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God of Near and Far

07/12/20 Rom. 12:18 So far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. It is stating the obvious to point out that there are many regions in the world where there is ‘dis-ease’, conflicts, or challenges … use whatever word that suits you, but it is kind of off the path of peace. Things are not flowing smoothly. There are spots within our government that could be described as ‘needing improvement’. There are probably areas within our own inner circle, with our friends and family and affairs, where there are ‘opportunities for growth’. To put it plainly, we don’t seem to be getting along well - at many different levels. Most of us understand that a pendulum moves back and forth; it never stays still. But there are times when it seems like certain groups of people are trying to force it to come back the other direction while still others are trying to force it to stay where it is. We have forgotten how things are: that life and philosophy and sentiments and opinions are fluid; they are constantly changing, evolving, and transforming. Even when the pendulum moves back to point A, where we want it, it is not the same pendulum that left point A. It has undergone changes; it has been influenced by its journey. But there is only one pendulum and only one clock, and it is that consistent predictable movement of the pendulum that enables the clock to perform its function.

Life is like that; government is like that; society is like that, and relationships are like that. Everything is growing, vibrating, changing, evolving, and transforming. It is this growth and movement that allows us to perform our function – our service to the Will of God. If we cannot change and respond to God’s nudges and guidance, Spirit cannot use us to fullest advantage. If we cannot balance our spiritual and human natures, we cannot be the effective co-creator that God wants. We are still loved; those things are not connected. It’s just that unless we can normalize or balance our natures, heal any divisions within us, and bring to the world all that we are spiritually, mentally and physically, we are impeding the expression of Christ into Creation. From Jeremiah 23:23, “Am I only a God who is near, says the Lord, and not a God at a distance?” God influences us from near and far, from within and without. Every week we state, “Wherever we are, God is, and all is well.” God will whisper to us intimately, quietly, so close we cannot discern our own selves from the still small voice that loves and guides us. Simultaneously, God watches us from a distance, allowing us the space to grow and transform as we assimilate the quiet inner nudges of love and guidance. Isaiah 57:19 states: "Peace, peace, to the far and to the near." The Christian explanation is that the peace of God is with those near or far away. The Jewish explanation is that the peace of God’s nature is with us, both the ‘near’ and the ‘far’ nature. The near aspect depicts the love and the close constancy we feel from God, and the endless attention and care. The ‘far’ nature is the awe of God and the distance we feel from the mind of God, that infinite, incomprehensible Being, beyond our understanding. Spirit is constantly washing over and through us, cleansing us of disorder, affliction, and inefficiency in how we respond to all areas of our lives, including how we respond and react to what is happening in the world, with the government, our society, and our relationships. If there is ‘dis-ease’ at any level, there is ineffectiveness. When I refer to ‘dis-ease’ I am not referring to disagreement. Conflict will always exist, but combat is optional. We will disagree, have various opinions and perspectives; this is healthy, but division is a choice. “Responsible dissent is the essence of democracy,” said Abigail McCarthy. It is also the essence of progress and growth. To square off against our limitations and false beliefs and seek the counsel of Spirit is to allow the transformation of ourselves through the renewing of our minds. But when fear, intolerance, the lust for power, and the need to be right supplant love and good sense, the result is almost always hatred, oppression, distrust, and division, in other words ‘dis-ease’. When we live from a position of fear and self-centeredness, we no longer look upon others with temperance or respect. Instead, we distrust them and see them as a threat. We can no longer hear the whisper of God; that still small voice is obliterated by the sounds of the world. Cooperation asks the ego? Rubbish! Negotiation and compromise? No way. The effects of greed, the desire for power, control, and supremacy over others thwarts any chance for Spirit to move through us. So, instead of being the type of person who is the first to reach out to others in need, we stall; we hold back. We divide, and it becomes ‘those people’ instead of ‘us’. We whine about oppression when Spirit tries to teach us through inconvenience the lessons of patience and perspective. We cannot hear Spirit’s whispers for unity because of the tantrums of the small self. The Bible describes these people in Jude 1:1-19: These people are grumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag loudly about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want. 17But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted. 18They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. 19These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them. The Bible is also clear about how to treat divisive people. In Titus 3:10-11 we read: As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Then in Romans 16: 17-18 -- I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. We have these types of people in our lives, some close and some distant. These are the types of people we want to love from a distance. We live in a world where some people either intentionally, or unthinkingly, attempt to divide us with their words, attitudes, and behaviors. There will be disagreements, but there is no division until we allow it within our own minds and hearts. All division is man-made and not of God. In God, there is only oneness. There may be disagreement, but there is oneness above the lower level of ego where the disagreements occur. If someone’s words are describing an ‘us against them’ attitude, or even insinuating that concept, the Bible clearly states to avoid them. Perhaps we cannot avoid them entirely, but certainly big red flags should spring up in our minds so that we can beware. We may even have such thoughts arise within ourselves. If we are thinking: “Those people,” “That group,” “People like that…,” then we must gently and lovingly monitor and assess our own thoughts and beliefs. We can choose not to associate with certain people who exhibit a particular behavior or have a particular belief set, but we still love them. “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” That is the standard set by Christ in Matthew 5:44. A lofty standard for sure, but that is what is expected of us. We can also choose not to associate with our own thoughts if they are revolving around division. We can love our self, forgive our self, learn, grow, choose new thoughts, and move on. If we are not doing that then we are not following Christ; we are sinning, to use that archaic word; we are off track spiritually. Before we lash out and judge others by their actions and words, let us look carefully at our own beliefs. Are there any areas of our lives that could be ‘opportunities for development’? I like what Josefa Iloilo, President of Fiji 2000-2009 wrote: “We need to reach that happy stage of our development when differences and diversity are not seen as sources of division and distrust, but of strength and inspiration.” Love is the solution for all problems, that I believe. Love can materialize as a desire to feed others, help them, care for them, and serve them. Love can be expressed as just being with someone, crying with them, or reading to them. Love can manifest as acceptance, approval, appreciation, respect, discipline, and structure. Love can be shared through silence. Imam Ali, a Shi’ite Caliph, wrote: “Speak only when your words are more beautiful than silence.” Love will express through each of us in entirely different ways based upon the varying circumstances of life. One of the best ways to overcome a division of any sort is to express love through tolerant listening. This is listening with an open nonjudgmental mind. Most people ultimately want the same things: personal safety, economic prosperity, social stability, happiness, success, and peace. Different political perspectives and religions simply have different ways of acquiring these desires, but that common underlying goal will be revealed and clarified if we will listen carefully and ask neutral probing questions. But often we are not taught commonality; we are taught division. Why? Why divide? What’s the point? I’m certainly no expert, but my guess is that division originates from fear, and fear pushes people in certain directions for security and safety. If we can make our political party, our church, or club a safe harbor from all those different, ignorant, and evil people then we can control them and protect ourselves. Of course, that is just a small piece of a much more complex issue. If we find ourselves hostile to any situation or to any person or group of persons, it is time to look at our own motives. My guess would be that we are lacking in love in some area. We can change our way of thinking through pouring out a prayer of love from our heart. It requires a conscious effort to release bigotry, divisiveness, and the desire to control and change others, but we can do it; that is one reason why Christ came to earth. We can resolve here and now to show only love, compassion, and tolerance to all God's children. God is gently whispering to us, while observing from a distance how we are doing in the grand plan. God then manages our choices in a way that is best for our soul development. We can make it easier on ourselves by listening to that inner still small voice. So, it is my prayer, that as far as it depends upon us let us live without judgment, peaceably and lovingly with all, as we become more and more aware of God both far and near.


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