a heart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God. My tears have been my food day and night." (Ps 42:1)
"I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God." (Ps 69:3)
For Divine Principle, man's separation from the love and wisdom of God has prevented the human family from functioning at its optimum level. At its worst humanity's alienation from its Creator has brought spiritual death to man and has caused the sorrow and tragedy within man and the world.
Since the time of man's fall, many religions have developed in human society; to seek God through Jesus, or for that matter, through any historical religious path, is man's attempt to restore the original relationship of love with God. If man had not fallen, he would now be living in the bosom of God's love, walking with Him, creating with Him.
For Divine Principle, then, the central goal of the person who would be a mature son or daughter of God is the alleviating of the divine sorrow and the comforting of God's heart. This can be done as we realize God's hope for us, step by step fulfilling the three Blessings and doing our part toward realizing the Kingdom of God on earth. God has been longing for His children and they, like orphans, long for Him.
Only when the meeting between this eager Father and these suffering children is sealed can restoration begin. The Lord is looking with great longing to the time of reunion, the day He and man can at last become one, as was the original intention. Then the great suffering of God, man and the universe will come to an end.
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