The Words of the Baughman Family
Rev. James Baughman
This is my first Sunday as regional coordinator of the New York City region. Some days ago, when I was thinking about what to speak on, I got u; at 5:00 a.m., and a strong feeling came over me. I saw very clearly the Rock of Tears, and Father weeping for the sake of God. It dawned on me that the most appropriate thing to do on this, my first Sunday, was to talk about God in the spirit of how our True Parents have spoken about God and lived their life accordingly. In this sense, the Rock of Tears is a symbol of our church. It is the symbol of Father and Mother deeply desiring, during the many years of their life, to take care of God.
I cannot claim to personally know very much about God directly. However, I have learned several things from True Father about God. First of all, Father has taught us that God is a parent and that we are God's children. Secondly, God has feelings, desires, and personality. Ever since the fall, God has continually felt loneliness, suffering, and agony. A third point is that God I cannot bring in the Kingdom of Heaven by Himself. Rather, it is our responsibility to work with God. Only together as a family -- God, parents, and children -- can we bring the Kingdom of Heaven on this earth.
Today I would like to direct two major questions to you. First, why should we take care of God? In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, God says through Moses:
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house, and on your gates."
God is exhorting the Israelites to love and care for Him, and not only that, but to teach all the generations after them to do this. He wanted His people to live with this truth burning within their hearts and to make it their central concern.
In the New Testament, God's personal, living relationship with His people is expressed even more deeply. Revelations 21:2-4: says:
"And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them; He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."'
This is a God wanting to be intimate with us, to dwell with us, and to wipe away our tears, hoping that we will be His people as much as He is our God.
In the Completed Testament we read, in Father's speech entitled "Children of our Father" from the book New Hope, Twelve Talks:
You must make a hopeful prayer to God: "Oh Father, I don't want to be a foolish child, to be unwise. I want to know Your heart. I am here, ready to sacrifice myself, so why don't You come and abide with me?" For that prayer, God will be proud of you. And you can even pray this: "Father, I will be responsible to restore this world, and I can do it, believe me! You don't have to come and help me. I don't want You to come to this world of suffering to help me. You stay there and watch me." With that kind of prayer, you can console God's heart.
Then how would God respond? He would tell you, "I am coming. I must come and help you. Even if you want to stop me from coming, I have to be with you! I want to be with you, right in the midst of darkness." Then when you are pursuing your mission, ready to fight your way through all difficulties, you will suddenly find that God is already there before you, having prepared everything for you and paved the way ahead of you. God is the God of love, of parental heart.
If you were God, wouldn't you do the same for your children? When you love God like that, you will become the greatest of His sons, since you will have moved your parent's heart. You will have restored God's dignity, and He will be proud of you. I have thought and thought and finally found that this is the only way for the sons of filial piety to please God. You will be grateful that God has come to earth because of you. You will be able to make God happy, warm, and proud. And you will be proud of each other and satisfied with yourselves.
Our Father is saying that God is not just demanding that we love and obey Him as a servant, but that He wants us to be His filial children -- to serve, to assist, to take care of Him -- to take care of God!
Last Sunday, Dr. Durst gave us some profound insights into the story of the prodigal son. One of these was that the father in the story exhibited unconditional love for both of his sons. He went out to meet the wayward younger son and embraced him on the road leading home. And when the elder son stood outside the banquet hall, grumbling about the party for his returned brother, the father went out of the hall to embrace and comfort him.
Neither of the sons was able to fulfill and exhibit the same heart as their father. Neither was able to forgive and to console his brother. Our Heavenly Father, of course, is like the father in this story. He never ceases to constantly give unconditionally to His people. Haven't you wondered at times what it is that makes God able to ceaselessly forgive and keep giving us another chance? It is because His heart is the heart of a parent.
And as we marvel at this heart of God, we oftentimes begin to feel that by our very nature as fallen children, we will never be able to exhibit this same kind of love. We childishly take for granted God's unconditional forgiveness. There is a typical saying among some people: "Don't worry: If you sin, God will forgive you." I think we really abuse God's forgiveness and unconditional love. I was raised a Catholic, and we went to confession every Saturday before Sunday communion. But there was an unspoken feeling that somehow we could go out and do whatever we wanted because we could always go to confession and say our penance and have it all forgiven. It was a cop-out! Actually, we were abusing God's unconditional love, forgiveness, and compassion.
We've all seen depictions of people confessing and begging God's forgiveness on their deathbed, thinking that they'll be able to go to heaven no matter how sinful their life was. I'm sure many of us hope and pray that we'll be conscious at our moment of death so that we'll have that last chance to make things right. In a way, this kind of thinking gives us a license to do whatever we feel like doing.
Have we thought about how God feels concerning the way we treat His love, compassion, and forgiveness? We must take responsibility to develop the same heart and attitude as God while we are living. We must become mature. In a sense, we will always be children to our Heavenly Father, but at some time we must grow up and assume responsibility.
So why must we take care of our God? Because it is our destiny. It is our destiny to become the reflection of God, our parent. As it says in Genesis, we were made in the image of God. Jesus said we must be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. He didn't say, "You have to try, but I know you'll never make it." He said, "You must become the image of God. You must become like God, who has a parental heart." We are not meant to be children forever. We are meant to become true parents. The beginning point in developing a parental heart is to have the means and ability to reciprocate the love and compassion that God gives to us. We must learn to be like God, to be the image of God, to be perfect as God, to become parents, and then to pass it on. This is the essence of all the script' res.
Jesus said that there are only two great commandments: Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. In other words, before we can love our neighbor, we must be able to love God and take care of God with our whole being. It's the foundation for us to do everything else.
Jesus' whole life was spent taking care of his God. Finally he went to Gethsemane and prayed, shedding tears and blood.
Why? Not because he was weak, but because he was so desperate to take care of his God. Dying on the cross was the highest act he could do at that point -- he showed the people that he was willing to take care of God and the world at any cost. Since that time, the cross has become the symbol of that depth of love and concern.
In the Completed Testament, the symbol of that depth of love is the Rock of Tears. It is Father's Gethsemane. Father prayed at that Rock for years and years. Why? To take care of his God. As Father said:
I never prayed from weakness. I never complained. I was never angry at my situation. I never even asked His help, but was always busy comforting Him and telling Him not to worry about me. The Father knows me so well. He already knew my suffering. How could I tell Him about my suffering and cause His heart to grieve still more? I could only tell Him that I would never be defeated by my suffering.
These words express Father's fundamental desire to take care of his God. They are more than an expression of a child's attitude towards his parent. Let me explain.
Most of us think that the four position foundation -- God, man, woman, and child -- is a hierarchical, static relationship. But it's not; it's dynamic. And that's the key to understanding what we call the triple objective purpose. Each person becomes, at some point in this dynamic relationship, the subject to the other three as objects. In other words, the man can initiate the relationship of love to the other three, including God! And the woman and the child can do the same. This means that we can have more than just a child or filial piety relationship to God. Sometimes we can be in a relationship to God as spouse. God becomes our lover. Think of it: It's very profound to be in a position of spouse to God. Jesus, and also Father, speaks about God as a lover. We can tenderly take care of God as a spouse, with utmost fidelity.
We can even be in a parent relationship to God. God has no mouth to cry out in this miserable world. He has no body to move about. In this sense God is like a child. He needs to be protected and defended in this world. We need to take care of our God as a parent would intimately take care of his child.
It is our destiny to have these relationships with God -- as a child to a parent, as a spouse to his beloved, and as a parent to a child. God needs us, just as we need Him. In the Old Testament, He said many times, "I want my people. I will not let my people be distracted by anything else. I am a jealous God!" We also must become a jealous people. We must become a people united and determined not to have anything else that might distract us from our God. We must determine ourselves to be the best in taking care of Him.
The second major question to ask ourselves is: How do we go about taking care of our God? There is much to say on this point. Father talks about taking care of God by living a life of indemnity and sacrificing ourselves for the sake of the world. But before we can even hope to take care of others by living a life of indemnity, we must first develop a relationship of love with God.
Thus the first and the most crucial step is not action, but rather, worship. We need a foundation of worship, prayer, and study, before we can do things like ICC work or home church. Worship means more than just our individual prayer and study. Worship is a time especially set aside when we gather as a people to sing, pray, and study together. This is the essence of worship. Why? Because the group voice, the voice of the people together, is louder and more profound and powerful than the individual voice.
Think of it this way. The core of the Unification movement as a whole is the church. The core of the church is God. The core of God is heart. And the core of heart is true love. True love is really the essence of the Three Blessings that delineate our purpose in life. We must develop a heart of true love through our worship. Worshiping as a family, as a people of God, taps into and stimulates this core of the heart.
Worship goes to the heart of hearts. Where is the heart? Where is the mind? We often talk about the spirit mind. The spirit mind is where God infuses the life element of truth and love so that we can gain spiritual growth. It is this heart, this spirit mind, that we must stimulate. We must first activate it so that we can receive God's love. Just as the heart pumps life fluid through the entire body, worship pumps the lifeblood of God's love into us, into the entire movement, into every activity we do. It is the core, the essence, that we must stimulate in order to pump the lifeblood of God's truth and love. It is through worship that we do this.
What are the elements of worship? The first element is repentance. Before we can even begin to stimulate true love in ourselves, we must first repent and cleanse ourselves. We need to be healed before we can actively and effectively pump that lifeblood and develop the true heart of a parent.
A second aspect is praise. God doesn't get too many compliments these days. On my way to service I walked down 42nd Street. In the hustle and bustle and the noise, glitter, and garbage, there was one lone voice at the corner of Times Square praising God. It was sad in a way, because it was drowned out by the noise and distraction, and people just walked by. May God bless that man, for he's trying to take care of his God.
A third important element of worship is thanksgiving. How often does God receive appreciation for all that we've received? How often do we take for granted the blessings and the simple things of life? Remember how Jesus healed the 10 lepers and how, in their euphoria of having been healed, they ran off to show everyone, forgetting what had happened? Upon reflection, one realized his blessing and went back to Jesus and said "Thank you." Jesus was moved by his gratitude, but he was also saddened that the other nine didn't come back. Thanksgiving is important.
In worship we must also comfort God. This is the unique and new dimension that the Unification Church brings into worship. Not too many churches talk about this element of comforting God's heart, showing compassion and embracing our God.
A fifth element of worship is to communicate to God. Few of us really communicate when we attend service. We go through the ritual and the different I steps of the worship service; we pray, we sing our songs, we read our scriptures, and then we're finished. But do we really communicate with God? Do we let God speak to us? Let's communicate.
The sixth element, which is the combination of the other five, is to love God. We come here to love God. In all these things that combine to make up worship, we take care of our God. In that sense, Sunday service is not a place for talking about politics. It's not a place for talking about business or to give re- ports. And it's not merely a social occasion, which is the case in many other churches. It's a time for us to take care of our God. That's the essence of Sunday service.
We need to lift up our voice; to God as one united family. We must repent, praise, appreciate, comfort, communicate with, and love our God. This is our first duty and our first love. It's critical. Our work will have no meaning unless we first come together to worship. When we do this, God will be with us in everything else we do.
In II Chronicles 7:14, God indicates this very clearly:
"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place."
Sometimes we like to think that while other Christian churches may be declining, we in the Unification Church are different. But are we really any different? Will this beautiful place at 43rd Street one day become a museum and a relic like so many other monasteries, churches, and cathedrals? Or will it become a sanctuary full of the vitality of the living God! What it becomes is up to us.
I realize that it takes a lot of effort to come to Sunday service, but think of it this way: Think of how much effort God has made throughout the centuries to take care of us and how little effort we make in coming to worship God and taking care of Him.
We have to worship together. Being the pastor of this church does not mean that it is my sole responsibility to give words of inspiration and truth. Actually in this church we must all witness; and we must all minister to our brothers and sisters. It is everyone's responsibility to make our gathering into a true worship service. Bring a friend, bring a brother or sister. Let's fill our services, not merely with our bodies, but with a jealous people of God who desire to take care of our God and to worship Him. This is our joy and our beginning point. We can go from here to do the rest.
It is time for us to become a different people. It is time for us to gather ourselves together and to pledge to live and die for our God. It is time for us to become a jealous people.
The song "Light of Grace" goes: "All things decay, passing away, only the light shall remain. All things decay, still there is one, true and faithful, God is love." We can be confident that God will always be here. But will we be here? The chorus says, "I'll give my life and my love unto the one God of love." Let us have that kind of commitment.
Let us lift up our voices and cry out to our God for mercy to heal our hearts and heal this land. Let us pray to comfort, give compassion to, and embrace our God's heart. It is our time now to take seriously the pleading words of our Tree Father when he once said in desperation, "My only concern is that when I die, who will take care of my God for me?"
Let us pray.