Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Humble Little Candle

The people aforetime joined partners with God, though they professed belief in His unity; and although they were the most ignorant amongst men, they considered themselves the most accomplished. But, as a token of divine retribution upon those heedless ones, their erroneous beliefs and pursuits have, in this Day of Judgement, been made clear and evident to every man of discernment and understanding.

                (Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 124, from ISHRAQAT (Splendours))


Once we know everything we become very stupid. A person who knows it all has no need to acquire new knowledge. Being thus cut off from knowledge we soon become very stupid. There is, however, a bit of bliss, because we are completely unaware of our ignorance and sincerely believe we have all the answers.

It is easy to point fingers and recognize such traits in others but very difficult to see such faults in ourselves. “Those you think they know it all are a great irritant to those of us who do,” is often said in jest, but we must beware if we think it is true. It seems that God loves the humble seeker.

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

  (Matthew 18:4)

Once we become too sure of ourselves we soon fall. We must turn to God as a child turns to a parent. God, like a loving parent, allows us to help. There is nothing He can’t do, so He can do quite well without us, but He wants us to learn and be nurtured by our experiences, so He give us the duty to teach His Cause. He watches lovingly as we struggle to get it right. He wants to see his children cooperate and work together so he gives each of us a piece of the puzzle and together we can put it all together. If one refuses to help, our puzzle will have a missing piece.

We come together at feasts and holy days, at devotionals and study circles, at firesides and social gathering, and we rejoice in each other’s presence. How difficult it would be to keep true lovers apart, and since we are a community of lovers we cannot wait until our next chance to get together. We find ourselves sending emails, calling on the phone and dropping in for visits. The children and youth love to talk to the adults and seniors and the older members are amazed at the talents and dedication of our younger members.

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.(John 13:34,35)

Every Christian and all men will be forced to see us as disciples of the returned Christ when they recognize this type of love amongst us. Christ loved without limit and not even death could stop His love, so when we love beyond the point where we are willing to sacrifice our lives for each other, all men will recognize that we are the disciples of God’s Holy Messenger. This was prophesied by Christ 2,000 years ago. We have the loving example in Iran today were our friends are sacrificing their belongings, their freedom and even their lives for love of us. Let us be bold in our efforts, yet humble in our approach, as we tell the world of this great love that will conquer the whole planet. Love is light while evil is darkness. When we shine brightly darkness has no hold over us. As candles, we will sacrifice our very existence to give our light.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

neither cast ye your pearls before swine

In the Sermon on the mount Christ is reported to have said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”            (Matthew 7:6)

We also read in the Bible how Christ was accused of associating with sinners. “But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”      (Matthew 9:12,13)

It appears that Christ would give His Holy utterance and cast His pearls of knowledge to the sinners, but when these same words got to those who considered themselves righteous, they turned on His Holy Person and had Him nailed to a cross.

A few months ago I heard a radio broadcast about “Absolute Moral Authority.” The discussion on this subject involved instances where individuals or groups exercised such authority to the detriment of others. The residential schools in Brantford were cited as an example. In these schools, the government and churches joined forces and decided what was best for the aboriginal population. They enforced their plan with brutality and in the process damaged a society to the point where it will take many generations to heal. I was married to a product of those schools and witnessed firsthand the damage they had done. It is now recognized how this experiment went bad and steps are being taken to correct the damage, but those so damaged are unlikely to trust the judgement and the motives of a society that caused such damage. The leaders and organizers of this experiment meant well. There concern was the betterment of the people in their charge. Their only fault was in that they sincerely believed they had superior knowledge and absolutely knew what was best for another culture.

If there is any words I dread hearing said about myself it is, “He meant well.” Usually when you hear this phrase it means that somebody really messed up. However there is lessons to be learned. Just as the Scribes and the Pharisees during the time of Christ felt that they knew the absolute truth and therefore had no need of the teachings of Christ, there are many throughout history who took a similar approach and caused great loss to themselves and others. It is a continued reminder that we are fallible servants and God is the All-Knowing Master. When we start to believe we can act as gods and dictate the lives of others, we are in big trouble. We become the Swine that will turn and tear God’s Servant apart when we hear the Pearls of Wisdom coming from His lips.

Thus it is that we must take a humble approach when we disseminate the Teachings of God. We offer them as a gift to a king, and if it is not accepted, we move on. We know not who the swine are and it is not for us to judge, but if we try to force the Pearls of Knowledge on those swine, we risk being torn apart.

The scariest part of this is that those who fall into this category do not know and I must be on constant guard less I become one of the swine mentioned by Christ. If I find myself becoming so sure of myself that I turn in anger towards one who disagrees I may very well believe my knowledge is absolute. Instead I must take the approach that we must together look at the facts and determine the truth. If you believe differently than me, I must discover why you believe differently. Perhaps you have seen things from a perspective I haven’t. I need to honour your culture and your past that led you to such a belief, then together we can discover the truth.

The lady that first taught me the Faith of God taught me a pearl of wisdom. When someone would tell her that they did not believe in God, she would reply that she did not believe in the God that they did not believe in either. She would explain that, in order to not believe in God you must have some concept of God that you don’t believe in. Since this concept must be a distortion of the truth in order to produce a concept of God that one could not believe in, it must therefore be a false concept. She could now tell the person about the God she believed in without arguing if their God was real or not.

This is one example of how we can take the time to hear the other persons perspective before we judge them is being in error. If we start with differing definitions of key words we will never come to an agreement. First we must learn what a person means, then we can work on determining truth.

 “I know that you understand what I said. What you don’t understand is what I said is not what I meant.” This is a quote that I heard many years ago and have no recollection of where it came from, but it rings true very often. Let us first determine what we mean. Then the steps we can take to reconcile differences will flow more easily.

As I prepare to go for eye surgery, and for the first time in my life consent to have a part of my body cut by another person, one may wonder why I took time to write the preceding. I decided to join my wife at the church for prayer and she was leading a discussion on the Sermon on the Mount when I arrived. Thus, when I arrived at work and turned my thoughts to God, this was fresh on my mind.

Another interesting thing happened as I walked to the shop. As I walked I was distracted be something floating in the air. At first I thought it was a butterfly, but as it got close I recognized a leaf. Then, as it fluttered a few inches from my face, a sudden gust of wind blew it against my forehead. Being today, the first of April, it has been a long time since the season for falling leaves, but a few leaves always seem to hang on to the branches of trees throughout the winter. As I thought of such a stray leaf falling just at such a time to display itself mid air in front of me and then for this gentle gust of wind to cause it to touch my forehead, it made me think that perhaps I had just been touched by the hand of God. Perhaps, from the beginning of time, he had arranged things so that that leave would fall just as I was walking by. Many will think it was mere coincidence and that God is far to busy to pay attention to such details, but still, it makes one wonder.

As I have been blessed I will pray for the blessings of all. I hope today God will guide you in all you do. I pray that the hands and heart of my surgeon, and all other surgeons who are performing surgery today, will be guided by God’s will. Next time I see you I will actually see you instead of seeing a blur that resembles a human being.