Walking the R.O.P.E – An Invitation to Intimacy with God

Julian was the main organiser of the 2022 ANZURA Conference in Tasmania and opened with this keynote address.

I would like to begin by saying that I believe this theme, this topic, is the most important one in the entire universe. Perhaps this is an overstatement, but I hope that after reading the article, you will understand where I’m coming from, and maybe even agree with me. I believe it is the reason for the universe itself existing and ultimately, why we exist at all.

The Urantia Book tells us that billions of years ago, our Creator Son, Michael of Nebadon, who later incarnated on our planet as Jesus of Nazareth, was given his ‘patch of turf’ by the Universal Father on which to create his own personal universe. Moreover, he was given the mandate to bring forth millions upon millions of children for the Father, sentient mortal beings of evolutionary origin who would be capable of having a personal, intimate relationship with an indwelling  fragment of the Universal Father….our Thought Adjuster. These evolutionary, animal-origin children made from the dust of the earth would be created according to divine mandate “in the image of God” and would be required to be perfect as the Universal Father is perfect. (1:0.3, 21.3)

An extraordinary challenge, to say the least! We are further told that Michael, together with his universe consort, the Divine Minister or Universe Mother Spirit, appointed power directors and energy controllers to build a physical universe consisting of constellations, solar systems, and individual planets. (32:2.2, 358.4) Once these planets developed conditions conducive to the formation of life, Life Carriers were dispatched with the task of initiating and overseeing the evolution of living, biological systems. (58:1.1, 664.2) In collaboration with the seven adjutant mind spirits, the Life Carriers worked tirelessly to bring about animal-origin creatures having minds that were capable of interacting with absolute deity, the indwelling Father fragment. But before this could happen, these first human creatures were immediately encircuited within the protective and nurturing embrace of the Holy Spirit, the personal spirit of the Divine Minister. Nevertheless, due to the deleterious effects of the Lucifer rebellion and the Adamic default, initially only exceptional humans were indwelt by Thought Adjusters. In general, humans were not capable of experiencing personal and intimate communion with Thought Adusters. (108:2.2-3, 1187.1-2)

But this all changed when Michael himself, during his seventh and final bestowal, poured out the Spirit of Truth on the day of Pentecost. This triggered a mass migration of Thought Adjusters from Paradise to Urantia; now all normal-minded humans would be indwelt by the Universal Father via his personal Spirit – what is described in the book as “the mystery of mysteries” (1:4.1, 26.3) The scene was now set for God’s physical children to become his spiritual children, to be born again into a personal, intimate, and unique relationship with their heavenly Father. (34:5.1-6, 379.1-6)

God Is Calling Us to Intimacy

But for this to take place, one thing would be needed which even the First Source and Centre of the universe could not provide. A free-will decision by the creature to reciprocate, to seek intimate fellowship with the Creator. Given all that God has done to make such a relationship possible, surely it could be said that…

It is high time that man had a religious experience so personal and so sublime that it could be realized and expressed only by ‘feelings that lie too deep for words.’ [Paper 99:5.9; page 1091.8]

This is surely a call to intimacy with our Father. It is like when romantic couples, soul mates, experience a oneness in their relationship that seems to go beyond verbal expression, so that they are able to commune together without having to utter a word. The Sufis, the mystical branch of Islam, speak of God (Allah) as the Beloved and they become his lovers: “Sufism is the attribute of those who love. The lover is someone who is purified by love, free of himself and his own qualities, and fully attentive to the Beloved.” [Kabir Helminski, Living Presence] Could it be that our Father desires to have such an intimate, romantic relationship with us, not just as his beloved children, but also as his lovers? How else could we explain extraordinary statements like these: …unless a divine lover lived in man, he could not unselfishly and spiritually love. (196:3.16, 2094.15) emphasis added] and Worship is the act of the son’s personal communion with the divine Father, the assumption of refreshing, creative, fraternal, and romantic attitudes by the human soul-spirit.  (143:7.8, 1616.10 emphasis added)  

Does this not emphasize that God, our heavenly Father, is also our lover, and desires a personal, intimate, and romantic relationship with each one of us? Statement after statement in the book confirms that the Universal Father loves us infinitely, eternally, and unconditionally. God truly loves us with an affection that is beyond our understanding.

Our Father Wants to Be Found

Our Father is not in hiding; he is not in arbitrary seclusion. He has mobilized the resources of divine wisdom in a never-ending effort to reveal himself to the children of his universal domains. There is an infinite grandeur and an inexpressible generosity connected with the majesty of his love which causes him to yearn for the association of every created being who can comprehend, love, or approach him…. [Paper 5:1.2, page 62.4] 

God has created our universe in order to reveal himself to us; he truly yearns for our fellowship, just as any loving Father would yearn to spend time with his children. 

Mortal man cannot possibly know the infinitude of the heavenly Father. Finite mind cannot think through such an absolute truth or fact. But this same finite human being can actually feel–literally experience–the full and undiminished impact of such an infinite Father’s LOVE. [Paper 3:4.6, page 50.4]

We have been created with a mind and sensory system that is capable of experiencing divine love. God has made the initial approach. God has done everything to enable us to find him. We are invited to embark on a personal search for God within our own personal experience. God wants to be found, and when we do find him, we realize that we have made the greatest discovery that a human can make.

I have called upon you to be born again, to be born of the spirit. I have called you out of the darkness of authority and the lethargy of tradition into the transcendent light of the realization of the possibility of making for yourselves the greatest discovery possible for the human soul to make — the supernal experience of finding God for yourself, in yourself, and of yourself, and of doing all this as a fact in your own personal experience. And so may you pass from death to life, from the authority of tradition to the experience of knowing God; thus will you pass from darkness to light, from a racial faith inherited to a personal faith achieved by actual experience; and thereby will you progress from a theology of mind handed down by your ancestors to a true religion of spirit which shall be built up in your souls as an eternal endowment. [Paper 155:6.3, page 1731.1] 

How Do We Enter the Rope?

Remember, we have been called to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect. But how is this possible, given our very lowly status in the universe? Only through our willingness to allow the Father to transform us incrementally into his image, a process that begins now, and then continues throughout our personal ascending journey to Paradise. However, our transformation can only occur when we are in spiritual communion with our Ultimate Source. And we need to progress. Progress is the name of the game! We can’t stop still. Progress is the watchword of the universe! (4:1.2, 54.5)

For most of us however, the question arises: how do we enter into and maintain this personal experience of communion with the Father? For the vast majority of us, living in our minds is a moment by moment struggle to escape the constant clamouring of the ego self for attention. (3:5.13, 51.12). God seems distant, remote, unreachable. And yet we are told that the Father wants to be found, to be experienced.

Maybe our attitude is the problem. Jesus explained:

Many of your brethren have minds which accept the theory of God while they spiritually fail to realize the presence of God. And that is just the reason why I have so often taught you that the kingdom of heaven can best be realized by acquiring the spiritual attitude of a sincere child. It is not the mental immaturity of the child that I commend to you but rather the spiritual simplicity of such an easy-believing and fully-trusting little one. It is not so important that you should know about the fact of God as that you should increasingly grow in the ability to feel the presence of God. [Paper 155:6.12, page 1732.5]

Perhaps the reality is that we view God more as a theological or philosophical theory rather than a real person. We give more weight to knowing facts about God rather than experiencing the very presence of God. With children, it’s the other way around. Knowing that their parents love them, young children are fully trusting of and bask in the affection of their parents. They exhibit a delightful informality and honesty in their relationships; they seem to have little interest in the so-called facts about their parents. All that matters to them is that they are truly loved!

The Adjuster’s Dilemma

The God fragment that dwells within us works tirelessly to establish meaningful communication with our personalities via the human mind. But unfortunately, the medium, our electro-chemical brains, makes this very difficult, if not impossible. It’s a bit like trying to listen to the world’s most exquisite classical music via a home-made crystal set. The reproduction is often of very poor quality and we frequently struggle to get the station. This observation by a solitary messenger identifies the human problem and is surely an indictment of our modern culture.

Adjusters are playing the sacred and superb game of the ages; they are engaged in one of the supreme adventures of time in space. And how happy they are when your co-operation permits them to lend assistance in your short struggles of time as they continue to prosecute their larger tasks of eternity. But usually, when your Adjuster attempts to communicate with you, the message is lost in the material currents of the energy streams of human mind; only occasionally do you catch an echo, a faint and distant echo, of the divine voice. [Paper 110:3.1, page 1205.5] 

I cannot but observe that so many of you spend so much time and thought on mere trifles of living, while you almost wholly overlook the more essential realities of everlasting import, those very accomplishments which are concerned with the development of a more harmonious working agreement between you and your Adjusters. [Paper 110:3.4, page 1206.2]

Does that mean that it is futile to attempt intimate communication with the Father’s spirit given these quotes? Not at all! If that were true, then what would be the point of the following statements:

The success of your Adjuster in the enterprise of piloting you through the mortal life and bringing about your survival depends not so much on the theories of your beliefs as upon your decisions, determinations, and steadfast faith. All these movements of personality growth become powerful influences aiding in your advancement because they help you to co-operate with the Adjuster; they assist you in ceasing to resist. [Paper 110:3.2, page 1205.6] 

The great goal of human existence is to attune to the divinity of the indwelling Adjuster; the great achievement of mortal life is the attainment of a true and understanding consecration to the eternal aims of the divine spirit who waits and works within your mind. [Paper 110:3.4, page 1206.2] 

What we are being asked to do is cooperate with our Adjusters! We can do this by consciously making choices and decisions that enable our God fragment to overcome the impediments of our mortal minds. Our Father is not so much  interested in our knowledge, our belief systems, or what we have achieved so far in our earthly existence. God is concerned with our soul’s desire. What is the treasure within our hearts? What do we yearn for deep within our very being?

It is not so much that man is conscious of God as that man yearns for God that results in universe ascension. What you are today is not so important as what you are becoming day by day and in eternity. [Paper 111:1.5, page 1216.6]

The Ultimate Search

God yearns for us and we need to yearn for God! This is the language of intimate personal union between lovers. There is no greater goal in life than our search for the God who indwells us.

Men all too often forget that God is the greatest experience in human existence. Other experiences are limited in their nature and content, but the experience of God has no limits save those of the creature’s comprehension capacity, and this very experience is in itself capacity enlarging. When men search for God, they are searching for everything. When they find God, they have found everything. [Paper 117:6.9, page 1289.2] 

What would we be prepared to pay for the greatest experience in human existence? Perhaps our time, some of our worldly possessions, or our social status? Remember, whatever our treasure is, that will be the content of our heart’s desire. (165:5.4, 1823.4) Jesus alluded to this in one of his shortest parables about the kingdom:

“The kingdom of heaven is also like a merchant seeking goodly pearls; and having found one pearl of great price, he went out and sold everything he possessed that he might be able to buy the extraordinary pearl.” [Paper 151:4.5, page 1694.3] 

The merchant found something that was so precious to him that he was willing to sell everything else he had in order to purchase it. Finding God, knowing God, experiencing God intimately is the ultimate purpose of life and is therefore worth devoting all our resources to personally realize.

Contrary to what many believe, The Urantia Book, while warning us about extreme practices, actually endorses spiritual practices that enhance the cultivation of God consciousness, what we might refer to as mysticism.

Mysticism, as the technique of the cultivation of the consciousness of the presence of God, is altogether praiseworthy….. [Paper 91:7.1, page 1000.2] 

Jesus himself practiced a form of mysticism, — “intelligent prayer and sincere worship” — as a means of obtaining “unbroken communion with God”, the consciousness of the presence of God.

The secret of his unparalleled religious life was this consciousness of the presence of God; and he attained it by intelligent prayer and sincere worship — unbroken communion with God — and not by leadings, voices, visions, or extraordinary religious practices. [Paper 196:0.10, page 2088.5 emphasis added]

Uniqueness Within Diversity

Our Father does not desire uniformity of belief among his children; he is not interested in producing spiritual clones. Our relationship with God is so individual and personal, we are loved as if we were the only son or daughter in the entire universe. And yet, God doesn’t have favourites in his cosmic family. We cannot assert that our perception or experience of God is more special or superior to anyone else’s. There is no justification for division or tribalism within the kingdom of God.

Since true religion is a matter of personal spiritual experience, it is inevitable that each individual religionist must have his own and personal interpretation of the realization of that spiritual experience. [Paper 99:5.7, page 1091.6]

In reality, every human being defines religion in the terms of his own experiential interpretation of the divine impulses emanating from the God spirit that indwells him, and therefore must such an interpretation be unique and wholly different from the religious philosophy of all other human beings. [Paper 103:1.1, page 1129.8]  

Righteousness Through Transformation

Let us not forget that the Master was wholly concerned with the ROPE, the religion of personal experience. He came to reveal his Father, to invite us and show us how to enter into a personal and consecrated relationship with God. He constantly challenged the human ego’s preoccupation with trying to achieve righteousness by obedience to law. Only by communion with spirit can we truly love and serve our brothers and sisters with the same devotion that God shows to us. When we fellowship and fraternize with God, we are so transformed, that our service to others feels like “natural fruits” rather than self-conscious works of righteousness. [Paper 170:5.12, page 1865.2] 

Jesus was never concerned with morals or ethics as such. He was wholly concerned with that inward and spiritual fellowship with God the Father which so certainly and directly manifests itself as outward and loving service for man. He taught that the religion of the kingdom is a genuine personal experience which no man can contain within himself that the consciousness of being a member of the family of believers leads inevitably to the practice of the precepts of the family conduct, the service of one’s brothers and sisters in the effort to enhance and enlarge the brotherhood.
[Paper 170:3.9, page 1862.6] 

Are You Ready for the Adventure?

We can only find God through personal spiritual experience, as the Ultimate Source of all reality reveals him/herself to us. But it’s not an easy road! The human ego naturally seeks out security, certainty, comfort, and social inclusion. Walking the ROPE requires a willingness to transcend our natural fears and trust the process of spirit guidance and direction. Notwithstanding these seemingly daunting but exhilarating challenges, the rewards are inestimable.

And for a long time there will live on earth those timid, fearful, and hesitant individuals who will prefer thus to secure their religious consolations, even though, in so casting their lot with the religions of authority, they compromise the sovereignty of personality, debase the dignity of self-respect, and utterly surrender the right to participate in that most thrilling and inspiring of all possible human experiences: the personal quest for truth, the exhilaration of facing the perils of intellectual discovery, the determination to explore the realities of personal religious experience, the supreme satisfaction of experiencing the personal triumph of the actual realization of the victory of spiritual faith over intellectual doubt as it is honestly won in the supreme adventure of all human existence — man seeking God, for himself and as himself, and finding him. [Paper 155:5.10, page 1729.5] 

Intimacy Through Worship

We are most intimate and most personal with our Creators when we are in a state of worship. Worship is really a celebration of our intimate and joyous relationship with our Father. It can lead to an experience of pleasure and delight which cannot be described by mere words. The quality of this experience is determined by the extent to which we have embraced the ROPE! Our capacity to do this will vary from person to person but it will be a unique experience.

Worship is the conscious and joyous act of recognizing and acknowledging the truth and fact of the intimate and personal relationships of the Creators with their creatures. The quality of worship is determined by the depth of creature perception; and as the knowledge of the infinite character of the Gods progresses, the act of worship becomes increasingly all-encompassing until it eventually attains the glory of the highest experiential delight and the most exquisite pleasure known to created beings. [Paper 27:7.1, page 303.5]

I mentioned earlier in this article that for us to make progress, to be transformed into the image of our perfect Creator, we must enter into a personal and intimate relationship with God, what I have designated as the ROPE. As we fully enter into that experience we move into worship. Jesus taught this fundamental truth to his disciples:

The spirit of the Father speaks best to man when the human mind is in an attitude of true worship. Worship, taught Jesus, makes one increasingly like the being who is worshiped. Worship is a transforming experience whereby the finite gradually approaches and ultimately attains the presence of the Infinite. [Paper 146:2.17, page 1641.1]

It is in the act of worship that the soul and the spirit fraternize as lovers, fueled by romantic attitudes as they engage in personal communion via the worship experience.

Worship is the act of the son’s personal communion with the divine Father, the assumption of refreshing, creative, fraternal, and romantic attitudes by the human soul-spirit.  [Paper 143:7.8, page 1616.10] 

Jesus’ simple but profound message to the world was all about the ROPE. What an unspeakable privilege that the God of all creation seeks a personal, intimate and transforming relationship with each one of us. The question that always remains is: will we reciprocate?

I have come, not to reveal the Father to the children of Israel, but rather to bring this knowledge of God and the revelation of his love and mercy to the individual believer as a genuine personal experience. The prophets have all taught you that Yahweh cares for his people, that God loves Israel. But I have come among you to proclaim a greater truth, one which many of the later prophets also grasped, that God loves you — every one of you — as individuals. All these generations have you had a national or racial religion…. now have I come to give you a personal religion. [Paper 145:2.4, page 1629.5 emphasis added]