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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Seven - Our Immediate Goal - The Founding of the Kingdom
Yet there is innate in humanity the sense of belonging elsewhere; there is a divine discontent which must surely have a basis in some natural inheritance which is the guarantee of our origin. This reaching out towards a larger and fuller life is just as much a human characteristic as the normal tendency of the individual to reach toward family life and social contacts. It is therefore just as capable of achievement as that tendency, and to this the testimony of the ages contributes. Personal salvation is, after all, of small importance unless it has place in a more general and universal salvaging. Promise is held out in the Bible that "he that doeth the will [277] of God abideth for ever," (I St. John, II, 17.) and in these words we have the clue. There has been a tendency to think that when God created man His will to expression had been perfectly satisfied. There is surely no real basis for this belief. If God is not capable of producing something of far greater perfection than humanity, and if the life which pours through the natural world is not working towards something greater, finer and more beautiful than anything yet produced, then God is not divine in the sense in which this term is usually accepted. We demand of God far more than this - greatness beyond anything that has yet been shown us. We believe that this is possible. We rest back upon divinity, and are assured that it will not fail us. But revelation of the ultimate perfection, whatever that may be (and we should not limit God by any of our own preconceived ideas), may require the unfolding in man of powers and a mechanism which will enable him to recognize it, to share in its wonder and its larger sphere of contacts. We ourselves may have to change in order to express the divine as Christ expressed it, before God can go on to the manifestation of the beauty of the hidden kingdom. God needs man's cooperation. He calls for men to do His will. We have looked upon this as a way to our own individual good, which perhaps has been a wrong attitude. We may arise and carry forward the inner Plan by equipping ourselves towards perfection, in order that God may "see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied." (Isaiah, LIII, 11.) We may constitute God's crucial experiment. The germ of divine life is in us, but we ourselves have something to do about it, and the time has come when humanity as a whole must apply itself to the fostering of the divine life within the racial form.

It is our immediate duty therefore, in the interests of the kingdom whose citizens are immortal, to unfold that which in ourselves is divine, and whose characteristics can be known by the sense of value, by the attribute of light, and by the nature of its love and loves. Full expression of the "Hidden [278] Man of the Heart" is the need today. The revelation of the Self within the self is the demand. It is this self, nurtured, fostered, then trained and developed, which is the immortal aspect in man, and for this self are we responsible. There is no evading this, nor is there evading of the fact that we are part of a whole, and that only as Christ enters into recognition by the entire race and is expressed by humanity as a whole, shall we achieve that for which we have been created - the fulfiling of the will of God, as Christ fulfiled it. We need to transcend the inferiority complex which rises up in questioning when such words occur as the above phrase: "As Christ fulfiled it." A book earlier quoted states that this idea of a personal Christ must be eclipsed and superseded by Christ as the life and hope in all of us. It is only the uniquely significant who understand the true inner meaning of immortality. Those in whom the sense of values is subordinated to the values of the soul, whose consciousness is that of eternity, are eternal in their living processes. This we must remember.

Are we interested in the vital whole? Is the welfare of the race of real moment to us? Are we willing to sacrifice everything to the good of the whole? These are questions which are of importance to the individual aspirant, and which he must answer if he is to understand clearly what he is attempting to do. This process of giving deference to the whole has been summed up for us by Dr. Schweitzer, who presents to us such a wonderful picture of the kingdom of God. He says that:

"Civilization, put quite simply, consists in our giving ourselves, as human beings, to the effort to attain the perfecting of the human race and the actualization of progress of every sort in the circumstances of humanity and of the objective world. This mental attitude, however, involves a double predisposition: firstly, we must be prepared to act affirmatively toward the world and life; secondly, we must become ethical.

"Only when we are able to attribute a real meaning to the world and to life shall we be able also to give ourselves to such action as [279] will produce results of real value. As long as we look on our existence in the world as meaningless, there is no point whatever in desiring to effect anything in the world. We become workers for that universal spiritual and material progress which we call civilization only in so far as we affirm that the world and life possess some sort of meaning, or, which is the same thing, only in so far as we think optimistically.

"Civilization originates when men become inspired by a strong and clear determination to attain progress, and consecrate themselves, as a result of this determination, to the service of life and of the world. It is only in ethics that we can find the driving force for such action, transcending as it does, the limits of our own existence.

"Nothing of real value in the world is ever accomplished without enthusiasm and self-sacrifice."

- The Decay and Restoration of Civilization, by Albert Schweitzer, p. VIII, preface.

No man who cannot attain to the consciousness of the true values is yet ready for the immortality which is the prerogative of the sons of God. The building of that inner structure which is the spiritual body is carried on by means of purification, perfecting, meditation and initiation, and above all else, by service. There is no other way. The true values to which the initiate gives his life are those of the spirit, of the kingdom of God, those which concern the whole and which lay no primary emphasis upon the individual. They are expressed through expansion, service and conscious incorporation in the whole. They are to be summed up in the one word Service. They are expressed through inclusiveness and non-separateness. It is here that the Church, as usually understood, meets its major challenge. Is it spiritual enough to let go of theology and become truly human? Is it interested enough to widen its horizon and recognize as truly Christian all who demonstrate the Christ spirit, whether they be Hindu, Mohammedan, or Buddhist, whether they are labeled by any name other than that of orthodox Christian?

Another basic thought emerges out of all that we have considered. It is whether or not we are today transiting out of the age of authority into the age of experience, and whether [280] this transition does not indicate that the race is rapidly preparing for initiation. We are revolting from doctrines, having very little use for them, and the reason, Dr. Dewey tells us, is that "...adherence to any body of doctrines and dogmas based upon a specific authority signifies distrust in the power of experience to provide, in its own ongoing movement, the needed principles of belief and action. Faith in its newer sense signifies that experience itself is the sole ultimate authority." (Quoted in Reality and Illusion, by Richard Rothschild, p. 320.) It is obvious that this connotes not uniformity but a recognition of our essential unity.

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