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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Seven - Our Immediate Goal - The Founding of the Kingdom
We are told that when we enter the world of ideals, "the differences between religions become negligible and the agreements striking. There is only one ideal for man, to make himself profoundly human. 'Be ye perfect.' The whole man, the complete man, is the ideal man, the divine man." On the path of purification we discover how weak and faulty is the lower personal man; on the path of discipleship we work at the unfoldment of those qualities which are characteristic of the man who is ready to tread the Way and be born in Bethlehem. Then we shall know the truth about ourselves and God, shall know through attainment whether what we are told is fact or not. We are told that " one can rightly understand the historic truth of such documents as the Gospels unless he has first experienced within himself the mystical meaning which they contain... Angelus Silesius of the seventeenth century has already expressed the whole of the critical attitude toward this kind of investigation:

" 'Though Christ were yearly born in Bethlehem and never
Had birth in you yourself, then were you lost for ever; [271]
And if within yourself it is not reared again
The Gross at Golgotha can save you not from pain.' "
- Quoted in The Way of Initiation, by Rudolf Steiner, p. 46.

Self knowledge leads one to God knowledge. It is the first step. Purification of the self leads one up to the portal of initiation, and then one can tread the Way that Christ trod from Bethlehem to Calvary.

We are human beings, but we are also divine. We are citizens of the kingdom, although we have not yet claimed and entered into our divine heritage. Inspiration is pouring in all the time; love is latent in every human heart. Only obedience is required at the first step, and when that is rendered, service, which is the expression of love, and inspiration, which is the influence of the kingdom, become a definite part of our life expression. This is what Christ came to reveal; it is the Word which He sounded forth. He has demonstrated to us our human and divine possibilities, and by accepting the fact of our dual but divine nature we can begin to aid in the founding and expressing of the kingdom.

The realization must come to us that "the highest, purest and absolutely adequate expression of the mystery of man is Christ the God-man. He alone really and finally places human nature in the right light. His appearance in history entitles man to regard himself as more than a mere creature. If there is really a God-man there is also a Man-god, that is 'man' who has received the godhead into himself... the Man-god is collective and universal, that is to say, mankind as a whole or a world-church. For it is only in communion with all his fellow men that man can receive God." (Wrestlers with Christ, by Karl Pfleger, p. 235.)

The individual attitude to the example of Christ is therefore obedience to the command that we achieve perfection. But the motive must be the one that incited Christ to all His divine activity - the founding of the new kingdom and the attainment of that state of consciousness on a universal and human scale which will make out of the human being [272] a citizen of the kingdom, consciously functioning therein, voluntarily subject to its laws, and striving steadfastly for its extension on earth. He is the messenger of the kingdom; and the raising of the consciousness of his fellow men, so that they can transcend themselves, becomes his self-appointed task. The sharing with them of the benefits of the kingdom, and the strengthening of them as they tread the difficult path to the gate which admits into that kingdom, become the only dear and immediate duty. The soul who has made contact with the lower expression, the personal self, sweeps that self on to the path of Service. The man cannot then rest until he has led others into the Way and toward the freedom of the sons of God which distinguishes the new and coming kingdom.

The new religion is on the way, and it is one for which all previous religions have prepared us. It differs only in that it will no longer be distinguished by dogmas and doctrines, but will be essentially an attitude of mind, an orientation to life, to man and to God. It will also be a living service. Selfishness and self-centered interests will finally be ruled out, for the kingdom of God is the life of the corporate whole, sensed and desired by all its citizens, and worked for and expressed by all who tread the Way. Initiation is nothing more than the process of developing within us the powers and faculties of this new and higher kingdom, which powers release one into a wider world, and tend to make one sensible of the organic whole in place of the part. Individualism and separatedness will disappear as that kingdom comes into being. The collective consciousness is its major expression and quality. It is the next definite and clearly indicated step upon the evolutionary Path, and there is no escape from this issue. We cannot prevent ourselves from finally becoming conscious of the larger whole, or actively participating in its unified life. However, it is possible to hasten the coming of the kingdom, and the need of the world at this time, and the general turning of men towards the world of ideas, would seem to indicate that the time has come for the making of [273] that extra effort which will precipitate the appearance of the kingdom and bring forth into manifestation that which is awaiting immediate revelation. This is the challenge which today confronts the Christian Church. The need is for vision, wisdom and that wide tolerance which will see divinity on every hand and recognize the Christ in every human being.

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