“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
So, to follow in the steps of Christ, and to make ourselves obvious followers of that Divine soul, we must love one another. We must purposefully choose love, joy, and peace, so that we radiate the Divine to all others, building bridges between hearts. As 1 John 1:7 teaches: “…if we are living in the light of God's presence, just as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other.”
That is the lesson Jesus came to teach: to love one another, to have fellowship with each other. When darkness taps on our hearts, we open a window to the refreshing love of God. When apathy and despair want to pull us down into an emotional and spiritual quagmire of chaos, we resist individually and as a society. One by one, we push back against entropy by living in the Light, building togetherness, creating community, and establishing unity. It starts with us, as an individual -- here and now.
I speak frequently about love and peace, and the oneness of who we are as Children of God. I speak a lot about it because it is important to me; I think it is the most important message that people living on this earth right now need to hear.
If you know me, I’m not about trying to make everyone a Christian – no, it’s not that kind of oneness, that of sameness. It is in an interspiritual sense. Interspirituality refers to the awareness of God and the oneness all people share as Children of God. It is so deeply rooted in the heart that it renders meaningless any notion of religion, dogma, creed, belief, background, or any other means that we utilize to separate ourselves. Interspirituality is about love and oneness, not who is right, or who has the best religion or the most truthful set of beliefs. It is about the shared experience of religion – the love we feel, the joy and peace that emanate from us as we touch the Divine within us in our own way.
Just as I believe that regardless of religion, Christ is present in every heart, so does the Buddhist believe that within every heart there is an inner Buddha. I would guess that the Hindu believes that within each heart there is an inner Krishna.
This is our individual experience as we live through our belief system. I feel and express the joy, peace, and love of the Christ. The Buddhist will feel the joy, peace, and love of the Buddha. Joy, love, and peace are the shared experiences that each of us have as Divinity flows through us. Words can’t always describe it.
This is the oneness, the unity, to which I refer. I am not suggesting turning a Jew into a Christian any more than I am suggesting we can turn an orchid into a rose, or a poppy into a bougainvillea. Within God’s Garden there is unlimited potential for diversity, variation, and variety in flowers as well as species of all life, all religions, all races, and individual genetic traits. The same God shines light on the rose as on the orchid; the same love flows through every person on this planet, and every soul in the Universe. This is the oneness to which I speak of; it is the unifying presence and power of God, of love.
It seems we are more and more rapidly inventing things, building off each other’s inventions and ideas, making things more effective, clear, and efficient, at least more interesting. Yet, despite all the technological advances since World War I, here we are today still experiencing conflict. We are older, maybe smarter, but our spiritual growth is not keeping up with our technological prowess.
Of course, we are making progress socially and spiritually. Our awareness has grown and continues to grow. We have eliminated some prejudices and oppressive behaviors, at least through the laws that have been enacted, but not from all our hearts. From my limited perspective, I don’t yet see all of humankind embracing one another in love and respect, or even in tolerance. Are we, as a society, following Christ? Individually, many of us are doing our part, at least while people are watching us. Do we love one another when no one is looking? When others scrutinize us as a society, do they recognize us as Christ’s disciples?
I find it fascinating when I hear voices cry out claiming that we are a Christian nation, and yet some of those voices belong to Christian organizations and denominations that promote and exemplify disrespect, division, and even hatred. How can we claim to be a Christian nation when some of our Christian churches struggle to follow the principles of Christ?
Therefore, I maintain vigilance in repeating these themes of love, acceptance, and tolerance. It’s not that I think this congregation needs to hear this message; it is that I must hear it often enough to not only believe it, but to absorb it and live it.
Unlike technology, where we quickly adopt the ideas of others and apply them in new and marvelous ways, sometimes in the social and religious realms we maintain a staunch separateness; we cling to old ideas that have long outlived their usefulness.
The challenge with our growth in technology, however, is the affect it has on the planet. Although some technologies may be convenient for humans, they can threaten the earth. We are at a point in our technological development where we can inflict real damage to the earth, and yet we flounder as a species to find the mental and moral discipline to restrain ourselves.
Of course, it is my opinion that there is nothing that humankind can ultimately do to destroy the Earth. Mother Earth has been around billions of years, and when it tires of our intrusion it will simply shake itself like a wet dog dislodging the water from its fur and rid itself of the nuisance that is us. Prior to that time however, it may be appropriate for us to live in a way that not only allows the Earth to grow, flourish, and heal, but for all life on this planet to grow, flourish, and heal.
And so, I echo the words that began this talk: One by one, we push back against entropy by living in the Light, building togetherness, creating community, and establishing unity. It starts with us, as an individual -- here and now.
All healing begins with us because all healing begins with God. As we open our minds and hearts to the spirit of Christ, we live optimally and with more awareness; awareness of how we fit into a larger picture. When we live in Spirit we do not seek only to take. Instead, we seek to find balance between giving and receiving, using and creating.
When we attune to the Divine, we do not demand excess, but are nourished with enough. Studies have shown that certain monkeys are healthier when they are not overfed. When they have enough, but perhaps still a little hungry, a gene is activated that heals their bodies of the typical aging diseases.
The same is true with us: when we are sustained but not overfed – in any area, not just food – we tend to stay a little healthier, less complacent, and more aware. When we rely on God for all things, we are insured of health in areas of our being. It doesn’t mean that we will be comfortable all the time: we may be a little hungry, a little challenged, a little unclear on things. But this Divine discomfort activates within us the desire to draw ever closer to our Creator to find the answers and the peace, which heal us.
As we heal ourselves, so we can help heal the world, not just the Earth, but the world – the societal discord that we see around us. When we are healed through the hunger for Spirit, we become tools that Christ can use to spread peace, joy, and love.
We begin to see each other in a new way, as fellow Children of God, all members of the same family despite our differences. When we can love and appreciate equally the rose, and orchid, and bougainvillea in the garden where we live, and not fight over and try to hoard and control the water and light, which comes from God and is clearly abundant for all, then we have made steps toward healing not only ourselves, but the Earth and the world.
When times are particularly ripe, God enlightens hearts to share this message. That was why Buddha and Jesus came. Most recently that is why Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King Jr. were put on earth – to awaken our hearts to oneness. Mother Theresa gave this suggestion for relating to someone: “Speak tenderly to them. Let there be kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting. Always have a cheerful smile. Don't only give your care but give your heart as well.” Dr. King wrote: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
So, the message continues, that we are each a member of God’s family of love. God’s spirit lives in us all, connecting us; none of us has any more than another. Whether we are aware of it or not, everything we say and do, and even think, has an impact on the planet and every other person on the planet.
My prayer is that we hold to the words of Galatians 6:10 “Let us work for the good of all…” What a blessing to walk in God’s Garden and know that we are connected to every other blossom. Together we create an amazing bouquet whose fragrance has the power to heal ourselves and the world.