Unification News for November 1999

God’s Heart

Tyler Hendricks
November, 1999

Here in our Japanese movement, there is interest in the question of America’s Christian foundation. I would like to put forth here one piece of the puzzle of America’s Christian foundation: the perception, the feeling, the awareness, that God is a person, number one, and number two, a person of perfect love. That’s the good news. The bad news is that most Christians have a shallow understanding of God’s heart and love. There are the saints, of course, those who delved into the "dark night of the soul," who cried tears when approaching God, who fainted when they raised the host to heaven to become the body of Christ. But the average Christian in the pews, like the average Buddhist or Muslim in the pews, does not dwell in that realm. Most of us never graduated Sunday School.

For Christians, God’s love is taken to be that of a parent of little and for the most part helpless children. The parent is generous, kind, understanding, forgiving and so forth. The parent knows that the children are immature and even sinful, but the parent is steadfast, forbearing and all forgiving. Most of all, the parent is in control—whatever happens, my dad can handle it, my mom planned it that way. He’s got the whole world in His hands; relax—God is in charge. And no matter what, God loves you. The extreme form of this is the homosexual proclaiming that God knows I’m gay and loves me anyway. God becomes the omnipotent prop for my self-esteem.

What Rev. Moon has done is not to deny any of this but to develop it and thereby add some needed sense of proportion. This typical understanding of God is appropriate for children, but not for adults. If God is our Father, as we Christians say, then how does a father really feel about His children? I mean, what parent is really happy with his son’s homosexuality? A perfect father would not be missing any aspects of the full nature of love. He would in fact possess love in all its dimensions, each to the fullest extent. God is a person of powerful feeling, of intensity of heart, of the deepest sensitivity. We see God’s sensitivity in the creation, in the minute charm of the babies of every species, in the little flowers, in the delicacy of the morning dew resting lightly upon a petal. Someone called it the unbearable lightness of being. But God also is the Lord of power, of thunder, of strength, of the mountains and lions. He would feel far more intensely than we do.

The biblical writers speak of the depth of God’s inner life:

O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. (Ps 92:5)

It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? (Job 11:8)

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (1Cor 2:10)

So if a human father has hopes the size of a pond for his children, God’s hope for His children would be an ocean. If a human father cries raindrops over the loss of his children, God would cry a typhoon. If a human father hopes his children will be successful in life, God would hope that each and every one of us would be as a king or queen of the universe, perfect as He is perfect. As the writer of Hebrews put it:

Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. (Heb 12:28)

Think of the moment when you experienced love most intensely. It quite possibly was a time not of the fulfillment of love but rather of its departure. That’s the way life is in this world. We appreciate things when we miss them; you never miss your water ‘til the well runs dry, as the saying goes. I think of the moment when my daughter had open-heart surgery. Of course we trust doctors and hospitals, and we were in one of the finest for this type of operation, but still it is an operation several hours long, opening her chest, opening her heart and sewing up a hole that had failed to close in her first few months. She was two and half years old and had no idea what was going on, other than that there was this stranger with plastic gloves and a mask on carrying her away from her parents. There we stood, helpless, as she was screaming, trying to wrest herself away from the stranger’s grasp, her little arms reaching out to her parents. We, standing without moving to help her, watched her cry in fear and abandonment. And as the door closed, we were hidden from her view. She went to her destiny. That was an intense moment.

A few hours later, we could go into the intensive care unit to see her. Her little body was loaded with tubes. She was so covered with instruments and tubes that we couldn’t even touch her. She was mercifully groggy from the medication. Our only consolation was that it was for her own good.

But let us extend to God’s situation—and the situation of many other parents in human history. What if it wasn’t for her own good? What if these doctors we bent on evil? What if they were using her for an experiment that would destroy her mind or body? What if there would be no return, no recovery, just endless pain? How would we have felt as parents? Watching the doctor, protected by armed guards, pulling her away from us, with this little child, our daughter, crying out to her helpless parents?

It was the movie, Sophie’s Choice, in which the Jewish mother had to pick, at a moment’s notice, which of her children would go to the concentration camp and which would stay with her and survive. Such moments drive people insane. It is a choice too awful to make. Did God, at the fall of man, have to deal with His own sanity?

Or let’s say, as another illustration, that one is with one’s beloved wife, preparing for a special trip. You are going away from the kids for a weekend, just the two of you. You are picking her up from work, and you have her luggage, and she tells you that a mutual friend is coming in a car and we have to hurry. The friend pulls up with his wife, and you motion him to open the trunk. This little excursion was not part of the plan, but he’s your good friend and it feels a bit like an adventure is about to be sprung. Maybe, you think to yourself, he’s arranged a nice hotel and a show. Our couples will spend a convivial evening and the rooms are all arranged at the hotel. So you and your wife are putting the luggage into the trunk, touching each other’s hands, hips bumping hips supposedly inadvertently, as your excitement builds. You open the back door of the car and suddenly see there’s a man there. It’s another acquaintance, someone you don’t know well but you are casual friends.

You digest his presence. He wasn’t part of the plan at all, even this new hypothetical plan, but your heart is big and you trust that everything is working as it is supposed to. And your wife slides in, and you start to enter the car, and the driver says, "Oh, no, you’re not coming. No room—sorry." And your wife pulls the door closed. The glass is tinted and in the falling light of evening you can’t see her inside. Your friend’s wife smiles as her window goes up and her husband pulls the car away.

Your autonomous nervous system raises your hand in a wan good-bye, and a million questions enter your mind. My wife just left me behind and got into a car with another man. What’s going on? Did she know it was going to happen? Was it a surprise to her, too? They’re coming back in a few minutes, right? This is just a little game, right? My wife—was she getting in happily? Is she having a relationship with this guy in the back seat? In short, your world is turned upside down.

Imagine that moment as the car pulls away. Think of those moments in your life. Those moments when time stands still, the carpet is pulled out from under you, and you enter into a fog. Questions, feelings come rushing in. Self-doubt—what did I do wrong? What could have I done? I should have done this, done that, said this . . . Too late.

Think about those experiences. We’ve all had them. Now, multiply that feeling a million times in intensity. Extend it beyond yourself to every human being who ever lived. Bring all the resentment you have felt to its ultimate essence. Your loneliness, your anger, your fear, your self-doubt, your broken-heartiness, your regret, your "if only"-ness—take that to its essence. Multiply it by thirty billion people and live through it again and again. Feel it continually, unavoidably. Remove any distractions such as food, sex, sleep or even friendship. Imagine that you’ve created everything there is to create except for exactly that true love relationship that is now destroyed. It is not only destroyed; it is transmuted into terror. It is as if it would have been better had you not created anything at all. There is only one thing you can do: through the pain, keep loving. That love itself makes the pain worse, but all you can do is keep loving.

With the love can come anger. The greatest anger would be directed toward the object of love who, by being the object, is the only one with the power to destroy the love. From this comes the motivation to murder. When love is destroyed, life has no meaning. But God did not murder. God loved the wife who betrayed Him. In betraying Him, she destroyed herself. She guaranteed her own misery and accomplished absolutely nothing. But God loved her in her arrogant self-destruction. God loved the man—the angel—who stole her away from Him. That angel, and the man who inherited his nature, pretended to love her, perhaps he even thought that he loved her. But under the feeling of love was a deeper selfishness, anger at God, anger at himself, and ultimately anger with her.

This is the fall of man, and it is the condition of the world. It is the condition that leads to the wholesale destruction of the people of Africa by AIDS and the young generation of the world by pornography and materialism. It is the condition in which we teach our children how to have sex in school. It is the condition one sees on the street of Tokyo, youths with money flowing out of their pockets, multi-colored hair and four-inch platform shoes, wealthy waifs giving away their bodies, sleeping in the streets. Tokyo tykes. Secularist materialism is more destructive than any atomic bomb, for it destroys the heart of civilization. And God is feeling it all, every broken heart. He tries to reach the numb spirits who have become deadened to Him, to love, and to life itself.

The task of God is to find people who will take on His agony and love others at the cost of their lives. He seeks people who will be so crazy as to let their own children go for the sake of saving their enemy’s children. The enemy’s children should be grateful, but they think they are not in need of this love, and instead of being grateful they criticize the one who loves them for his neglect of his own children. This is the suffering of the Messiah. Reverend Moon’s qualification is that he feels, he knows, he owns the suffering of God, and he has taken responsibility to alleviate it. It is the challenge of discipleship in this Completed Testament Age to join him. One realizes that we can never plan well enough, explain well enough, love deeply enough, support strongly enough, pray hard enough, to gain success. Everything finally devolves to silent suffering. In that silence comes salvation, somehow, as one continues to plan, explain, love, support and pray anyway. We join with God in His silent efforts. And simply wait. Jesus did not answer Pilate; he did not defend himself. He went up the hill without a voice. Reverend Moon speaks a tremendous amount, but of this suffering, he is silent. There are no words. We can all touch this suffering, deep within. The victory is to meet God there, and keep going.

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