Building on a Rock

Posted by Roberta Grimes • January 28, 2023 • 27 Comments
Jesus, The Teachings of Jesus

This land is mine.
God gave this land to me.
This brave and ancient land to me.
And when the morning sun
Reveals her hills and plains,
Then I see a land
Where children can run free.
So take my hand
And walk this land with me.
And walk this lovely land with me.
– Pat Boone, from “The Exodus Song” (1960)

You would think that building a website for Jesus would be a simple thing, but I struggled with the design for months. When you are asked to do something for Jesus, you want it to be completely amazing! I want people to love Jesus’s words as I love His words, and to see in them all that I see in them. I want everyone to easily find in those words each his or her own perfect pathway to his or her own more wonderful life, and I couldn’t find a way to make that happen. Eventually we came up with what I now think of as a starter version of I imagine that we will be working on this website for years, gradually making it work ever better for each individual user. Because the teachings of Jesus are at the same time both much more complex and a great deal simpler than they seem to be when you first read them.  

Please take, for example, the Lord’s teaching that Thomas and Jesus have been urging me to write about for weeks. They tell me that it is meant to be Jesus’s Ninth Core Teaching. And I tell them that, sure, but I don’t see enough in it even to make a half-decent blog post! “Just follow Jesus’s teachings closely and you can live a better life.” That is your entire blog post right there. So, how is that a Core Teaching?

“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and its collapse was great” (MT 7:24-27). And there you have it! That is the whole blog post. Just do what Jesus says. Done deal. But still, they keep insisting. Oy.

What was Jesus really talking about when He talked about rock vs. sand? Well, anyone who knows Jesus would guess that He was talking about love. Build your house on love. Almost every third word out of Jesus’s mouth has something to do with love. But we know by now that for Jesus, love is not what you and I think of as love. No, for Jesus, love is not an emotion. It is an intense and profound and unchangeable way of being.

“Then His mother and His brothers came, and while standing outside they sent word to Him, calling for Him. And a crowd was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, ‘Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.’ Answering them, He said, ‘Who are My mother and My brothers?’ And looking around at those who were sitting around Him, He said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers!  For whoever does the will of God, this is My brother, and sister, and mother’” (MK 3:31-35).

A Course in Miracles was channeled to us in the nineteen-sixties by a team that reportedly was headed by Jesus. And in The Course, Jesus calls the kind of love that we have for our family members and close friends “special loves,” and He says that special loves are as spiritually counterproductive as are “special hates.” Believe it or not! No, the kind of love that Jesus teaches is universal. It is big enough to encompass all of humankind, as constant as the ground on which you stand, and important enough that you would give your life for it without a thought. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but I have seen that kind of love at work. That is the love that lives in Jesus.

As our wonderful friend Father Richard Rohr says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is really a metaphor for a state of consciousness . . . it is not a place you go to, but a place you come from. It is a whole new way of looking at the world, a transformed awareness that literally turns this world into a different place. . . The hallmark of this awareness is that it sees no separation—not between God and humans, not between humans and other humans. . . . When Jesus talks about this Oneness … what he more has in mind is a complete, mutual indwelling.” So Fr. Rohr calls the divine love that Jesus taught “Oneness,” which is a reasonable description of how it feels as it grows in you. The love that Jesus taught is a universal love that makes no distinction among people at all.

Here is what the love that Jesus taught is not:

  • Personal. If there is anyone that you are unable to love, then you are being too personal. It is time for a reset.
  • Stressful. The process of raising your personal consciousness vibration toward more perfect love is stress-free by nature. And in fact, it requires that you free yourself from all outside stresses as much as you can in order for it to work really well. And if you find yourself gritting your teeth as you try to forgive, then you are doing it wrong; it is time to start over and practice the basics of raising your consciousness vibration more patiently.
  • Enjoyable. Falling in love feels wonderful! We thrill! We soar! But none of those intense feelings of personal love is associated with the early stages of achieving the universal love for all of humankind that Jesus teaches. At first, to be frank, the love that Jesus teaches feels more like a flattening of your emotions. It feels like a kind of distancing from actively loving those closest to you. It is only later, from the space of universal peace that raising your consciousness vibration fosters in you, that your heart starts to swell until it encompasses all of humanity.
  • Variable. Approaching ever more universal love creates in you a more stable mood-base. It makes it so that you will less and less feel earth-life’s emotional ups and downs, but rather you will feel yourself to be at a little distance from them. And this includes even the great emotional highs and lows, like winning the lottery or the loss of a loved one. As this feeling builds, you come to transcend all earthly concerns, and you begin to feel a kind of deep and constant mild happiness, no matter what might be going on around you.
  • Fickle. We tend to think of love as something like a meter that measures how we feel from day to day about the people who are closest to us. We love them more when they are helpful to us, and less when they do things that annoy us. But the universal love that Jesus teaches is the exact opposite of the roller coaster of special loves! As the universal love that Jesus taught builds in you, you will be less and less annoyed or elated by those close to you, no matter what they might be doing.

My dear friends, raising your personal consciousness vibration is a deliberate process. It requires that you literally be love, every hour of every day. Some people do it using an Eastern religious practice, but I have found that by far the easiest method is the teachings of Jesus. By far! They work effortlessly, and within months I was seeing everything so differently. When I first began to cultivate Jesus’s genuine love for all of humankind, it felt as if I was losing some of my love for my close family. But instead, my love for everyone in the world was catching up to the way that I love my family members. And one of the first symptoms of this flattening was the moment, perhaps a dozen years ago now, when my husband picked me up at the airport as I was returning from a business trip. And I was feeling so much compassion for him, to think that he had been alone all week, that I spontaneously told him that if he found a lady friend to share dinners with when I was away, you know, darling, I wouldn’t mind. Poor man – he just looked at me funny. But that is what developing universal love can do.  

My two great youthful heroes were both radical ministers, and they continue to inspire me to this day. As I think of it now, each gives to us an extraordinary example of what it is to have built your spiritual house on a solid rock constructed of the teachings of Jesus. And then, perhaps inevitably, each was martyred in the spiritual house that He had built on that rock:

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer fought the Nazis’ anti-Semitic murder-machine with everything that was in him, but his only real weapons were his pen and the universal love that Jesus taught. He was hanged at the Flossenburg extermination camp at the age of thirty-nine for plotting to assassinate Adolf Hitler, and he died only days before he would have been rescued. I fell in love with Dr. Bonhoeffer’s legacy in college, that persistent but reluctant hero, a budding intellectual and a beautiful writer.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. also was martyred at the age of thirty-nine. Dr. King had such a sure connection to the radical power of Jesus’s love that when racists bombed his home while his wife and infant daughter were inside, he was peacefully able to tell an angry mob bent on revenge that fighting violence with violence gets us nowhere, so they must now peacefully disperse. I fell in love with Dr. King in college, too, when the Civil Rights movement was at its height, that slight young man and his magnificent voice.

You and I follow Jesus in the wake of giants. And now I realize of course that there can be no more ideal examples than these two amazing young men of people whose houses were built on the rock of the universal love that Jesus taught. And they lived at two of the worst moments in history, when Nazi Germany and the racist American South washed away so very many whose spiritual houses had been built upon shifting sand! So, yes, dear Jesus and Thomas, we can make a whole blog post out of your suggestion. And we likely can make a Core Teaching of it, too.

Both Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King, Jr. had only set out to live decent lives. They were not asking for trouble. As Dr. King said, “Like anyone, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place.” Most of the other people who were alive where and when they each lived their lives had built their spiritual houses on the unsteady sands of no solid principles, so when the Nazis and the haters came, those others had no rock beneath the houses they had built, and as the troubles rolled in for their respective generations, those troubles washed most of those others away. But the few who had built their houses on the immovable rock of the love that Jesus taught stood strong! My heroes did not enjoy being heroes. Watch Dr. King’s face in those old clips. He was never exultant. Never glad to make history. And I don’t know that I ever have seen a picture of Dr. Bonhoeffer wearing more than a half-smile that never reached his eyes. But living where and when each of them lived, there on that solid rock with Jesus, they did what they knew they had to do. They could have done no other.

And it is first now that I feel that I really begin to understand this teaching by Jesus. It is no trivial thing! To build our house upon the solid rock of the love that Jesus taught means loving enough to fight for the right with your whole being, and to love the least of these people with your whole heart and as if nothing else matters. I have just read that Dr. Bonhoeffer’s death was likely not by hanging but under torture. And Dr. King was hounded by the despicable J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, who tried to ruin Dr. King’s reputation even long after his death. But even if they could have known their futures, neither of my heroes would have deviated from his course for a moment.

To love as Jesus loves is to love as Dietrich Bonhoeffer loved, and as Martin Luther King, Jr.  loved. Or else to miss out on the love that matters, which means to never really love at all.   

Though I am just a man,
When you are by my side,
With the help of God
I know I can be strong,
To make this land our home.
If I must fight, I’ll fight
To make this land our own.
Until I die, this land is mine.
– Pat Boone, from “The Exodus Song” (1960)

Postscript: All the photos but the first were taken in Jesus’s earthly homeland.

Roberta Grimes
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27 thoughts on “Building on a Rock

  1. Excellent post today! When we discover and grow away from personal and emotional love, it becomes automatically more universal and is the starting point of its growing more deeply and providing you with a contentment that is free from rollercoasting.

    1. Ah yes, my dear Adrian! That is it in a nutshell. We can discover a deep and universal love within ourselves, and a peace beyond anything that we have ever known.

  2. Roberta, Jesus’s 9th core teaching that you speak of resonates with me. I never thought of it before so thanks for talking about it today! I will keep it in my heart. Dave

  3. Dear Roberta, your statement about “love” is surely accurate as a profound revelation for understanding what Jesus means:

    ” … for Jesus, love is not an emotion. It is an intense and profound and unchangeable way of being. ”

    Likewise, “… the love that Jesus teaches feels more like a flattening of your emotions. It feels like a kind of distancing from actively loving those closest to you. It is only later, from the space of universal peace that raising your consciousness vibration fosters in you, that your heart starts to swell until it encompasses all of humanity. ”

    Such “love” is the natural state of our spirit when in Heaven–freed from the inherently self-centered needs and wants of our mortal body. So, to achieve such a state of grace means to detach our soul from the domination of our body on our thoughts and feelings; it amounts to a denial of our material existence. Such is the ultimate state of being natural to our spirit when freed of its mortal body. Achieving such a state of grace in life is what we expect of saints, and not of ordinary people.

    I have at times attempted to meditate to realize my spiritual nature freed of Human wants and desires. I always fail. The best I can do here is try. However, I trust that when I pass I will return to this state of being.

    1. Ah yes, my dear Jack, beautifully said! Jesus seems to live in that state. He carries the burdens of the entire world, but yet He is always calm and happy. It is hard to describe how He seems when you talk with Him – sort of, “Okay, I’ve got this, give Me even more, love still wins.”

  4. Dear Roberta,
    What a profound and well written post today! The piece that really stood out to me is:
    No, for Jesus, love is not an emotion. It is an intense and profound and unchangeable way of being.
    For me, this changes everything I thought I knew about Love!
    We read and hear the phrase, “God is Love”, but how much do we really understand that? And has anyone really tried to explain it, other than Jesus, who also lived it?
    I spent last night contemplating my current ACIM teaching, “I really want to see differently”, and felt a pull of curiosity toward, “what does that really mean?” I visited another book I have and found myself watching a video of a man who met Jesus, who turned his life upside down (actually, in truth, more right side up!) and he mentions that there was one attribute, characteristic of Jesus that really hit him, and has stuck with him. This man fought this connection with egoic intellectualism initially, and often would take two steps to Jesus and one step back, with tantrums of anger. And yet, each and every time he came back to Jesus, The Lord was equal in his patience and compassion, as if nothing had happened. This really had a profound effect on this man. I think about that now, as I read your post and think, “Love!” For those of us conditioned by doctrine and dogma (judgement), we initially have a worry that we’re being apathetic about life if we practice prevenient forgiveness, to be equal in our interactions. I shake my head and laugh now. Your statement that Love is a way of being, not an emotion; a wisdom, not a fluttery moment of delight; a Force, not a tool to take out when you want to feel good.
    What a wonderful post! Thank you!
    PS, what Bible edition do you use, or are the words used your interpretation? They are clearer and flow better than the editions I have.
    Love you!

    1. Roberta,
      I wanted to add that your description of growth, that “flattening” of emotions is a relief to see! I have been feeling that way for some months now, as well my sister, and we both initially were worried we just “didn’t care”, but that wasn’t true either. We both were frantic (initally) to try to get back the way we’d been used to feeling, and then with ACIM, I began to think, “wait, what if this is what is supposed to happen? I don’t love any less…”. And what I also found was my egoic nature desperately trying to create issues, look for issues to be worried, anxious, fearful, etc! Does that make sense? I hope it does. I know what I am trying to express, but not sure if I’m conveying that very well. When I dropped all attempts to “use” ACIM daily exercises to judge myself, keep myself “in check” rather than to observe and learn, I found myself less and less stressed, angry, and upset at work and home. Your post today is SO timely for me!!! Just had to share that!

      1. And funny enough, today’s ACIM lesson is synched with yours: God is in everything I see.
        To me: God/Love is in everything I see.

    2. oh my dear Fran, and what a wonderful comment! Each of us is a part of Consciousness, so each of us can tap into unfathomable depths of power, once we get our own little egos out of the way. And you have expressed that fact so well!

      I use the New American Standard Bible when I write, mainly because its quotation policy is more liberal. But my personal Bible – and the one that I seem to have mostly memorized – is the New International Version.

  5. Four blocks from life!
    That’s what I felt when
    I was on Prozac
    Now Jesus wants us
    to fill up on His Love.
    Day by day
    His Love is the Rock.
    His Love isn’t fleeting.

  6. Thank you Roberta for the impressive post. I assume you would agree that many of the rioters and protesters today have the right idea but are going about it the wrong way.

    1. My dear Thomas, I think I would not agree that the rioters have the right idea. I am not sure what their idea even is, to be frank. As Dr. King said, violence gets us nowhere.

  7. Dear Roberta.
    I have wondered throughout my 65 years on this planet what true love really is. Your essay this week was one of the very best descriptions of universal love as described by Jesus that I have ever read. I will read this again and again to ponder the truth of these words.
    Thank you as always for your tenacity in delivering these messages of Jesus’s mission of love.

    1. Oh my sweet Renee, thank you for saying this! I try so hard to convey what it is to know Him, from His Biblical words and even more from His actual presence. His love is a happiness within you so deep that you will never again know anything but happiness!

  8. Dearest Roberta,
    I now think that when I first read that Jesus said ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, this is My brother, and sister, and mother” that Jesus, at least for the moment, was ruling out his mother and siblings from the group that was doing the will of God, and that was disturbing to many, including me. I now believe that Jesus included his mother and siblings as part of the group doing the will of God.

    How could Jesus possibly look upon the assembled people and divide them up does love God and does not love God? He assuredly loved all he could see equally. In that way he could avoid the ACIM “special love”.

    I just looked over the previous sentence where I write Jesus could “avoid” special love. This implies there was some sort of tendency to gravitate or migrate towards the “special love” situation. Jesus couldn’t possibly love all equally and simultaneously have a “special love”, which is by definition divisive. And unlike Drs. King and Bonhoeffer, there never was on the part of Jesus any feeling of “Oops I hit a rough patch here” and then showed that in his face. So the bottom line is that He was including Mother Mary and his siblings, not excluding them.

    1. Oh of course my dear David, He meant them all! I think He meant especially His family, and He was welcoming these others into that much-beloved group as well. We know that Jesus never excludes anyone 🙂

  9. Dearest Roberta,
    What a blog post! I’ve loved the blog posts of the last couple of weeks, yet this one seems to me like the flowering and fruition of them all.

    You’ve just defined love – and you’ve done so in the most elegant way: It is not an emotion, but a profound and unchangeable way of being … What a superb description of the archetype beyond all archetypes; the unfathomable depth of God! Surely, this (Agape) is the core of everything.

    God is. Jesus is. Love is.

    You know this is a great question to ask while having a ‘real’ conversation: ‘What is love?’ It is something people are known to discuss with their kids and teenagers to spark inner reflection and contemplation. And sometimes it is amazing to listen to the innate wisdom that comes from the young. Parents, uncles, aunts and teachers certainly know this. To the young, who are less conditioned to worldly thinking, love is seen as this magical, large ‘presence’.
    Beyond all the knights on horseback and beautiful princesses in towers, beyond the fairy tails, love is an indescribably large and timeless force to children. In teen years, the images and ideas change and teenagers look to romantic relationships. Yet underneath the sea of sweet romance they all wish to drown in, a sense of the vast, enveloping force of love still exists quite strongly. You could say this brightest of archetypes is well and truly ‘alive’ in the young.

    Hence, the Way of Jesus that teaches love as this vastly enriching ‘way of being’ can awaken it within each person. The deep fulfillment of Love actualization will not only feel tremendous, it will feel ‘right’ somehow and ‘familiar.’ I reckon a deep recognition occurs in each of us as we grow in Love.

    Even reading this post my dear, soothes, balances and moves me to feel love for all of us here in this blog family and my human fellows beyond. ❣️🙏🏼🕊

    1. Oh my dear Efrem, I am still trying to understand love! It is a way of being, yes, but for reasons that I cannot begin to fathom, I have been given the privilege of actually having a relationship with Jesus while I am in a body. To actually visit with Him? Ask Him questions? But I simply cannot understand Jesus’s depth of love. And I want to be able to explain it to the world! Okay. So I have just written that, and it is out of my system. But to calmly accept without protest the awful Christian dogma that He died for our sins requires the patience of a saint… but, come to think of it, Jesus is at least a saint, is He not?

    2. Quote from above:

      “God is. Jesus is. Love is.”

      It is true that when we experience this, there is no mistaking it!

      1. Ah yes, my dear Mike. The problem is that love always has been the msising ingredient in Christianity as the religion has been practiced. It is no wonder that it is dying now!

  10. Great post Roberta, thank you.

    I started the goal of “loving everyone as if they are family” about a month or so ago. The idea probably came from one of your blogs.

    This is a fantastic goal for us to work towards. Kind of crazy to think something that seems so simply can be so difficult for many of us.

    Which brings me back to a few conversations we had in other posts regarding our physical instincts and how they can override our thoughts/actions.

    How much of our free will is really free?

    It seems like we need to put in a lot of work to overcome our natural tendencies. Many if not most of those tendencies are detrimental to our goals.

    I’ve been working on the theme of your post for the past month using affirmations.

    Trying to program myself to instinctively love everyone the same. So this blog post shows that I am on the correct path. Then again, how can you go wrong by loving everyone?

    I’m hoping the daily affirmations helps me look at everyone as family. Instead of noticing differences (pattern recognition) that we instinctively rely on. I want to naturally look at all of us as if there are no differences.

    While I am still noticing differences, I am also acknowledging another soul trying to navigate their way through this physical world and it helps me feel a connection with that person.

    I’d like to hear what others have done to achieve this type of enlightenment. Having a road map to how we can achieve these goals is needed, in my opinion.

    How we go about changing our natural tendencies is what has been occupying my thoughts if you haven’t noticed. Or maybe you have and are growing tiresome of me posting about it. haha It’s the software programmer in me, always looking for a solution that can be duplicated over and over again.

    I do plan on getting the book Jack recommended (“You Are Not Your Brain”) when I have some free time. Thanks again for the recommendation, Jack.

    Thanks for your patience with my posts. 🙂

    1. My dear Thomas, my book The Fun of Growing Forever can be helpful, too. It’s good that you are a software programmer, because it really is largely about reprogramming yourself and your instinctive reactions to people until they become love-based rather than fear-based. You will get there!

  11. Dear Roberta. Thank you for such a beautiful, insightful, and clarifying post. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, “No, for Jesus love is not an emotion. It is an intense and profound and unchangeable way of being.” It is, as you say, to “be love every hour of every day,” about achieving what some would call faith, but what I prefer to call trust, “with your whole being,” as you put it. Trust is the firm foundation, steadfast. This is what I also see discussed in MT 7:24-27 quoted above as the 9th core teaching – that continuum of spiritual development where we go from just hearing and intellectualizing the teachings of Jesus, to having some inner experiences or awakenings that strengthen us in our hearts, but can be fleeting and hard to grasp, to finally a spiritual practice that is constant, unmoveable because it is now at the core level of every fiber of our being – in other words total trust. There, you can no longer be pushed about by the winds and waves of life’s crises and vicissitudes, but are the rock itself that the house is built upon. You are not the shifting sands of material desires or earthly attachments. You have reached freedom, not to do whatever you want, but freedom from wants, that “space of universal peace.” I love that turn of phrase you used, so poetic. Martin Luther King Jr and Dietrich Bonhoeffer definitely seem to have reached something like that “space.” Thanks again, Roberta.

    1. Oh my dear Scott, they do inspire me every day, together with Jesus! I think of them as a kind of bridge to Him, if you will. He is the ultimate, while they are more human, and yet they still found it possible to love in the way that Jesus could love. They seem to make it feel possible!

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