Proclaiming the Gospel with Power in the 21st Century

(Presented at Urantia Association International Conference in the Netherlands, April 2018

Stand under the waterfall. Allow yourselves to be drenched by the beauty of Jesus’ many-sided gospel. Some of these sides are in this mini-sermon that I sent this morning by spirit email to every European.

We are all part of a world-wide family, evolving toward a high destiny, now going through a difficult and dangerous transition, leading to a new civilization based on post-materialistic meanings and values. Many people are lost, fearful, and angry; but we find the truth and joy and love that we need most in the Source of all creation—because within us is the spirit of God, our Father and our friend. In God we experience motherly love as well as fatherly love, so we have all the more reason to feel free to choose the name for God that fits our personal discovery.

OK. That’s the sermon.

We want the whole world to know the teachings of Jesus, and we know how to proclaim. Jesus bestowed his life upon us; and we shall bestow our lives upon others. We fill our hearts with love, serve as we are able, and speak truth as the opportunity arises. But these opportunities do not arise as often as they could, because society resists the gospel in various ways, and because we have our own difficulties in proclaiming.

So my question for this talk is: How shall we rise to the level of power where our living becomes a proclaiming to the 21st Century?

Here is my answer. Let’s learn to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.

Let’s begin with the heart—the center of our motivation. The heart is where we recognize the values that motivate our choice of foods, films, and friends. To strengthen the heart’s love for God, begin with the thought that we can “know God, receive the divine affection, and love him in return.” [1:0.2, 21.2]

Knowing God is personal. It is not the same as knowledge about God, for example, that he is a creator, controller, and upholder. Knowing him arises through our intimate and personal relationship with him. We put our knowledge about him into this context. We don’t just stare at the idea of a controller. Rather, we gaze into our Father’s presence, rejoicing that he establishes wise laws for every level of creation.

Knowing God feels good. In the friendly energies, we feel the divine affection. As we experience his love, we realize: we can love, too. And we love him in return—naturally. I call this the first circuit of love.

When we love wholeheartedly, affectionate material emotions blend with feelings of soul.

Jesus taught that the soul is the self-reflective, truth-discerning, and spirit-perceiving part of us. All our soul is engaged if we get a self-reflective notification that we need a love upgrade, and then follow through to discern the truth of our situation, and turn within to perceive spirit.

The mind is the arena of choice. If we want to love God with all our mind, we bring together our intuitions into material, intellectual, and spiritual reality to make our best decisions for the Father’s will.

To love God with all our strength, we mobilize physical strength. We call on courage and on the righteousness that we receive from God by faith. And we use “spiritual force to break through all material resistance and to surmount every earthly obstacle to the new life in the spirit.” [166:3.8, 1829.5]

This first circuit, receiving the Father’s love and loving him in return, flows into “the great circuit of love,” “from the Father, through sons to brothers, and hence to the Supreme.” [117:6.10, 1289.3]

To learn to love our brothers and sisters, we follow the golden rule: treat others as you want others to treat you. We learn lessons from all six levels of interpretation.

  1. The first level, the level of the flesh, reminds us of our own unbeautifulness, arising from our material urges and selfish impulses. When ugliness begins to creep into our relation with another person, we ask, “If I were that person, how would I like to be treated?”
  1. Second comes the level of the feelings of the heart, especially sympathy and pity. Jesus expressed these feelings in a way that was uplifting. He developed sympathy by going to extraordinary lengths in getting to know people.
  1. Third, the level of mind brings in reason and experience. Jesus required the apostles to learn the way he had learned, gaining experience in personal ministry before preaching publically on social media.

And just as the Master taught them to understand the scriptures of their people, we should understand gems in other people’s sources of inspiration—religious, New Age, and secular.

  1. Fourth, the level of brotherly love is wholehearted social service growing out of the consciousness of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Brotherly love is prepared to serve anyone; especially “overburdened, anxious, and dejected mortals.”[ 132:4.2,1460.6]
  1. Fifth is the moral level. We can be sympathetic, experienced, sharp in reasoning, and active in service—and still not be wise. In the moral level we “attain true philosophic levels of interpretation.” [147:4.8, 1651.2] We “show adequate respect for the experience and endowments” [107:3.4, 1179.7] of the authors of the Papers; they repeatedly express what I call the principle of receptivity: Adjust your teaching to the other person’s capacity of receptivity. And we are “considerate of the limitations and inexperience” [107:3.5, 1179.8] of those we hope to teach.

Said Jesus to the miller,

In your living and loving ministry, serve spiritual food in attractive form, and suited to the capacity of receptivity of each of your inquirers”. [Paper 133:4.2, page 1474.2]

The receptivity principle means don’t overteach. Don’t try to show the beauties of the temple to those who are not in the temple. Jesus became “expert in the divine art of revealing his Paradise Father to all ages and stages of mortal creatures.” [127:6.15, 1405.7] Thus, we normally make sure that someone has joined the spiritual family of God before we introduce The Urantia Book.

  1. Now we are ready for level six, the spiritual level: to treat others with Fatherly love, as Jesus would treat them.

Jesus usually expressed love with patience and gentleness; but sometimes his messengers needed needed more power. At Archelais, he spoke with great earnestness, saying, “Even divine love has its severe disciplines.” [143:1.4, 1608.1]. After his impassioned preaching, their message immediately took on “a new note of courageous dominance,” [143:1.9, 1609.1] and they acquired “the spirit of positive aggression in the new gospel.” [143:1.9, 1609.1]

Fleeing through northern Galilee, they needed another injection of power, and at one point he sharply criticized them, not in anger and contempt, but in the dyamism of true religion.

How much of this applies to us?

“You who have professed entrance into the kingdom of heaven are altogether too vacillating and indefinite in your teaching conduct. If you desire to enter the kingdom, why do you not take it by spiritual assault even as the heathen take a city they lay siege to? You are hardly worthy of the kingdom when your service consists so largely in an attitude of regretting the past, whining over the present, and vainly hoping for the future. Why do the heathen rage? Because they know not the truth. Why do you languish in futile yearning? Because you obey not the truth. Cease your useless yearning and go forth bravely doing that which concerns the establishment of the kingdom.” [Paper 155:1.3, page 1725.4]

Shall we obey Jesus’ call to join the gospel movement? The Urantia Book movement is not the same as the gospel movement.

Divine love will lead us through every difficulty. The ecological crisis makes it hard to believe in evolutionary progress toward a high destiny. The suffering of immigrants and refugees and their host communities makes many people wonder where God is. Social, economic, and political tensions make it difficult to believe in the brotherhood of man. And secularist hostility and other factors makes it tough to communicate the Fatherhood of God.

We do not know how violent the storms that are brewing will become. And we do not know when the spiritual renaissance will blossom forth. But we shall “depend wholly on Jesus for safe conduct throughout the unrevealed vicissitudes” [120:1.3, 1325.5], of the 21st century. He said, “In the gospel of the kingdom there resides the mighty Spirit of Truth.” [178:1.6, 1930.3]. There’s the power we need in order to proclaim by how we live and what we say.

Our lives rise to the level of proclaiming when we receive and return the love of the Father, and reveal it to others, and thus to the Supreme. Feel supremacy in this final quote. The Spirit of Truth endows

…mortal man with the power to forgive personal injuries, to keep sweet in the midst of the gravest injustice, to remain unmoved in the face of appalling danger, and to challenge the evils of hate and anger by the fearless acts of love and forbearance. [Paper 194:3.12, page 2064.4].

Are you ready? Let’s learn this together!

Now, in your group discussion I ask you to do three things. First on your sheet of paper, on the right side, list difficulties that we have in proclaiming. Second, on the left side, list teachings of Jesus that address these difficulties. And third, discuss how these teachings minister to those difficulties.

Thank you for cooperating in the Spirit of Truth!