ANZURA Conference presentation given at the Gold Coast, QLD
(From 606 Newsletter – Nov/Dec 1993)
(All emphases within quotes from The Urantia Book have been added.)
Let’s start this quest for knowledge with first examining what Jesus was supposed to do, before we go on to consider what he actually did do, and how that affects us.
We can find out what Jesus was supposed to do by referring to the beginning of Part 4 of The Urantia Book.
Michael had a double purpose in coming to our planet as Jesus of Nazareth. First, he was completing the required bestowal experiences … demanded of all Creator Sons before they can assume complete sovereignty of their created universe …. Second, he was aspiring to the privilege of representing the maximum authority of the Paradise Trinity that can be exercised in the direct and personal administration of a local universe. (page 1324.1)
In other words Michael was undertaking this mission in order to qualify as a Master Creator Son. Of importance to us humans is how these aims were to be achieved. To discover that, we have to go to the bestowal charge of Immanuel, the ambassador of the Paradise Trinity assigned to our universe of Nebadon, which included this statement:
“Throughout your Urantia career you need be concerned with but one thing, the unbroken communion between you and your Paradise Father; and it will be by the perfection of such a relationship that the world of your bestowal … will behold a new and more understandable revelation of your Father and my Father, the Universal Father of all.” [Paper 120:1.4, page 1326.1]
It appears that Immanuel and Michael had spent some time in considering the what, how, and why of the bestowal, for Immanuel went on to say:
“Your great mission to be realized and experienced in the mortal incarnation is embraced in your decision to live a life wholeheartedly motivated to do the will of your Paradise Father, thus to reveal God, your Father, in the flesh and especially to the creatures or the flesh.”
Immanuel then asked Jesus to:
” … exhibit in your one short life in the flesh, as it has never been seen in all Nebadon, the transcendent possibilities attainable by a God-knowing human
during the short career of human existence … .. [Paper 120:2.8, page 1328.5]
… and to show to the entire universe … … the achievement of God seeking man and finding him and the phenomenon of man seeking God and finding him … [Paper 120:3.8, page 1329.0]
The commission tells us that the example set by Jesus during that part of his mission before he became fully aware of his dual nature exemplifies a life that is attainable by you and me. Only in the later stages of his bestowal life was Jesus actually living a dual role – both a full human being as well as a Creator Son of God. In actuality, he had fully completed all that had been asked of him when, in his thirty-first year, he descended from a forty day sojourn on Mount Hermon just prior to his baptism. At this point he could have left Urantia to assume his universe title and status as a Master Creator Son. The subsequent teaching mission with the disciples that terminated in his death and resurrection were not a requisite part of the bestowal. For that part, Jesus was purely a volunteer. But even in this second stage in which he recognized his own true status as both God and man, for the most part, his life was still both a revelation of the personality of God and an example to us of what is attainable by human beings.
I want to digress here and refer to some statements towards the end of Part 4. Much of what we know about what Jesus did has always been considered as something that he could do only because of his dual status as man and God. Most Christians have concluded that ‘in real life’ many of the attitudes taken by Jesus are unrealistic and impractical and not what is required from us. Let’s have it firmly in our minds that The Urantia Book says otherwise, it really does tell us that the example of the man Jesus is attainable by God-knowing and God-seeking individuals! So what restrains us? The book has this to say to men and women of our times:
Modem, civilized men dread the thought of falling under the dominance of strong religious convictions. Thinking man has always feared to be held by a religion. When a strong and moving religion threatens to dominate him, he invariably tries to rationalize, traditionalize, and institutionalize it, thereby hoping to gain control of it. By such procedure, even a revealed religion becomes man-made and man-dominated. Modem men and women of intelligence evade the religion of Jesus because of their fears of what it will do to them–and with them. And all such fears are well founded. The religion of Jesus does, indeed, dominate and transform its believers, demanding that men dedicate their lives to seeking for a knowledge of the will of the Father in heaven and requiring that the energies of living be consecrated to the unselfish service of the brotherhood of man. [Paper 195:9.6, page 2083.2]
Then follows this sentence:
Selfish men and women simply will not pay such a price for even the greatest spiritual treasure ever offered mortal man. [Paper 195:9.8, page 2083.4]
In that extremely brief review, we have covered the primary requirements of what was expected for Jesus’ bestowal life. Next we want to cover some of the ways in which these aims were achieved. Firstly let’s take a look at attitudes that he adopted:
Jesus had great difficulty in getting them (the apostles ) to understand his personal practice of non-resistance. He absolutely refused to defend himself, and it appeared to the apostles that he would be pleased if they would pursue the same policy. He taught them not to resist evil, not to combat injustice or injury, but he did not teach passive tolerance of wrongdoing. And he made it plain on this afternoon that he approved of the social punishment of evildoers and criminals, and that the civil government must sometimes employ force for the maintenance of social order and in the execution of justice.
He never ceased to warn his disciples against the evil practice of retaliation; he made no allowance for revenge, the idea of getting even. He deplored the holding of grudges. He disallowed the idea of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. He discountenanced the whole concept of private and personal revenge, assigning these matters to civil government, on the one hand, and to the judgment of God, on the other. He made it clear … that his teachings applied to the individual, not the state.
He summarized his instructions up to that time regarding these matters, as:
Love your enemies–remember the moral claims of human brotherhood.
The futility of evil: A wrong is not righted by vengeance. Do not make the mistake of fighting evil with its own weapons.
Have faith-confidence in the eventual triumph of divine justice and eternal goodness.” [Paper 140:8.4, page 1579.5]
If we could do all of that, there would not be much room left over for inter-personal or even international conflict. But Jesus did not indicate that his followers should be passive martyrs, enduring all indignities inflicted upon them:
Jesus did not advocate the practice of negative submission to the indignities of those who might purposely seek to impose upon the practitioners of non-resistance to evil, but rather that his followers should be wise and alert ill the quick and positive reaction of good to evil to the end that they might effectively overcome evil with good. Forget not, the truly good is invariably more powerful than the most malignant evil. The Master taught a positive standard of righteousness: “Whosoever wishes to be my disciple, let him disregard himself and take up the full measure of his responsibilities daily to follow me”. And he so lived himself in that ‘he went about doing good.’ [Paper 159:5.5, page 1770.2]
We might feel that all this is well beyond us, that Jesus could do these things because he was special. Indeed he was special, but apparently not in the way that he had physical or mental attributes that we ordinary mortals do not possess. There was nothing extraordinary about his parents, or his ancestry, they were just good, average, Jewish stock. The mind and body of the human Jesus was no different from our own. It could not have been genetically exceptional, nor supernaturally endowed, if he was to fulfil his mission of living a life that is attainable by ordinary mortals. So our real problem in not being able to emulate Jesus is that we somehow fail to develop attributes we really do possess.
If this is a correct hypothesis, then there must have been something unusual that the human Jesus did that enabled him to reach such an extraordinary level of spiritual development – a level that certainly would have permitted him to fuse with his Thought Adjuster by the age of thirty-one, and perhaps long before that. It can only be a guess, but I would suggest that the habit he established during very early childhood of talking to God as a normal child would talk to a loving parent, may have been the means that allowed him to forge an extraordinary link with his Thought Adjuster, and it was this linkage that permitted his remarkable, accelerated spiritual development.
By the age of six, when he was by himself, Jesus was already addressing his Father-God as ‘Abba’, meaning ‘Papa’, and speaking to God in just the same way as he spoke to Joseph – much to the consternation of both his parents. This appears to be the only really unusual thing about the childhood of Jesus. However, it would have represented a ‘culture shock’ to most Jewish families whose God, Yahweh, had caused the slaughter of thousands of the first-born of the Egyptians, wiped out whole populations in the promised land, and punished his chosen people for their waywardness with the cruel captivity in Babylon.
Whatever the reason for Jesus’ exceptional spiritual development, we cannot go back to our childhood to do as he did. So is there another way? The book indicates that there is. In Part 2, it reminds us that…
In every mortal, there exists a dual nature: the inheritance of animal tendencies and the higher urge of spirit endowment. [Paper 2:6.9, page 381.3]
We Urantians suffer from the consequences of a double deprivation due to the Caligastia rebellion and the Adamic default, because of which we are crippled by an inherent nature that does not naturally bear the fruits of the spirit. Such is our state that…
The dead theory of even the highest religious doctrines is powerless to transform us. What the world needs today is the truth that your teacher of old declared, ‘Not in the word only but also in power and in the Holy Spirit’.” [Paper 34:6.6, page 380.6]
The highest religious doctrine is powerless to transform us!! The Urantia Book is the highest religious doctrine available on this planet, and it tells us that, by itself, it is powerless to transform us! To transform ourselves, we must embrace the spirit powers provided to us, but even then:
… it is not enough that this spirit be poured out upon you, the divine Spirit must dominate and control every phase of human experience. [Paper 34:6.7, page 381.1]
This is the area in which we Urantians have been a failure over the last two thousand years. Few indeed have allowed the divine Spirit to dominate and control every phase of their experience, and that despite the revelations of many holy men and women, the revelation of Jesus 2000 years ago, and also despite the new revelation of The Urantia Book.
It is worth taking a few moments to reflect on a fact told us in the book. Prior to the coming of Jesus, human beings were not universally indwelt by their Thought Adjusters immediately following their first moral decision. In fact, the requirements for such indwelling were quite rigorous, and most of us can be eternally thankful that we came into this world after, and not before, the bestowal of Jesus brought us the outpouring of his Spirit of Truth (see 1187).
The fourth and fifth epochal revelations have prepared us for Adjuster indwelling in two ways. The book tells us:
Jesus showed mankind the new way of mortal living whereby human beings may very largely escape the dire consequences of the Caligastia rebellion and most effectively compensate for the deprivations resulting from the Adamic default. The spirit of the life of Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of animal living. [Paper 34:7.6, page 382.6]
First, Jesus showed us a new way, and then he made his Spirit of Truth available to us. The enormous transforming power of that gift of the spirit is illustrated by what happened to the apostles:
…in less than a month after the bestowal of the Spirit of Truth, the apostles made more individual progress than during their almost four years of personal and loving association with the Master.” [Paper 194:2.9, page 2061.7]
That is power indeed – and it is available to all of us, just for the asking. The book tells us …
….. the spirit never creates a consciousness of himself, only a consciousness of Michael, the Son. The proof, therefore, of your fellowship with the Spirit of Truth is not to be found in the consciousness of this spirit but rather in your experience of enhanced fellowship with Michael. [Paper 194:2.4, page 2061.2]
Since we have been told that “all spirit influences are one in function “(380), it is not hard to put two and two together to arrive at the conclusion that we genetically and spiritually deficient Urantians have been given a very special pathway to compensate for our disadvantages by means of a virtually miraculous transformation that can bring us into much closer communion with our Thought Adjusters. That pathway is through Jesus and his Spirit of Truth.
The book says: “Of all human knowledge, that which is of greatest value is to know the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it.” (2090) It is a fact that a phrase such as “doing the will of God”, is empty of real meaning to many Urantians. Neither does the idea of communicating or cooperating with our Thought Adjuster convey anything concrete. How do we achieve these things? If we know the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it, we can substitute real ideas, real concepts, and real images for what otherwise might be nebulous, abstract, or unreal.
The life and teachings of Jesus revealed to us in The Urantia Book is the vital knowledge that can provide us with the means of really knowing the mind of Jesus. In turn, knowing the mind of Jesus enables the Spirit of Truth to make us more and more conscious of Jesus, which, in its turn, enables our superconscious awareness to be in much closer communication with the guiding hand of our Thought Adjuster. Knowing the mind of Jesus provides us with another real advantage. In any situation confronting us, we can ask ourselves: “Now what would Jesus do?” – and seek the answer both from our stored memories of what Jesus taught or did in similar circumstances, as well as by seeking guidance from the spirit forces within. In this way, we backward and disadvantaged Urantians have been endowed with a transforming power by which we can overcome the greatest handicap to our spiritual growth, our innate, inherent, genetic inability to communicate adequately with our Thought Adjusters. The book tells us:
To the children of a local universe a Michael Son is, to all practical intents and purposes, God. He is the local universe personification of the Universal Father and the Eternal Son. [Paper 5:3.6, page 66.2]
It also tells us that all spirit forces are one in function. Hence to focus our minds upon Jesus, who becomes more and more real to us as we familiarize ourselves with his life and teachings, is both a valid and a realistic way of spiritualizing and transforming our minds and souls, and making the spiritual power of the Thought Adjuster effective in our lives.
Getting down to some practical details of what Jesus did during his bestowal mission, possibly that which was of most significance was the changes he made to the second most important of the Hebrew commandments. The first of these was to love God with all your heart and soul; the second, to love your neighbour as yourself. Jesus changed the second one when he commanded his disciples to “love one another as I have loved you “. That change elevated a concept that could be interpreted in purely material terms to one which must be interpreted virtually exclusively at a spiritual level.
So our next task will be to try to discover what Jesus meant by his injunction to love one another as he, representing God, loved us. But since the reality of loving our neighbour is such a complex thing, we can only hope to do this inadequately and in part. We must really know the mind of Jesus in order to fully understand what Jesus meant by loving as he loved us. The book tells us:
Love, unselfishness, must undergo a constant and living readaptative interpretation of relationships in accordance with the leading of the Spirit of Truth. Love must thereby grasp the ever-changing and enlarging concepts of the highest cosmic good of the individual who is loved. [Paper 180:5.10, page 1950.5]
Let us not miss these several important facts. It is the Spirit of Truth that does the leading. Note, too, that love and unselfishness (selflessness) are equated. Last but not least, to love another, we need to want for them not whatever appears best for the present moment, nor even whatever might seem best for their life on this planet. To love our neighbour, we have to want for that person their highest cosmic good, their highest eternal good. Only God can know that. God’s knowledge is not limited by the dimension of time. The human Jesus could achieve such love because he had fully complied with Immanuel’s injunction to “be concerned with but one thing, the unbroken communion between you and your Paradise Father”. Thus the time factor was overcome. To love as Jesus loved us, we too, must cultivate unbroken communion with the spirit forces available to us, which I believe, for us Urantians, means through Jesus and the Spirit of Truth. Only Spirit can transcend time and guide us into love-action that can result in the “highest cosmic good” for the one who is loved.
Both the fourth and the fifth epochal revelations emphasized that we have to ‘be’ before we can ‘do’. In describing events of the night following the ordination of the twelve apostles, The Urantia Book says:
That evening .. Jesus talked at great length, trying to show the twelve what they must be, not what they must do. They knew only a religion that imposed the doing of certain things as the means of attaining righteousness-salvation. But Jesus would reiterate, “In the kingdom you must be righteous in order to do the work”. Many times did he repeat: “Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect”. [Paper 140:10.1, page 1584.4]
When Jesus asked us to be perfect as the Father in heaven is perfect, he was asking that this should be our sincere goal. Even after our mansion world career, we will still have more than a billion years of earth time in front of us before we can stand perfected in the presence of the Father. The book tells us:
What you are today is not so important as what you are becoming day by day and in eternity. [Paper 111:1.5, page 1217.0]
Unless we are utterly sincere about what we are becoming day by day, ultimately we will betray ourselves, we will be seen not to be sincere, and we will be a hindrance rather than a help to the neighbour we are supposed to love.
Perhaps one of the greatest problems we have in being what we ought to be, is that very human characteristic of resentment. What do we feel when a brother or sister appears to throw our love back in our face? If anger and resentment are our response, then we have no hope of letting our love help to light a path for that person. If we are going to ‘be’ before we can ‘do’, the one essential is that we will have already offered our will back to God unconditionally, for unless we embrace and utilize the spirit power available to us, failure is virtually inevitable.
Jesus once said: “Greater love hath no man than this, that he offer his life for a friend” . God already owns our life. Hence, the only possible gift we can make to God that is of true value to our Paradise Father is the consecration of our will to him. The book informs us:
The affectionate dedication of the human will to the doing of the Father’s will is man’s choicest gift to God; in fact, such a consecration of creature will constitutes man’s only possible gift of true value to the Paradise Father. In God, man lives, moves, and has his being,’ there is nothing which man can give to God except this choosing to abide by the Father’s will … [Paper 1:1.2, page 22.5]
Strangely enough, it is only when we so consecrate our wills that we are finally blessed with true freedom. Maybe that needs explanation. To Ganid, Jesus said:
“Ganid, I have absolute confidence in my heavenly Father’s overcare; I am consecrated to doing the will of my Father in heaven. I do not believe that real harm can befall me; I do not believe that my lifework can really be jeopardized by anything my enemies might wish to visit upon me, and surely we have no violence to fear from our friends. I am absolutely assured that the entire universe is friendly to me–this all powerful truth I insist on believing with a wholehearted trust in spite of all appearances to the contrary.” [Paper 133:1.4, page 1470.0]
Now that might seem to be totally unrealistic – like the proverbial ostrich burying its head in the sand at the first sight of danger – but we need to remember that, within a hundred years, Jesus’ teaching had turned the mighty Roman Empire upside down. The revelators choose their words very carefully. When they say, “this all powerful truth” and “in spite of all appearances to the contrary”, that is exactly what is meant.
The human Jesus had consecrated his will to the Father, in whom he had placed total faith. Thus he could take a time-transcending, cosmic viewpoint, even though, being human, he may not have fully understood a particular situation. Therefore, antipathy or antagonism or whatever apparently adverse reactions were being displayed towards him or around him, Jesus could see them as being in God’s hands, a God whom he could trust to ultimately bring good out of apparent evil. And having such trust, the result of offering his will back to God, Jesus was free of those emotional responses by which we lesser beings mess things up – rather than functioning to optimize the good that could be drawn from the situation. If slogans can help, then perhaps “to let go, and to let God” may be a useful peg to stimulate our memories.
I doubt that there is any other way for we humans to become free from destructive self-centredness, anger and resentment, other than giving our wills, our minds, and our lives totally over to God, and having done so, trusting that whatever happens is in his hands. For that, surely, is exactly what Jesus did in following Immanuel’s injunction to exhibit in his short life in the flesh, the transcendent possibilities attainable by a God-knowing human.
Suppressing our emotional responses is only a temporary measure, and often leads to a worse result at a future time. Having faith that God knows what he is doing, and that he can and will utilize all apparently adverse circumstances to generate the maximum cosmic good for all concerned appears to be the way to personal freedom. Letting go and letting God is one way, and perhaps the only way, to rid ourselves of those human emotions that tend to wreck personal relationships. And if we err, as we inevitably will, we can be assured that God can use that too.
However, we have to remember that we cannot use our trust and faith in God as simply a means of self-defence, or self-isolation amounting to a ‘cop-out’ – that would be self-serving, not neighbour-serving, hence contrary to the will of God. If we can find one, we must actively and aggressively seek the positive pathway, which is not a passive tolerance of wrong doing, but the taking of any conceivable action that might assist to overcome evil with good.
Just to get our thoughts back on track, let’s remind ourselves that we are trying to discover how we can love one another as Jesus loves us. Another problem with our human concept of love is that it invariably has an element of self-gain – ranging from something as crude as you-pat my- back-and-I’ll-pat-yours – to the much more subtle motive of doing something to ensure that God accepts us as candidates for eternal life. But God always knows our motives – he can neither be fooled nor bribed.
Since God’s love for us is selfless, a human love that reflects God’s love must also be selfless and concerned only for the highest cosmic good of the one who is loved – regardless of consequences to ourselves. God gives his love even to those who return nothing. God’s love is truly unconditional. Somehow or other, we have to become freed from even the unconscious notion that the recipient of our love is under an obligation to be grateful to us, or to repay us. This very human expectation is a major source, if not the major source, of much human conflict and misery.
When Jesus saw friendliness where others would observe only ingratitude, injustice, or hostility, the human Jesus was taking a cosmic overview in deference to the superior wisdom and knowledge of God. Through his superconscious mind, and his Thought Adjuster, he could strike an attitude liberated from the restrictions and emotions of the moment, an attitude serving the eternal good.
Jesus served as he passed by, he never followed up on such actions, and he never placed people under obligation excepting if they elected, of their own free will, to represent him in the world as he represented the Father. When God gives us his love, the only thing of any possible value that we can return in gratitude for his gift is our will.
Hence when we love another as Jesus loves us, we are trying to love as God loves, and the only valid hope we can have is that the recipient of that love may recognize that its true source is not ourselves, but God. Hence it is to God, and not us, that they owe their gratitude. The value to us is that, as we participate in the reality of God’s love, we become freed from the tyranny of resentment and hurt. The reason? They owe us nothing at all – the love was not ours to give:
All true love is from God, and man receives the divine affection as he himself bestows this love upon his fellows. Love is dynamic. It can never be captured; it is alive, free, thrilling, and always moving. Man can never take the love of the Father and imprison it within his heart. The Father’s love can become real to mortal man only by passing through that man’s personality as he in tum bestows this love upon his fellows. [Paper 117:6.10, page 1289.3]
So if it happened that recipients of our love were, by chance, of equivalent spiritual status to some of those savage human beings at the dawn of mankind’s history, and the return to us was to be eaten for their dinner, then so be it. After all, consider what a highly civilized people did to Jesus – and his response was: “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do”.
Bill Sadler used to say to always keep your hopes high and your expectations low, for if you let them tend to become equal, you are in for one very rough time. We really need to set our expectations, in terms of personal return from the recipient to ourselves, at absolute zero level. Anything else contains an element of selfishness, hence our good works will have no spiritual value, and will count for nothing.
Perhaps that sounds a bit extreme but it is the truth. When we offer ourselves and our will to God, loyalty and service to God becomes our religion, and there can be no half measures. The book tells us:
To isolate part of life and call it religion is to disintegrate life and to distort religion. And this is just why the God of worship claims all allegiance or none. [Paper 102:6.1, page 1124.3]
Jesus death on the cross was the ultimate test, and the ultimate proof of his total allegiance to God. And besides that, it was the ultimate example for us.