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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Seven - Our Immediate Goal - The Founding of the Kingdom
If man is divine, if the testimony of the ages is true, and if Christ came to show us divinity in expression and to found the new kingdom, then the breaking down today of the old forms, and the widespread destruction of the familiar structures of society and religion, may simply be part of the process of instituting the new processes of life and the planned work of a vital evolving spirit. A reaction to the appearance of the kingdom may account for the unrest of the masses, and the general sensitive response to the new ideals may be due to the impact of the force of the kingdom upon the minds of the more advanced people of the world. The mystic and the Christian may talk in terms of the kingdom of God; philanthropists and philosophers may talk in terms of the world community, of the new civilization, of the world federation of nations, of humanity as a body corporate, of community living and of internationalism and economic interdependence and world unity; but these are mere words and names which differing types of mind apply to the one great emerging fact of a new kingdom in nature arising out of the human kingdom, with its own principles of living, its laws of group welfare, and its brotherhood of man.

In the unfoldment of the human consciousness we are passing out of the necessary stage of individualism; we have temporarily lost sight of the deeper truths, the mystical values, and the one Life behind all forms. We have been too much occupied with material and selfish interests. But this has been a needed stage, even though it may well be that it has persisted too long. It is time for us to end the period of selfish individualism, permitting it no longer to be a controlling factor in our lives, time for us to begin to blend and unify the deeper elements of the world of reality with the outer life. The best minds of the age are now appreciating this, and on every hand the call is going out for a deepening of life, a recognition of the nature of and the need for a coherent understanding of the world processes, and their conscious [264] intelligent integration into a recognizable world order. The disintegration in the world at this time is right and good, provided we understand why it is taking place and by what it should be succeeded. Destruction which is carried on with a view to eventual construction is right and proper, but the plans for the coming building must be somewhere understood, and some idea must exist as to subsequent reconstruction.

Our need today is to see the hidden thread of purpose which will lead us out of the apparent impasse; to isolate, out of the many theories, that basic theory which not only has its roots in the past, but is capable of application in a new way, in new terms, by those who are permeated with the new vision. We need what Dr. Schweitzer calls "...the recognition that civilization is founded on some sort of theory of the universe, and can be restored only through a spiritual awakening and a will for ethical good in the mass of mankind." (The Decay and Restoration of Civilization, by Albert Schweitzer, p. 78-79.) This awakening is already here, and the will to good is present. The teaching of Christ is not obsolete and out of date. It needs only to be rescued from the interpretations of the theologies of the past, and taken at its simple face value, which is an expression of the divinity of man, of his participation in the kingdom which is in process of being brought into recognition, and of his immortality as a citizen of that kingdom. What we are in reality passing through is "a religious initiation into the mysteries of Being," (The End of Our Time, by Nicholas Berdyaev, p. 105.) and from that we shall emerge with a deepened sense of God immanent in ourselves and in all humanity. The need for this revaluation is being impressed upon us constantly. It might be of value to us, therefore, to admit this possibility and consider practically our individual relation to the work which Christ expressed and inaugurated, and to deal with the problem of our individual perfecting, in order that we may help to found [265] the kingdom and to develop those values which will warrant immortality.

Someone has remarked that our troubles at this time are due largely to the lack of intuitive perception on the part of those who can impress the masses and lead people forward. They seek to guide by mental processes and enforcements, and not by that intuitive presentation of reality which the child and the wise man can simultaneously recognize. It is vision that is needed, for "where there is no vision the people perish." (Prov., XXIX, 18.) We have not lacked idealism, nor have we been too greatly unintelligent. Most people, faced with issues and problems, act with sincerity, even if their line of action may seem mistaken. But our outstanding error has been a failure to make those personality adjustments and sacrifices which would render realization possible.

People ask for guidance; they demand right leadership; they hope to be led in the way that they should go; and yet all the time the guidance, leadership and direction have been given them. Christ blazed the trail and is still waiting for us to follow, not one by one, but - under inspired disciples - as a race. Like the children of Israel under Moses, we must go forth and find the "holy land." How then can those who have vision (and they are many) train themselves to aid in the right orientation of humanity? How can they become the leaders so sorely needed? By learning to be led themselves by Christ, and by following the guidance of the inner mystical Christ which will inevitably lead them direct to Christ the Initiator. As aspirants to the mysteries we must learn the way through obedience to the light which we may have, by love, and by becoming sensitive to inspiration from on high. There is no other way. We have no genuine excuse for failing, for others have gone ahead, and Christ made it all so clear and simple.

Obedience to the highest one knows, in small things as well as in great, is too simple a rule for many to follow, but it is the secret of the Way. We demand so much, and when a [266] simple rule is given us, and we are told merely to obey the voice of conscience and to follow the glimmer of light which we can see, we do not find it sufficiently interesting to call forth prompt obedience. But this rule was the first which Christ followed, and even when a child, He said that He came to occupy Himself with His Father's business. He obeyed the call. He did as God told Him; He followed step by step the inner voice - and it led Him from Bethlehem to Calvary. But it took Him eventually to the Mount of Ascension. He has shown us what results from obedience, and He "learned obedience by the things which He suffered." He paid the price, and revealed to us what God in man could be and do.

The achievement of human perfection is not the simple matter of building a good character and being nice and kind. More than that is involved. It is a question of understanding and of a new and regulated inner attitude, one which is oriented to God because it is oriented to the service of man, in whom God is expressing Himself. "If we do not love our brother whom we have seen, how can we love God whom we have not seen?" (I St. John, IV, 20.) This is the question which St. John, the beloved Apostle, asks and which we have not yet, as a race, attempted to answer. The vital need is to return to the simple fundamental instruction which Christ gave, and to learn to love our brother. Love is not a sentimental, emotional state of consciousness. It takes into account the point in evolution and the development of character of those to be loved; but in spite of all, it is a love which sees truly, and which, because it sees so truly can act wisely. It is a love which realizes that the world needs love, and that a spirit of love (which is a spirit of inclusiveness, of tolerance, of wise judgment and farsighted vision) can draw all men together into that outward unity which is based upon a recognized inner relationship.

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