UNITY OF VANCOUVER
“11 Questions of Personal Faith”
The greatest knowledge we can have as human beings is to know that no matter what we face, God is there. Let us know this now. In this room, God is with us. We are not alone. It is impossible to be alone for God is within us. God is in your mind as Wisdom. God is flowing through your feeling nature as Love. God is in the flesh & bone that make up your physical body as Life. God is making miracles happen in & through your every action. This time we are now sharing is a special time we set aside during our hour together to re-connect with God & to feel the wonder & majesty of God right here with us. All of us who are weary or feel heavy laden this morning now turn to God & take off all the heaviness of human burdens & feel God’s protective yoke of light. As you take time to pray, God is making you new. From the center of every cell, your are being revitalized, renewed, & recreated into a higher vibratory force of God. God in you is never depleted or tired & it will never leave you. Feel God’s light refreshing your mind so that you are no longer carrying tired thoughts or tired cells. You are a temple of the Living God & you have love inside of every thought & a crystal clear perception & understanding of the power of God in your thinking & feeling, in your body & your life. You are on a heavenly quest to become not just good or better than yesterday but the best you can possibly be. You are here to be on earth as you are in Heaven. Let us pray: Dear God, Come through us as the purest love, light & life. May our words go forth & embrace others with their wisdom & love. May our ears clearly perceive the beauty & wonder around us. We dwell in the almightiness of You, and as You dwell inside of us, each atom and particle of our being becomes a regeneration of the best we can possibly be. As we draw our prayer time to a close let us give thanks for the miracle of the ever fresh, ever new & ever exciting Living Waters of Life that are ever present in the Silence as revealed to us by our Way shower & Elder Brother. Jesus Christ. Amen.
11 QUESTIONS OF PERSONAL FAITH
According to an ancient story, there were once 4 friends walking in the woods & complaining about their lot in life.” Woe is me,” one said. Another said,” Don’t tell me that, you don’t know my problems. My lot in life is terrible.” All of a sudden, as they were walking in the woods, they came across a high wall. They were very curious because they couldn’t see over the wall. There was wood & tools lying there so they built a ladder. The 1st person climbed up & was amazed at the incredible beauty on the other side of the wall & then he climbed down. The 2nd person climbed up & was also amazed at the beauty. He said it looked like an entirely different world & then he climbed down. The 3rd person climbed up & said everything she had ever prayed for was on the other side of the wall & then she climbed down. The 4th person climbed up the ladder, stood at the top & said” I want a better life & there’s a better life. I’m going over the wall. Come with me! But his 3 friends just shook their heads saying ‘no’ so he waved goodbye & went on alone over the wall & lived happily ever after in the new world. Meanwhile the other 3 friends returned to their walk & usual lot in life complaining all the way.
Noted scholar, Halford Luccock has noticed a significant correlation between physical & spiritual immunity. “In medicine,” he says, “a person can develop immunity against a disease by receiving a very mild dose of that disease. The same thing can be experienced by the Soul. If a person receives nothing more than a small dose of God, he can develop immunity against the life-changing relationship with God that spirituality can provide.
Theologian Leslie Weatherhead echoed this idea when he said; “The trouble with some of us is that we have been inoculated with small doses of Christianity which keeps us from catching the real thing.” How about you? Have you caught the real thing? When you think about who you are, do you most often think about your body, human personality & personal characteristics?
It’s true, they are a part of who you are, but there is something much greater in you. You are simultaneously a spiritual being. You are more than flesh & blood. You are first & foremost a spiritual being made of pure energy. When you truly see yourself, you will see yourself as an expression of God. & when you ‘catch’ the real thing, you will strive to allow your spiritual nature to show in everything you do. & you won’t be fearful anymore because you are pure consciousness on an eternal journey.
One time, Paul visited Athens & he was very upset about what he saw there. I’m reading to you from Acts 17:16-17, 22-30: “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews & the devout persons & in the market place every day with those who chanced to be there. & Said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along & observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as ‘unknown’, this I proclaim to you. The God, who made the world & everything in it, being Lord of heaven & earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life & breath & everything. & he made from one, every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods & the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for “In him we live & move & have our being”; as even some of your poets have said, `For we are indeed his offspring.' Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art & imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent. . . .”
God commands people everywhere to change & to start by consciously thinking about what they are doing & why they are doing it. That command has led to our 11 questions.
QUESTION 1: Can you put your spiritual beliefs into words?
It’s easy to profess faith in God, especially here in church. But what kind of God do you believe in during the secret times? How would you explain your idea of God to a person of another faith? Can you put your profession of faith into words? Do you have a creed you can believe in & live? What spiritual principles do you live by, work by & stand by? Then there are questions regarding your belief about life after death. Do you believe in heaven? Do you believe you will be reunited with those you love, after death? What do you believe about the person & mission of Jesus Christ? What do you believe about His birth & His miracles? His death? His resurrection? It has been proved that a vital religion must be articulate & it is a well-known fact that faith to some individuals is so precious that they are reluctant to talk about it. But for your own personal test, I ask you to think about what you believe & why you believe a particular way.
QUESTION 2: Do you live as though what you believe is true? It is one thing to profess a faith & quite another to practice it. Ask yourself, “How much of my faith is just a mere verbalization of words & terms out of which a lot of meaning has gone.” Unity teaches tithing. Tithing is a test of belief. Either you believe in the spiritual laws that Jesus taught or you don't. William James once said, “The average religious believer has a religion made for him by others, communicated to him by tradition & retained by imitation & habit.”
STORY: A man told a story about when he was a boy on his grandfathers’ farm. His grandfather had a herd of rams in a gated area. He called the boy over & he said, “I want you to watch what’s going to happen now. This is a life lesson. He called the first ram over. The first ram jumped over the gate. Then the grandfather said to the boy, “Watch this.” He opened the gate so it was no longer in the way of the rams, but every ram followed the first ram jumped over the gate that was not there. He said, “Son, throughout your whole life, I want you to think about what you are doing and why.”
High school principal, Max Keller, challenges his students to take initiative in opening new doors to opportunities. He says,” You’ll never get anywhere if you stand around waiting for someone to hand you the remote control.”
QUESTION 3: Does your faith meet your need? (in good times & in times of crisis)
It is easy to be helpful & optimistic when we’re riding the crest. The faith that matters is the kind that sees a person through the bad breaks & guides the person through the valleys. When you rate your faith, ask yourself whether or not it is a stabilizer in times of triumph & tragedy. Just as steel is tempered by plunging it into cold water while it is red-hot, when we emerge from a dark night of the soul experience, we are immeasurably strengthened & I have found it also prepares us to help others. As someone once said” What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”
QUESTION 4: Do you set aside special times for spiritual development?
While faith can’t be put into a box & religion shouldn’t be restricted to certain areas or special hours, people of great faith have always set aside stated times for meditation, prayer, & spiritual exercise. A priest was once asked for the secret of success of Bishop Fulton Sheen. He said, “His strength & influence are generated in silence.” Martin Luther had this famous saying, “If I have 6 hours of work to do, I spend 2 of the hours in prayer 1st.”
In South Africa, on a cliff overlooking Echo Cave stands a grove of 150 year old fig trees that have survived a duel challenge: growing in rock with no apparent source of water. There is no rain here for 6 months of the year & the trees need 6 gallons of water a day just to survive. They get it by sending their roots down through solid rock. Tree roots are genetically programs to know that water lies beneath them & the roots secretes a kind of lubricant to soften the roots path. Fig trees rely mainly on a single taproot to find water. As it grows it explores the rock for cracks & weak spots. It takes a fig tree 70 years to go 150ft & in this location is the deepest known taproot in the world growing to 400ft. As soon as it finds water it stops growing & starts pumping water back up into the tree. Jesus climbed the mountain, prayed & then he came back down & used that spiritual energy to feed & uplift. We can’t remake our lives the way we remodel our homes. We can’t call in an expert to draw up plans & then hire someone else to do the work for us. Nor can we move out while this process is going on & then come back to a finished product. We may get suggestions & advice but we must do the job ourselves. The same instinct that is in the root of the fig tree is in us but as ‘conscious & reflective’ beings with free Will we must choose to set aside times for digging our roots deep into God, whom Jesus called the Source of Living Water. Like the fig tree, once we have our root anchored in that Living Water it will pump continuously into our lives. Most people today are knee deep in water & dying of thirst.
QUESTION 5: Is your home life better because of your religious faith?
Someone once said, “When a person gets religion even his dog & cat ought to see the improvement.” Religious profession should build a happier life. You can rate your faith by asking yourself: “Does my attitude in my home contribute to an atmosphere of affection, mutual respect, & cheerfulness?
QUESTION 6: Does your faith give you a sense of companionship, even in times of solitude?
A common criticism leveled at Americans is that as a group we are afraid to be alone. We are told we don’t want to know ourselves or analyze ourselves. We are accused of looking for continual means of escape. This, we are reminded, accounts for our frenzy for cars, entertainment, radio, TV, especially reality T.V. and our insatiable desire for travel. How about spending time in the silence in solitude? True faith provides a feeling of spiritual consciousness. That is to say, our religion should give us a sense of oneness with the universe & our Creator. How do you rate in this respect? A person is never when he or she is with God & God is everywhere present.
QUESTION 7: Does your faith give you a new outlook on your job & a new approach to your work?
There is an old saying, “Work is worship.” Of what use is religion in the workday world if it doesn’t provide a usable philosophy for you when you are on the job? You can get an appraisal of the vitality of your faith by the way in which you find your place in the work world. How do you fit yourself in that place? How do you devote yourself to it?
This brings to mind a story about a simple-hearted, hardworking nun. She was observed, many years ago, while on a retreat. As the many guests finished eating & piled up the dishes to be washed, the lone nun stood quietly with her arms elbow-deep in sudsy water & listened to a troubled woman pour out her woes. The Nun listened intently while methodically washing plate after plate. I marveled at her patience & acceptance of such an unending, thankless chore. I asked her, “How do you do it, day after day, washing all those dishes alone & still having the patience to listen?” She looked at me & smiled. She said, “I just imagine that I am dipping my hands in the pool of Bethesda.” By focusing her attention on stirring up God’s healing waters, she did her daily chores with serenity & a listening heart & offered care & comfort to everyone she encountered.
QUESTION 8: Does your faith give you a sense of security in meeting life?
STORY: A well-known story about the early career of John Wesley who co-founded with his brother Charles the Methodist movement, which encouraged people to experience Jesus Christ personally, tells of his fear during a storm at sea. He was on board a ship & was terrified with fright. As he shook, he heard a group of Christians singing. They were praising God. Wesley asked them, “How in the world, in a storm like this where we might all perish in the next instant, can you sing? They said to him,” If your faith can’t serve you during a storm, what is the good of it?” To estimate whether your faith is just a fair-weather faith, ask yourself, “How do I react to storms whipped up by worry, fear, finances, relationship problems, health challenges & unexpected emergencies? Does my faith give me a sense of security in meeting life? Does it help me to look inward rather than outward for my Source of security & abundance?
QUESTION 9: Has your faith ever inspired you to do a good deed?
One of the most rewarding acts is to give without a thought of getting, to help without wanting help in return.
A clerk in a supermarket tells this story. She glanced down at the long line waiting at the cash register she was operating at the supermarket. She said, “Dear God, help me to be more like you.” She prayed & thought about the message at church & how she was told in every instance to ask herself, “How would Jesus handle this particular problem?” She scanned a loaf of bread. She said, “That will be $1.09.” There was a small boy in front of her & he dumped a fistful of change onto the counter. As he did this, she heard the others in line say, “I thought this was an express line! I always get in the wrong line? Wouldn’t you know there would be some kid who would ruin my day?” She heard another person say, “It will take her all day to count that kid’s money.” She counted every one of the pennies & he was short 28 cents. She gave him an uneasy look & his cheeks turned pink. Then she asked herself, “What would Jesus do?” Quickly, she picked up the receipt & scribbled on it, “I owe this register 28 cents.” She slipped it into the register along with the boy’s coins. She pressed a paid sticker on the bread & handed it to him. His eyes brightened & he said, “Thank you, ma’am.”The disgruntled complaints of the waiting customers no longer made her nervous because they noticed what she had done & it had changed their day, also. She said, “My heart felt light. It didn’t just last that minute; it lasted the whole day. I had a faith I took with me to work & I had been successful in emulating Jesus on one small occasion.” The finger of God never leaves identical fingerprints. You are the finger of God in every situation.
QUESTION 10: Does your faith command your deepest loyalties?
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous short story, “The Face of the Mountain,” a young boy stares at a face carved in granite & regularly asks tourists in town if they know the identity of the face on the mountain. No one does. Into manhood, midlife, & old age, he continues to gaze on the face at every opportunity, until one day, a tourist passing through exclaims to the once-young boy who is now a weather-beaten old man, “You are the face on the mountain!”
Meister Eckhart put it this way, “The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which He sees me.” It means our highest loyalty should be our recognition of our oneness with God. St. Francis de Sales said, “Remain either in God or close to God without trying to do anything & without asking anything of God unless God urges it.” With which eye do we see ourselves? Which closeness do we wish to stay near? It is all very well to say that we want God to command our highest loyalties no matter where they lead, but how do we react when they do not lead us where we think we ought to go?
QUESTION 11: Is your world different because of your faith?
Ephesians 2:10 "For we are what God has made us." How many cares one leaves behind when one decides not to be something, but to be someone. The bottom line is: “If our religion does not change our world, it very likely has not changed us very much.”
© Unity of Vancouver, 2004 All Rights Reserved.