One of the few topics that we are told led to Jesus being stirred within his spirit was the inference that we should all see alike. When asked by James Zebedee Master, how shall we learn to see alike and thereby enjoy more harmony among ourselves? (141:5.1) Jesus replied:
“James, James, when did I teach you that you should all see alike? I have come into the world to proclaim spiritual liberty to the end that mortals may be empowered to live individual lives of originality and freedom before God. I do not desire that social harmony and fraternal peace shall be purchased by the sacrifice of free personality and spiritual originality. What I require of you, my apostles, is spirit unity—and that you can experience in the joy of your united dedication to the wholehearted doing of the will of my Father in heaven. You do not have to see alike or feel alike or even think alike in order spiritually to be alike. Spiritual unity is derived from the consciousness that each of you is indwelt, and increasingly dominated, by the spirit gift of the heavenly Father. Your apostolic harmony must grow out of the fact that the spirit hope of each of you is identical in origin, nature, and destiny.
“In this way you may experience a perfected unity of spirit purpose and spirit understanding growing out of the mutual consciousness of the identity of each of your indwelling Paradise spirits; and you may enjoy all of this profound spiritual unity in the very face of the utmost diversity of your individual attitudes of intellectual thinking, temperamental feeling, and social conduct. Your personalities may be refreshingly diverse and markedly different, while your spiritual natures and spirit fruits of divine worship and brotherly love may be so unified that all who behold your lives will of a surety take cognizance of this spirit identity and soul unity; they will recognize that you have been with me and have thereby learned, and acceptably, how to do the will of the Father in heaven. You can achieve the unity of the service of God even while you render such service in accordance with the technique of your own original endowments of mind, body, and soul.
“Your spirit unity implies two things, which always will be found to harmonize in the lives of individual believers: First, you are possessed with a common motive for life service; you all desire above everything to do the will of the Father in heaven. Second, you all have a common goal of existence; you all purpose to find the Father in heaven, thereby proving to the universe that you have become like him.” [ Paper 141:5.1-3, page 1591.6 emphases added]
It seems that Jesus had difficulty in getting this through to the apostles:
Many times during the training of the twelve Jesus reverted to this theme. Repeatedly he told them it was not his desire that those who believed in him should become dogmatized and standardized in accordance with the religious interpretations of even good men. Again and again he warned his apostles against the formulation of creeds and the establishment of traditions as a means of guiding and controlling believers in the gospel of the kingdom. [Paper 141:5.4, page 1592.2]
There is something so comfortable in being with people who appear to think the same way as we do. And with the knowledge gleaned from The Urantia Book we know that Jesus’ message to the whole local universe was the message of his gospel – God is our Universal Father, and we are all his children, attainment of salvation is by faith, and faith alone. Further, God’s desire is for us all to learn to love as Jesus did, and to attune our will to his will for us – to be perfect as our beloved Universal Father is as exemplified by Jesus as the Son of Man – our inspiration as to what a human being totally committed to doing God’s will can become.
The problem arises when we discover that others have a different definition of God, and/or his will for them, their role in relation to others, and other’s role in relation to them, followed by them then regarding the aforementioned as a Universal Truth that should be embraced by all. It is as if ‘the other’ doing so affirms their truth as The Truth.
It is as if we become emotionally and intellectually attached to our definitions and then want to inflict them upon others as The Truth, rather than our truth at this point in time. We have the need to label their differing views as ‘wrong’ or become insecure in the possibility that ours may be ‘wrong’.
We also seem to feel that we need to, (a) suppress our viewpoints as the price of achieving harmony with them, (b) convert them, or (c) dismiss interaction with them, relegating it to be of no value.
As the prime subject of my research into how the human being thinks, I watch myself, again and again, listening to another’s viewpoint on a ‘religious/spiritual’ topic, the certitude or conviction in their tone that they are speaking a universal truth, followed by my expressing my opinion in relation to a topic. On a passionate topic like religion, on many occasions the discussion quickly deteriorates into a significant debate into who is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong’ with a bias to display absolutely no respect for the other’s current reality, in our need to educate them in the error of their belief.
This is despite Jesus never doing this. To him, “.…the true teacher maintains his intellectual integrity by ever remaining a learner.” (130:3.7, 1433.2)
I amaze myself in how I can so quickly become emotionally attached to my viewpoint and dismiss another’s differing opinion as being born of ignorance, accompanied by a penchant on my part to infer this to them.
And yet if they phrase an opinion on any topic as a universal “everyone believes” I get very much stirred in mind and abruptly interject with “I don’t!” This more often than not is found offensive, constructionistic, uninformed, or adversarial and divisive on my part.
A beautiful example of this human tendency is provided by Simon when he initially interacted with Teherma whom he looked upon (the Persian) as a “fire worshiper,” although Teherma took great pains to explain that fire was only the visible symbol of the Pure and Holy One. (141.6.1). In my current interpretation of The Urantia Book it seems that Simon was not convinced or that Teherma did not think that he was.
Hence when Simon later asked Jesus why it was that Teherma had resisted him but that after talking with Jesus … signified his intention of remaining for several days to hear the teaching and listen to the preaching. (141:6.1, 1592.3)
“Simon, Simon, how many times have I instructed you to refrain from all efforts to take something out of the hearts of those who seek salvation? How often have I told you to labor only to put something into these hungry souls? Lead men into the kingdom, and the great and living truths of the kingdom will presently drive out all serious error. When you have presented to mortal man the good news that God is his Father, you can the easier persuade him that he is in reality a son of God. And having done that, you have brought the light of salvation to the one who sits in darkness. Simon, when the Son of Man came first to you, did he come denouncing Moses and the prophets and proclaiming a new and better way of life? I came not to take away that which you had from your forefathers but to show you the perfected vision of that which your fathers saw only in part.” [Paper 141:6.2, page 1592.4]
After reading The Urantia Book I appreciated how important it was to respect and strive to understand my brothers’ and sisters’ religious philosophy, as recommended by The Urantia Book.
Reared a Catholic I had a rough idea of this religion and, having a friend who decided to convert to Catholicism in the early 2000’s, was able to appreciate the amazing transfer of emphasis from Jesus as the Son of God to Jesus as The Son of Man that has occurred, commencing at around the late 1960’s in this religion (thanks to people such as Thomas Merton).
So, I read on most other religions, including reading their ‘holy books’, plus lots of New Age beliefs. To aid in this process I had the record of Jesus’ and Ganid’s project of seeking the best in holy books and writings. I discovered such gems, such as Jesus being regarded in the Islamic faiths as the most beloved of Allah’s prophets, as exemplified by his being taken to Heaven alive.
I have found that reading about other religions has aided me in respecting that no one needs converting, and how important it is only to give advice if asked for, and phrase it as “this is my current belief”.
And the fact that I am continually learning and will never know The Truth is exhilarating in that I don’t have to change this goal for eternity.
more articles of Cecilia Ann Bendall can be found in the archives of Innerface International