Unification News for June 1997

The Foot-Washing: Meeting With God

Martin Herbst
June, 1997

This is the first of two excerpts from the Sunday sermon given at Unification Theological Seminary, April 20, 1997. Martin is currently at UTS and was the church leader in Slovenia for the last three years.

The well-known passage in the Gospel of John 13:1-17 describes Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. Here we find Jesus and his disciples for a short while gathered together in one of the most significant moments in his life and theirs. Jesus knows his time is up but even at this late hour he decides to teach them about the nature of true love.

All of us want to experience love. Especially as religious people we are more or less supposed to experience the love of God. But the fact is that often we do not. The truth is that often, perhaps more often than not, we find ourselves incapable of experiencing the love of God, and since we do not feel it, we cannot/do not give it. The question we need to ask is Why? Why is it so difficult? One of the reasons so few people experience the vibrant love of God is that they are looking for it in the wrong places! This is why I have chosen this beautiful story. Here in this scene Jesus shows some fundamental lessons about the nature of true love which are common to all mankind at all times.

Lowest Possible Place

We usually reason, "The love of God must be found in God." And since we assume that God resides in a high place up in heaven, we strive to go up. Endless are the ways through which we try to promote ourselves, prove ourselves and even vindicate ourselves. But after having reached that high position of respect and prestige we sadly realize, "Oh, God is not here. I am now a leader and supposed to feel the love of God, but I don't. What is the reason?" The reason is that God is hiding where no one would look! Yes, true love begins at the lowest possible place. This is the first lesson we should learn from this story. In order to connect to the vibrant love of God, we all must make that internal step down, down to the lowest place, the most unexpected place.

Jesus exemplifies this principle by bowing down and washing the disciples' feet. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. (John 13:5) In those days it was customary for people to have their feet washed as they entered a house for the roads of Palestine were both dirty and dusty. But such a thing was done by a servant assigned for the task, not a master like Jesus. By willingly washing the disciples' feet, Jesus did the unexpected. They must have been astonished to see their master and teacher act like that, yet this was the very principle Jesus always lived by. For the love of God does not begin in a high place up in heaven; it starts actually at the lowest, most unexpected place. Indeed, he was born among animals in a country which did not rank high among its neighbors. All of us want to encounter the love of God, but we need to know this secret or else we will dry up, and our efforts will not bear fruit. We have to go to that place where we normally would not go and there miraculously we will meet God. By willingly and unselfishly embracing the lowest we will attain the highest.

This principle is also reflected in God's creation of the human body. After thinking a long time, God decided to place the love organ-the sexual organ-where? As close to the toilet organ-wastes disposal organs-as possible! So close that it is hard to distinguish between the two if you are not an expert! And even then it would be difficult! For centuries people have expected that the Kingdom of Heaven would begin in heaven or in a totally spiritual realm, but the amazing truth is that it starts here on earth through the sexual organs! Thus it was with almost brutal honesty and conviction that Rev. Moon, in his speech "In Search of the Origin of the Universe" (August 1, 1996), mentions the sexual organs no less than 27 times! Some of the dignitaries gathered for this historic inauguration of the Family Federation for World Peace where the speech was delivered were astonished if not downright shocked. They had found themselves participating in an event of the most unexpected kind.

To understand the deeper significance of this, we need to see it in light of the unfolding of God's revelation to the world.

What was God's central revelation for the Old Testament Age of Judaism? Of course, it is possible to come up with many suggestion, but we can put it this way: God's central revelation to mankind through Judaism can be summarized in the following words: "God is God-and-man is man." With this, a great problem had been solved, for God was now seen as One Being, not many, and He is personal and good. But with this great revelation we also find a limitation. For, although God is God, man was still just man, far removed from the presence of God. In Exodus 3:14 God answers Moses: "I am who I am." Here God definitely reveals Himself, but the deep intimate personal relationship is missing. There seems to be a huge gulf between God and man, between heaven and earth.

With this in mind, let us move to the New Testament Age. What is the essence of God's revelation for the New Testament Age centered on Christianity? If we were to reach a consensus among all the Christians in the present world, the saints in the spirit world, and God Himself, what would we conclude? The essence of God's revelation through Christianity is that "God became man"; don't you agree? In Jesus Christ, we find the love of God, the life of God and the lineage of God. Jesus expressed the very heart, love and personality of the living God. With Jesus' coming, the gulf between heaven and earth was bridged. God could now communicate with man in the most intimate way-not like a master from a distance, but like a father right here. But it is precisely here at the very heart of the Christian revelation that we also find its limitation. For even thought God crossed the bridge and became like man, we did not become like God! St. Paul laments, "So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am!" (Rom. 7:21-24) The truth is that all Christians struggle like Paul. Often we are no better than people and sometimes, perhaps many times, we are even worse. Today all over this country, millions of Christians rejoiced over the fact that God became man and they are right in doing so. And yet we see violence and sexual perversion growing in our midst. Yes, this is our great blessing and problem-that God could become like man, but man could not become like God.

What then will be the essence of God's revelation for the Completed Testament Age at the Second Coming of Christ? Again God will become man, but this time it will happen so that man can become like God. At the Second Coming of Christ, God's central revelation will guide man to become like-God, God-like in our love and character. John knew this intuitively and explains: "Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). The expectation that man will be elevated to a divine state is fundamental among Christians who are preparing themselves for the Second Coming, but we also find it among the hundreds and thousands of new religious sects, meditation groups and mystical movements which have seen the light of day during the last hundred years. They all claim that the time has come for man to realize his fullest potential, but their explanations are vague and repetitious. They have heard the whispering in the wind, but they know not whence it comes nor whither it goes. At the Second Coming of Christ, God will open up the way for man to become like God. But how? Through a supernatural rapture away from this earth God Himself created? No. By ignoring the body and just focusing on the spirit? No. How then? Through the proper use of our sexual organs! How provocative! How offensive! How barbaric! How completely unorthodox! And yet, how genuinely consistent with the human condition in space and time! For it is precisely through the union of the sexual organs that we become something we could never become on our own. We become one being, creators of life, parents of love, like-who? Yes-like God! This is the magic. It is through the unity with the only beloved one here below that the way opens up to become one with the only one up above.

It is thus inevitable that, at the Second Coming of Christ, God will initiate a world-wide movement to purify that part of the human body which was meant to be the basis of all goodness, happiness and life, whereas the dark, Luciferian forces of the cosmos will descend to keep that area surrounded by confusion, misuse and vandalism.

It is for that purpose that we see Father appear on the stage of history in the 1940s. Precisely at the time of the Second World War, when the Japanese leadership with Emperor Hirohito in the East claimed that god had become man (the tradition of Japanese emperor-worship was derived from the worship of the sun goddess, Amaterasu-Omi-Kami), and the Western totalitarian dictatorship under Hitler acted as if man had become god (see Paul Johnson, A History of Christianity, pp. 484-487, to understand the blasphemous nature of Nazism); when world-wide Christianity had reached its zenith and was poised for what became its descending, and the collective anti-Christ movement of God-denial and free sex was about to begin what turned out to be its ascending-precisely at that crossing point time, Rev. Moon appeared with the revelation which has the potential to guide all mankind to complete salvation and a God-like love. But due to established Christianity's failure to perceive Rev. Moon's authority and foundation, the established Christian churches found it impossible to take him seriously. And so he was forced to lock up this secret in his heart until the stage was set which was proper, suitable and fit for a new sharing of the message revealed to him during years and years of prayers. With a deep sense of gratitude to God and enormous conviction, Rev. Moon shared-indeed-shouted out his message in front of dignitaries representing the entire world at the official inauguration of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification in 185 Nations on Jan. 8, 1996.

To find love, let us remember that God's true love begins at the lowest, most unexpected place. That is where we will meet God.

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