Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth…
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have set in place;
What is man that You think of him,
And a son of man that You are concerned about him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
– David, Third King of Israel and Judah (1035-970 BC), from Psalm 8:1-5
Ours is the first generation that is able to discern what God actually wants. The Godhead was born on earth in the Person of Jesus, Who then made those divine wishes plain; and for the next two thousand years, God’s commands were preserved in the contrary wrapping of a human-made religion. We have long been eager for a relationship with God, but we are limited to thinking just in human terms; so over the past two thousand years, Christianity has remained as the irrelevant wrapping for the Godhead’s extraordinary gift. That God has chosen this point in history to dissolve that old religious wrapping so the divine Word of God is plain to see is a source of amazement and delight. But all of this is God’s work! We have had no human way to understand that the religion was never more than just a wrapping, and that eventually our glorious morning of awareness of God’s truth would come.
Our knowing at last God’s genuine Will feels like peace and joy after the confusion of endless and arbitrary human-made religious demands. What God actually wants from us seems so easy in comparison to dealing with archaic laws and having to eat the literal body of Christ! And in that very simplicity lies a new problem. It is easy for us to think, Piece of cake, Jesus! We’re there! But in fact, God is now giving us the start of a gigantic mission that is meant to accomplish the spiritual uplift of all of humankind. What God is asking of us is so immense that we cannot even fathom it all! But we can at least begin to consider it in the momentous eternal terms that it merits. For the first time in human history, we can take God seriously. On God’s Own terms.
I cannot presume to give you answers. My hope is just to better frame for you the four commands of God that can be derived from the Gospel teachings of Jesus. What God wants has nothing to do with religions! Religions were a useful introduction to spiritual thinking for primitive people, but once we had God’s Law of Love as Jesus expresses it in the Gospels we had no more need for any religion. The Apostle Paul describes our post-Jesus spiritual situation in his first letter to the Church at Corinth, a letter that we have lately been told was channeled through him directly from God: “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1Cor 13:11-13). And so it is!
While knowing that our present understanding still is limited and imperfect, let us nevertheless begin to consider the deeper meaning of God’s four commands. They are in fact not individual and separate, but instead God’s program works well only if all four are strictly followed together. Let’s consider this to be God’s Own amazingly successful process for fostering our rapid spiritual growth! To help you better see how these four commands work, we have here added a few clarifying words in italics to each of them:
* Loving and Forgiving are God’s Only Laws – A Complete Legal Reset
Jesus isn’t just augmenting all those Old Testament moral laws. In fact, He is entirely replacing them. If any of the old laws were to remain, then God’s new Law of Love would forever be seen as nothing more than a suggestion because the Old Testament behavioral laws would supersede it. And that is clearly not what God wants! As Jesus tells us, God’s new Law of Love is this: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (MT 22:37-40). Does that look to you like just a suggestion?
And far from making our lives easier, this new law makes our daily choices harder! True, there are now no behavioral rules. But our motive from now on in whatever we do must be pure love, and only love. The more you consider this requirement, the more you realize it is a much harder standard than a plain behavioral law would be! Only spiritually earnest adults need apply. Moreover, Jesus uses God’s new Law of Love to unwind all the Old Testament’s sin-based morality standards. His acting to discard the deadening weight that the concept of sin has always been for us is essential to His effort to prepare our minds for the magic that following His teachings can perform in accelerating our spiritual growth.
And where forgiving is concerned, Jesus is adamant in saying there is no limit to how often and how completely we must forgive. He says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned” (LK 6:37). When Peter asks him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus says to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (MT 18:21-23). In other words, every time.
* Strictly Following the Teachings of Jesus Will Transform Our Minds – Process and Goal
Jesus uses the terms “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven” dozens of times. These are not mere terms of art, but rather we can see that they refer to the sixth level of the greater reality, which people can enter when they are vibrating spiritually at a high enough rate that they can at last cease to incarnate on earth. Giving us a place where we can experience negativity and thereby raise our personal spiritual vibrations enough that we can achieve such a high developmental level is apparently the entire reason why this material universe even exists.
So when Jesus talks about bringing the kingdom of God on earth, He is referring to some future day when everyone on earth and in the afterlife is spiritually vibrating at the same high level. He says, “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (MT 5:48). And Jesus tells us that our strictly following His teachings is the key to our achieving our ultimate goal of bringing the kingdom of God on earth. He says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (JN 8:31-32). And He says, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (LK 17:20-21). And so it is! Please note, too, that what we have in the Gospels is not meant to be God’s final word. God’s revelations to humankind will continue until each one of us is spiritually perfect! We will better understand this when we consider God’s fourth proposal, below….
* The Teachings of Jesus Must Not be Incorporated Into Any Religion – Spiritual Freedom
The extent to which Jesus disparages religions is legendary! And He insists that we must not incorporate His teachings into any religion, whether old or new. He says, “Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved” (MT 9:17). “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old” (MT 13:52).
* We May Continue to Question and to Learn – Eternal Empowerment
This beautiful invitation is God’s repudiation of all religious dogmas. It makes the Lord’s Way forever new! Here is what God says to us through Jesus: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (MT 7:7-8). The point made here is that each of us is invited to ask God our own questions, and each of us can count upon receiving our individual divine answers. God assures us that once we have accepted God’s offer, then humankind will be forever empowered! Never again will anyone be able to force a religious belief on someone else. Only think of the suffering that our rejecting God’s offer when it was first given to us through Jesus has inflicted upon the world! The Crusades, the Inquisition, and all the wars against indigenous peoples to impose Christianity at the point of a spear: none of that ever was God’s will! This beautiful invitation coupled with a promise from God is offered anew to each of us in every generation. When I first set out in my latter teens to try to understand my childhood experience of light, I had already read the Bible from cover to cover a couple of times. I had been captivated by God’s amazing promise! So I began to ask my questions. And over the course of my life since then, God has given me all the right evidence at all the right times to abundantly and completely answer every question that ever has occurred to me. Always and forever, God means what God says!
So now we have the parameters of the Lord’s Way that Jesus came to earth to begin. And we know that the purpose of our living by the Way is the ultimate empowerment of our minds so we can make this our last necessary earth-lifetime. It is so simple! But it is far from easy. To help us better understand what a complete departure the Lord’s Way is from every religion that ever has existed on earth, how challenging and how empowering it is, let’s consider over the next three weeks how it might play out in our own lives….
You have him rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put everything under his feet, All sheep and oxen,
And also the animals of the field,
The birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!
– David, Third King of Israel and Judah (1035-970 BC), Psalm 8:6-9