The Words of the Baughman Family
Deuteronomy, Chapter 6, verses 1-9; John, Chapter 15, verses 12-17;
The Way of Tradition, vol. 2, pp. 286-287, paragraphs 16-17.
This morning's sermon is entitled "Tradition in Canaan," and is an encapsulation of all the sermons that I gave last year. With each of those addresses I tried to present elements of the tradition that has continued from the very beginning of time. I presented readings from the Old Testament, New Testament and Completed Testament that showed that the concepts and realities of our life today have their roots in Israelite and Christian history. True tradition from God never dies. Now that True Parents have said that we are in the period of Canaan, out of the time of wandering, we must understand what is our tradition and the tradition in Canaan.
In Israelite history, "Canaan" meant "a kingdom, a nation of peace and prosperity." God commanded them to keep and spread the tradition, and as long as they lived it, they would prosper. He reminded them that their blessings came from Him -- because they were His people and He was the parent and would take care of them. He also warned them to follow His statutes; if they don't He can't protect them because another tradition will invade and Satan will cause them misery.
This tradition continued for the Christians, who after 400 years, could set up Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire. They did not really have a nation as the Israelites had. Yet Jesus taught them on exactly the same tradition that God had told the Israelites. Father is saying the same thing now. The readings we heard today basically explain this fundamental tradition of God, which is to be the tradition in Canaan, the tradition of the kingdom. It is vital that we be reminded about what is God's tradition. Otherwise, we often forget as the Israelites and the Christians did.
The Israelites were honest. If they didn't follow God's statutes, they confessed it and recorded what happened. When they repented and determined to live God's statutes God lifted them up, defeated their enemies, and gave them back their inheritance or birthright. The history of Christianity is not so plainly recorded. Even we as Unificationists don't always like to accept our own history. But we need to look at ourselves and the tradition of Canaan.
Here, I'd like to say a few things about the general nature of tradition. Many of us think that customs are tradition, but actually, customs are manifestations of some underlying, fundamental tradition. When the tradition that lies behind a custom is forgotten, the custom becomes an empty ritual and may be forsaken in the name of being more progressive. But, in forsaking the custom, we may also forsake the tradition. Even the rituals or customs of our religious life, like Sunday service, become meaningless if we forget the tradition that was their foundation and life. We have to understand and hold on to the essence of traditions, not the externals of customs, and find the broadest expression of a tradition so that we can be most embracing of other cultures. If the tradition is really fundamental, it will be universal.
Fundamental tradition can be the core of many lifestyles and customs, but does not itself change. This is especially true of tradition in Canaan because it comes from the unchanging source -- God. In Deuteronomy, God tells us this commandment comes from His deepest heart and being: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength." In Leviticus, it says, "Love your neighbor as yourself." In Matthew, Chapter 22, Jesus puts them together to describe the tradition that comes from the very core of the true love of God. True love never changes; it's always consistent, and the tradition of true love must be the same. Thus God spoke very strongly in the Old Testament to the Israelites about teaching this tradition to their descendants.
God said that they should teach this tradition when they woke up in the morning and when they ate; when they went to bed at night; to dream about it; sleep on it; put it in their heart; let it permeate every cell of their body so that they would become a living tradition. And if they always honored it, all the generations after them would honor it and it would never change. Once they failed to follow the statutes, however, they would no longer be God's chosen people. This is what God was telling them and this is what God is telling us now.
Let's now take a look at what our tradition is not. There is another tradition in this world that seems to be unchanging and very consistent; Lucifer's tradition.
Lucifer's tradition reflects the source. In John 8:44, Jesus says to the Pharisees who oppose him: "you are of your father the devil and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him.... he is a liar and the father of lies." That is Lucifer's tradition: deception, lies, murder, self-centeredness. Basically Lucifer's tradition is not only selfish in motivation, but poisonous to human life.
In 1 John 3: 7-11 the apostle writes: "He who does right is righteous, as God is righteous. He who commits sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God commits sin; for God's nature abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God. By this it may be known who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not do right is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another." The devil's tradition of sin is consistent from the very beginning. And God's parenthood, the tradition of true love, is also consistent and unchanging.
In Matt. 15:11 and 17-20, Jesus says to the people, not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth... But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. For out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man."
Look at all the kinds of things we do to hurt each other and hurt ourselves. These things are very self-centered and demeaning to our own integrity, and to the integrity and dignity of others. We should be incensed because of the poisonous tradition that permeates our environment and even our own hearts. The tradition in Canaan is not this tradition.
God's tradition is totally selfless, totally nurturing and wholesome for human life. In Matthew 22: 36-40 several people, in an attempt to scornfully test Jesus, ask him: "Teacher, what is the greatest commandment of the law?" Jesus' answer went beyond all the legalities to explain God's fundamental tradition: "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment; and the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Upon these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Jesus explains this tradition a little more: "My commandment to you is to love one another, even to lay down your life." Earlier in Matthew 5: 43, he says: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
Think about it. Someone who spits in your face and curses you, and is even after your life; when you see that person you may want to kill him. You want to destroy him; you have nothing good to say about him. All of this anger and hatred wells up in you.
This seems like a natural and even acceptable reaction -- but it must come to an end. To transcend feelings of hate toward someone you clearly know is trying to destroy you is very difficult, but incredibly victorious and liberating if you can do it. This is the tradition that God has set.
This tradition is not self-centered, but seeks the public purpose. In Matthew 6, Jesus says to the people to not worry about obtaining their personal needs and desires -- "seek ye first the kingdom of heaven." This doesn't mean to shirk our responsibilities, but to change our priorities. God promised the Israelites that if they kept His statutes and sought after the public good, they would prosper. That same covenant is now passed on to us: if we maintain the selfless, public-minded tradition, even loving our enemies at the price of our life, we will gain prosperity. This is the tradition of Canaan.
Our tradition also is to take care of our God, our Parent, who has endured innumerable sufferings beyond our imagination. As children of filial piety, we must take care of God throughout eternity and pass that tradition on to every generation, never to be lost or forgotten.
Next, we must feel ownership for the birthright and tradition God intended for us. The tradition of Lucifer no longer belongs anywhere on this earth: not within our hearts, not within our families or homes, and not within our church.
How do we inspire ourselves to feel responsible for taking care of our brothers and sisters, America, and even the world -- to the point where we just can't get it out of our minds? I think the key is in feeling one is the good shepherd, and not someone who only takes care of things if he is paid enough. The good shepherd lays down his life for his own and will gather even those outside of the flock into his flock because of his feeling of true ownership on behalf of God. You feel: This is my building, my country, my people and even my God -- and I don't want to see anyone destroying or hurting them. Hyo fin Nim spoke clearly about this: "Would you leave something precious you own out in the rain? Would you leave it unattended to be stolen or harmed in any way? No. You'd embrace it and keep it close to you and even sleep with it because it was yours. If you feel ownership, you'll feel responsibility automatically." We must feel this tradition is not just True Parents', not Jesus', not even God's -- it's mine now! And I take loving responsibility for it.
As God has never changed, given up or lost sight of the tradition, or altered it to compensate for us, we must also persevere and pass our unchanging tradition on from generation to generation.
We need wisdom to discern clearly what is God's tradition and what is not, and to act accordingly. We need gratitude. God says: "Beware. Never take for granted what I have given you. Be grateful and humble." As we remember our blessings, we gain power to keep our tradition and thus to always prosper.
We have to be disciplined. To live the tradition, to infuse it into our being, happens not overnight but only with consistent, minute by minute discipline of our heart and lifestyle to replace Satan's tradition with God's tradition. The question is not whether we feel tempted by things around us, but whether we give in to them or control ourselves and follow God's tradition constantly.
Shedding tears for God and humanity is also our tradition, and not just tears of sorrow but also of gratitude and rejoicing. I hope we will always weep with love for Heavenly Father in deepest gratitude for all His blessings and for each other.
The way of attendance is also our tradition. Hyo Jin Nim explained: "Attendance means there's no schedule -- you don't schedule your family or those you deeply love into your day or your time." The heart of attendance is to be there when you are needed, with what you can offer. I experienced this in Korea when I could only give my in-laws last minute notice that I was coming. Even though one was a medical doctor, she willingly left all her patients waiting for her to take care of me for two hours.
Our love is not for a few people but for everyone. Heavenly Father has never ruled anyone out. We must truly be with each other and bear one another's burdens, giving wholesome elements so that we can all prosper and grow.
Finally, our tradition is the congregation, for the people of God to worship together and to offer the first fruits of everything they have to further the work of God. The offering or tithe is not just money, but also your time, talent, and energy. First we take care of God; then, ourselves and each other.
The tradition of the Israelites and of the Christians was to have elders and deacons be the representatives of the people to the ministry, and to care for the congregation. It is also our tradition. Of course, the community should never think that the elders are the only ones who should do the embracing. Every one of you are elders, deacons and priests in that sense.
Simply speaking, the essence of our tradition in Canaan is true love. Unity with God must be what we seek, for only as we become united with God, can we become united with that tradition of love.
This is not easy. Each must honestly evaluate what is in his mind and heart. You know if you are praying daily, living a principled life, offering with a willing attitude. Daily we must cut off from the old tradition and never feel complacent about it. Be very wise and sharp to know when you're being tempted. Get possessed with God and His tradition so that it becomes second nature and automatic. That's exciting! Perfection means to be the embodiment of that tradition on this earth -- a physical manifestation of Heavenly Father. As we determine to live God's tradition, God's power will work through every one of us!
In closing I would like to read a passage where Rev. Moon talks about our tradition: "you and I must set the right tradition by giving our blood, sweat and tears to lay the foundation for posterity; to become the true society, true nation, true world, and true universe. There is no other way for us to spend our time. With this tradition, unification is not an empty word, but a realistic goal. What do you think would happen if this tradition were passed down throughout the future, generation to generation? Without doubt, prosperity would be ensured because this is precisely what is needed. I want to see love in you that is not self-centered; love that branches out to embrace your family, society, nation, world and God. In that tradition, any leader will get rid of himself and try to become totally public-minded, directing the focus of the peoples' love toward God and humanity.
"As long as we have the right spirit of love it doesn't make any difference whether the World Mission Center, or News World building, or Belvedere were to simply disappear and nothing remain. With the right tradition, we have everything. This is the only thing that we want to keep and hand down generation to generation. When our life on this earth is completed, the record of how we lived will become the measure for how much heaven we deserve and this will be the standard: (1) the love you unselfishly bestowed upon your fellow man; (2) the service you willingly rendered for the benefit of others; (3) the sacrifice you courageously offered for humanity and for God. The sum total of these deeds will become your treasure for eternity."