April 02, 2014 - Mudslides in Washington State, dozens killed plus dozens more missing and presumed dead. An Airliner disappears, hundreds are presumed dead. Friends are losing their lives to cancer, heart disease and other causes.
Our hearts and our prayers reach out to these people, their family and friends to receive comfort in this time of adversity. May they realize "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7
A pop singer's concert is protested by a religious group prompting me to ask the question, which group was acting more Christian? "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39
One group is protesting against a lifestyle that they abhor based upon their interpretation of Old Testament scripture; an interpretation which may be valid for them but I believe has been taken out of context in modern times to promote a limiting religious view point. "Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get." Matthew 7:1-2
A counter protest by the singer's fans responded with compassion for the death of the religious group's founder, "Sorry for your loss" read one banner, plus hope for the future, "Live your life and be awesome" read a second banner. When I first read this article I had to chuckle. I turned to my wife and said, "There is hope for the future."
"Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment." John 7:24
These two apparently contradicting statements of Jesus, "judge not" and "judge with right judgment" are reconciled within the context of Spiritual Growth. When we are judging others, we are focusing on the outer physical or material plain of existence: the level of appearances.
Our judgment of the outer world is a reflection of our inner world, what we see is what we are: our sense of being. One person sees beauty where another sees ugliness. One person sees love where another sees hate. The Truth is that there is only God; all that is seen came from the unseen: God; all that exists came into being through God; all there is to know is God; "For in him we live and move and have our being." Acts 17:28
In the context of Spiritual Growth, I learn to "not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment." I look beyond the outer appearances, the effects, to the inner causative level of thoughts and feelings. Realizing peace and love are our inner work.
Acting out of peace and love to make our world a better place for all is our outer work. Whether we are waiting tables or running a corporation, if we are not doing so in an awareness of peace and love we are under paid; we are short-changing ourselves. "God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God and God abides in them." 1John 4:16
Our outer world is reflecting the Spiritual Growth of our collective consciousness. In my lifetime we have experienced major shifts in consciousness. Martin Luther King graduated from seminary the year I was born; when I was 18months old Rosa Parks sat on a bus; now we have a black man in the white house.
When I was born, lead based paint was the norm. Since then we have stopped belching leaded gas fumes into the atmosphere. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the good news to every creature." Mark 16:15
In the 1970's we cleaned up rivers and lakes only to see many of them threatened again in recent years. Fracking, in addition to all the other negative consequences, bonds poisonous chemicals to water molecules making this increasingly precious resource unusable for future generations.
The good news is that there is still hope for the future. We are continuing to see the changes in consciousness necessary for us to live in harmony with each other and our environment, to protect our right and ability to survive on this planet.
Live your life and be awesome!
The Rev. Matthew E. Long is pastor of Peace Unity Community