Kathleen introduced the concept of service this morning. My job is to elaborate on this theme, and offer some of my own thoughts on the subject.
One way of looking at what we are actually doing here on Urantia is that we are participating in the construction of a universe—the Grand Universe. We are part of a huge team of collaborators engaged in the task of bringing this universe into the state of Light and Life so that the Supreme Being can emerge fully as a personality, take full and direct control of this creation, and in conjunction with the Ultimate, begin the evolution of the outer space levels. It is true that as mortals the part we play is not very significant, but it is, in its small way, essential in the greater scheme of things. We are essential participants in a mighty work, and an enormous number of co-workers are depending on us to do our bit. A glance at the lists on pages 335-338 of The Urantia Book will remind us of the huge number and variety of these personalities, and the fact that our part is small should not allow us to forget its necessity.
Our faith vision of this work, and the part we play in it is our Inspiration. We play a small but essential part in the building of a universe. It is our problem to decide how we are to do this. Somehow we have to down-step our inspiration to the level of everyday life. It is in everyday life that we choose and act, and it is here that we apply our inspiration. Whatever we do which sincerely attempts to apply it is Service. To the extent that we cooperate with our celestial collaborators, we are being of service; to the extent that we don’t, we are irrelevant.
Down-stepping our inspiring vision to the level of everyday life is no easy task—in fact it is a constant struggle “with the incessant clamouring of an inescapable self for recognition and honour.” [Paper 3:5.13, page 51:12] Our vision doesn’t make much allowance for recognition and honour. It calls for self-forgetfulness. But we have animal body/ emotion systems which know nothing but this selfish clamour. That is our nature, and our nature is inescapable. So service is a constant struggle to compel our animal nature to serve the higher aims of our great inspiring vision. We often fail. But when we succeed the resulting “warm inner glow” makes that struggle worthwhile a hundred times over.
To translate such a grand vision to the mundane level of daily life requires a lot of compromise, and we make compromises according to our personal circumstances. Thus we all serve differently. And this is an area in which we can all be creative. In fact we all create quite different modes of service because we are each unique persons, and our compromises reflect this.
In Melbourne a couple of years ago, Bob Reynolds gave an instructive presentation distinguishing between an individual’s “Circle of Interest” and his “Circle of Influence.” We all have an interest in building The Grand Universe; but, let’s face it, we have somewhat more influence over building Urantia, and in particular over running our own households and occupations, where our daily lives are lived. We are interested in our great vision. It is that which inspires us to collaborate with our fellow universe builders by serving where we have influence, in the mundane matters of daily life.
We need to remember that any occupation or activity can be a platform for service. There are actually as many ways of serving as there are people to do it. Jesus pointed this out in his words to the innkeeper on page1475:
To the mistress of the Greek inn he said:
“Minister your hospitality as one who entertains the children of the Most High. Elevate the drudgery of your daily toil to the high levels of a fine art through the increasing realization that you minister to God in the persons whom he indwells by his spirit which has descended to live within the hearts of men, thereby seeking to transform their minds and lead their souls to the knowledge of the Paradise Father of all these bestowed gifts of the divine spirit.” [Paper 133:4.8, page 1475.1]
Service is not so much what is done, as the spirit in which it is done. Whatever is done which is inspired by the vision of universe building is service. For most of us most of the time this involves service of our fellow men, this being the most common avenue of service. Love is the desire to do good to others [Paper 56:10.21, page 648:4], and service of our fellows is the natural expression of this.
But there are forms of service not immediately connected with other people, though in the end we all benefit from it, of course. Political and administrative work, artistic work, maybe even physical work, are all forms of service if inspired by the spirit of service, and if (consciously or unconsciously) collaborating in the great work of universe building.
But most of the time, service involves the people around us in daily life, and in my opinion it is important to perform this service quite as ourselves, without pretension. The Father has bestowed on each of us a unique personality. He wants to see us living our lives— not our imitation of Mother Teresa or Francis of Assisi living our lives. I’ll really stick my neck out and suggest that He doesn’t even want to see our imitation of Jesus living our lives. He wants to see the personality He gave us struggling with life’s problems and difficulties, and serving in the way of our own devising. He gave us our personality so that it is we who learn and serve, and in His plan there is a part for all of us to play. Having been given a unique personality, we can pay people the respect of letting them see it. The effectiveness of service is reinforced if no attempt is made to hide it.
In conclusion, as with everything else in life, service boils down to doing the will of the Universal Father. If there is confusion in our attempts to serve, if we don’t know what to do, or how to do it, the solution is the same as that for all our other difficulties—to do our best to discover the Father’s will in the matter, and to be creative in finding a way to do that will. The compromises we must make in down-stepping our vision to the practical level of daily life ultimately depend on how we interpret the Father’s will. And surely, this is exactly what we would expect, isn’t it?