Unification Sermons and Talks
by The Reverends Gehring
The Death and Resurrection of Church Members
Rev. John W. Gehring-NYC
This sermon was given at the University of Bridgeport on March 22, 1998.
We are entering the Easter season, a season that has the most profound meaning for Christians. It is a celebration of life and the victory of love over the power of death.
There are many lessons that we can learn from the life of Jesus-especially for the many of us that do not come from a Christian background. What we can learn from Jesus can help us in our life of faith, as it has helped millions of people for nearly 2000 years.
Many of us have had the opportunity to know and work with Reverend and Mrs. Moon and in some part, we have tried to model our lives on the pattern of sacrifice that they have set. Through our efforts at trying to life for the sake of others, opportunities arise that allow us to better grasp the meaning of the life of Jesus. Additionally, through Rev. Moons explanation of Jesus difficult life we can more closely understand his heart.
God, Jesus and the World
One of the most quoted bible passages states: "for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son." There is a clarity and a certainty in this statement. God loved this world, and the world means all those who live in it, the good, the bad and even the ugly!
Yet when we think more deeply about this, we need to realize who did God love more; the fallen world or His own precious son. God must have loved his son more then the anyone or anything in the world because the world, centered on fallen man, had a relationship with Satan, whereas, His son was created in His image. God could have an intimate direct relationship with Jesus.
God could not give His direct love to the fallen world and yet he believed in the world so much that he allowed His son to live in that world. God even allowed his son to Die for those that belonged to that world.
So if can agree that God Loved his son more then the world, lets think of the direction he gave to His precious son. He told him, "Jesus, You must go the way of the cross." Now, you may have been given some difficult direction by a leader or a boss. They may have told you to go to another country, or get another job, or pray for a week...but think of what God directed His son to do.
The Way of the Cross? That was opposite of all that Jesus was trying to accomplish with his life. Think of the man, Jesus. What were his dreams and hopes? He must have wished to be loved by his family, by a woman, by the people he loved. Surely it was his wish to be received by his people. He clearly and desperately wanted to share his relationship with God, the heavenly father, with all those that would listen.
At 33 years of age, Jesus had not yet found a single person who could understand even the "earthly things" so he was not able to share the deep teachings that lay in his heart. He must have longed to liberate his people from the ignorance that the bondage of Satan had placed on them spiritually and physically.
How much Jesus had hoped and prayed for the day he could hold his loving children and pour the deep love that lay within him, on to his children-the flesh of his flesh, the bone of his bone. How he must have longed to champion the birthright of the Israelites and bring them as a victorious people to the world, showing the whole world the reality of the living God. How much Jesus longed to be Gods champion.
Jesus had all these dreams and hopes. Yet, how could he accomplish this if he were to be crucified? Jesus vision of life was stimulated by God. Yet God was giving him a direction that went totally against the very things that he and God were hoping to accomplish. God was asking Jesus to be willing to be a miserable failure-a loser of all losers. A mocked and crucified Lord. The "God of Love" was asking His son to become the "Lord of Suffering."
Jesus had to make up his own mind. He had to make his own decision. Will I drink this bitter cup? Will I? How can I? Why should I? Why die when their is so much to live for? What was the man going to do? No one knew for sure. Jesus wept at the Garden of Gethsemene. He cried out "Father let this cup pass from me" out of his anguished. Yet Jesus heart was not moved away from God. So Jesus added, "But Thy Will Be Done." Jesus continued to show his willingness to do the impossible for his loving father.
God was the only one who knew Jesus and Jesus was the only one who knew God. The secret of this love and their relationship seemed to be doomed. Jesus was going to Die...die on a cross, the death of a criminal.
This struggle of Jesus, is the universal pattern set for anyone that wants to go the way of Jesus. So if you feel in some way that I am in a situation that is far from the ideal, we should understand that this is part of the restoration process, we are called in our life of faith to go the way of the cross.
Jesus had to die to his dreams, die to ambitions, die to his hopes- he had to volunteer to drink the bitter cup. Jesus was a man with a strong sense of duty. Duty to God was in part what drove him to give and give without looking back. It was out of a deep sense of duty that Jesus was willing to go to the cross.
Duty got Jesus to the cross and the cross seemed to be the greatest defeat of God and Gods hope for True Love, True Life and True Lineage. Even when Jesus struggled on the cross and shouted out "Father why have you forsaken me" he displayed his frustration, and disappointment but he never turned his back on God at this time of greatest trail.
Jesus, body smashed, debased and mocked by the world faced a point where he knew his life would soon be over and he could plead to God for his own life. Yet what did Jesus do.
Jesus did something that went beyond duty...Jesus did something that went beyond even death....Jesus pleaded out of love, he begged God, not for his own life but for the sake of the fallen world.
Father forgive them
"Father forgive them for they know not what they do" Father forgive them... give them another chance. Dont give up on them...please, please.
How deeply Jesus wanted to liberate this fallen world, he loved the world more then anyone did. He loved it and wanted to save it more then the archangel who worked so hard to control and dominate it..
Jesus lived up to his own words, "No greater love should a man have then to lie down his life for the sake of his brother." Jesus love went beyond his duty to go to the cross. Jesus love went beyond death, Jesus love was Gods love manifested on the earth. Jesus act of total selfless giving manifested itself fully in a concrete moment in human history. This moment changed all history for eternity.
It was through this love that God could bring Jesus back to life. This love was the victory over death. The misery of the crucified Jesus was turned into something beyond the grasp of his imagination for it opened up the incredible victory of love.
After Jesus murder, he did not go to heaven-he instead went to hell and continued to struggle and wrestle in a hell that was filled with his own self-doubts, accusations, resentments and disappointments. After three days he could be raised to "sit on the right hand of the Father."
Jesus love was beyond the imagination of the archangel, beyond his capacity, it was something completely new in the universe. It was the love of God manifest in Man-in a True Adam.
A new history had begun, Satan had thought he could gain everything through taking the one person that God truly loved most. The plan and strategy to control and destroy the "world" was broken-not simply by duty-but because of Love.
Duty moved Jesus to the cross but LOVE brought him to the throne of God-and it was only love that could melt the barriers of resentment, fear, doubt, self-hatred. Only love had the power over the sting of death.
This is a sharing of my limited understanding of the victory of Jesus life. Duty got Jesus through many difficulties but only Love could bring him home.
Our own lives
Let us look at our own lives. Many of us have spent years and years in a position of the offering, we have tried to make our lives a living sacrifice. As members of the Unification movement we have often been in positions where we gave up careers, delayed marriage and child bearing, we often worked without pay, recognition or acclaim, even not receiving a vote of thanks from our fellow members.
Many of us have tried to unite with people that were from a foreign culture or had really strange and difficult personalities. Yet you have tried time and time again-mostly out of duty to unite.
Duty got us through many difficult times but rarely will it gain one access into the deeper parts of the heart of God. Like Jesus, each of us had a vision of what our life should be about. Part of that vision included the hope that we would be part of a great victory for God and True Parents. Yet, when we look around, after all that sacrifice, what do we see in our society? Is our community and society really a reflection of God or is it laden with Satans influence? Have we been raising the true love families that we dreamt about? Are we each in positions to make a great impact on society? In one sense it looks as if we are failing. It looks as if Satan is laughing at us as individuals, families and a movement. It looks like we are hanging on our own cross.
If we fill yourself will resentment, self-doubt and anger on the cross we will not be able to get the long awaited victory that God has wanted us to gain. In order to separate from Satans lineage we must Love as Satan could not. We must go out and embrace the unlovable as Jesus did. We must say, "Father forgive me and forgive them-I will love them as you love them."
I will practice that love in my home, in my classes, in my dorm, in all parts of my life. Our hearts should ring out: "Oh God even if I die, I will die with thought of loving your children."
Let us think of 360 million couples as a way to practice this love. Let us love people one by one. Dont worry about 360 million. Concern ourselves with the way we are loving and caring for others. Only through this can we show we are truly God children, the children of True Parents and can we separate from satanic lineage.
Our united response of love will become the condition to give the world its historic resurrection and in that resurrection we will all find the True Life, True Love and the beginnings of True Lineage that our deepest hearts have eternally longed for. This year is the year to clearly help the world to connect to a new lineage and to do that we are being asked to follow the path of love.
True Parents have loved us as their own children. They willingly offered their own soon, Heung-Jin Nim. We know that Heung-Jin went to his death as a loving son, a sacrifice for others. He won through his life and offering a victory on a worldwide level. He showed us the spirit of true love that we all need to gain the victory of love.
When Heung-Jin Nim went to the spirit world he was given a new mission based on his "Victory of Love" to lead young people in both the spiritual realm and the physical realm. He is working with the younger generation trying to cleanse them by the power of true love.
It is now our turn to follow the examples of our brothers Jesus and Heung-Jin Nim. We can say the same for Daimo-Nim. This is a time to go beyond duty and gain the victory of love.
This is a natural place to conclude this sermon but my missions include directing the Religious Youth Service or RYS. You may have heard about the upcoming projects in Guatemala and Slovenia.
The RYS helps participants learn how to practice love through selfless service to others. Love is a relationship. To have a relationship their needs to be trust. The RYS helps young people of all faiths and cultures to come together to build trust. Through that trust unity can grow. Through that unity the seeds of True Love and lasting peace are planted.
Each of us tries to unite with what God is asking from us and we try to help others to carry out what the providential mandate of the specific time requires. True Parents have explained that God is asking that Roman Catholics and Protestants to unite in cooperation in the Americas. RYS is trying to respond to this need to bring Christianity in the Americas together by sponsoring projects in the Americas that promote religious and cultural cooperation and friendship.
The 4th Americas Friendship project is being held in Guatemala on May 14-23 is being co-sponsored by the WFWP. This service project will include working on a number of schools that serve poor rural communities in Guatemala. The RYS is designed to pull together young people of faith and provide a substantial model of a community living in cooperation for the sake of the larger community. It is a powerful testimony of the power of religious cooperation.
In a substantial way the RYS is the Principle in action. It is a great teacher and trainer. RYS is great for training youth spiritual for it provides a way to learn how to serve. Service can help build character. As Rev. Martin Luther King said, "We all can be great because we all can serve." As you know, the key to the kingdom of God is given to those who give loving service unconditionally.
Many eternal friendships have formed as a result of these RYS projects that the True Parents created. We have had projects in nearly thirty nations involving people from ninety nations. We hope you or your children can join the RYS in the near future and have an experience of their lifetime.
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