My First "Sermon"
My name is Justin, and I have been asked by Reverend Beverly to share with you today a personal journey to Christ, and through Christ, God. I say personal deliberately, for of course my journey and my conclusions because of this journey are my own. I would never expect these to be shared by all of you, nor would ask any of you who hear (read) them to walk the path I have walked to reach these conclusions.
The beginning of this path that I've walked started when I was baptized and confirmed in my home church, the Church of the Holy Apostles. I was fifteen then, and angry, very angry over what had happened thus far in my life. I had thought that God would show me the way to ease that anger, thought that if I proclaimed the Holy Spirit as my guide, Christ as my savior, and God as my True Father, that the Father would immediately give my life the grace I so desired. I thought that no work on my part greater than my baptism and confirmation would have to take place for this grace to be given by God.
Of course within the year this turned out to be false, and in an even greater anger and pride I deliberately turned my back to that which I had proclaimed the greatest influence on me. I turned my back on God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, all three, on all of Him. In my pride, I thought that I could find a better way than that provided by my savior, thought that other answers provided by men such as the Buddha and Muhammad would give me a greater peace than the one promised and provided by God.
And so I studied these answers from other men, studied the Buddha with as much fervor as any person can afford. By that I mean I tried not only to understand what the Buddha was saying to those who would need to hear what he spoke, I tried to live his philosophies. And in many regards, I found rewards that most people who follow the Buddha enjoy. I found the knowledge that we are all imperfect, and through that understanding we reach a human perfection. I found ultimately an understanding of Self, and I say Self with a capital "S”, meaning that Self is our ultimate impressions and understandings of who we are, what we are, how these two things define our actions. I say Self meaning ultimately how I relate to me, how my heart, mind and soul interact with each other.
When I realized that Self was not enough, I turned to Muhammad, studied his words with as much fervor as I had the Buddha's. I found in Muhammad a human perfection I had seen only in the Buddha, a perfection that allowed the Prophet to hear the word of God through the angel Gabriel and relate to humanity God's relationship with us. Because of what Muhammad related to me, I have come to a much clearer understanding of Humanity, and I say Humanity with a capital H, to identify a cohesive and integrated creation of God. Humanity is one race, one faith, that may call God different names, and may disagree on how God should be worshipped with what religion, but this does not make us separate from each other.
What I mean to say is that in God's eyes, we are all brothers and sisters. Still, I could not find what I was seeking in this understanding of Humanity. What I was seeking was a relationship with my Creator, not with myself, not with any of you, or any other brother and sister in this family of Humanity. I was seeking God, a relationship with God, and had been unable to reach that relationship from the moment of hearing about God from others to the moment of hitting the wall provided by first Buddhism, then Islam.
It came down to this; I didn't like God. I didn't like what I knew of God. I didn't like what others were telling me about God, or showing me what God should be like. And I struggled with this, I mean, it made me so angry at one point that I called God down for this, actually had the pride and the ignorance to not only question my God, but to tell him he was wrong.
It was Cosmic Slap in the face. At first, His response was confusing, His response caused a lot of problems in my life, or what I perceived then as problems, His response was a response only I believed in for no one else would buy into it. But later, when I had been able to give His response due consideration, the conclusion that He wanted me to reach made itself present in my thinking, and in my life.
That conclusion was this; how can I possibly come to know God and who God truly is through the words or example of Humanity, no matter how perfect it presents itself?
How can I define God through Man, or Woman, or Child, no matter how clean their Self?
How can I understand True Perfection through even a Perfect Imperfection such as the Buddha or Muhammad?
I cannot reach God through these things, cannot define God as He wishes Himself to be defined, and therefore without that definition, cannot find a relationship with Him.
There is only one being capable of providing that example, one True Perfection that walked this earth in the form of a lesser perfection. The One called Christ.
It's amazing, truly amazing, what Christ has given me. What Christ has given me isn't a miracle in the sense of raising the dead, or turning water into wine. I do not have these powers, I never could have these powers, I would never want these powers. What Christ has given me, what He has given all of us should we choose to listen, is an understanding of Perfection. Not the best understanding available to all creation. That will come when we walk beside God in the Kingdom of Heaven. But it is a true understanding nonetheless, the truest we as Humanity can possibly know.
I will use an example, perhaps the best example available. The example I will use is love. Perfect Love is not the Love of Self, which provides only as much as I can give to me. It is not the love of Humanity, which provides only what we can give to each other. Perfect Love is the Love of God, and all that God can give to Us
What is all that God can give to us? This question is the next logical question to ask. What can define "how much” God can possibly give? The word infinity comes to mind. When I say that word, the one thing that I know from physical existence that can possibly even come close to helping me understand that word is the actual Universe itself, and all that lives in this Universe.
Do you know that there are 70,000 million, million, million stars in this Universe? That our sun is actually one of the smallest of these stars? How vast must this Universe be to contain and operate around these stars without fail? How vast must the Being who Created all of those stars be in order to control those stars? How vast must He be, and how infinite must His love and Forgiveness be for us? I compare our understanding of our Self, of Humanity, and of Love to God's True Understanding in this way. Should the Universe be as infinite as we think, and God Himself is as Infinite as the Universe, how finite are we, how finite must our understanding possibly be?
If there were truly one Jerusalem for all Humanity to live in, it would only have to be the size of Oklahoma and Arkansas together. Think of how much more of the Earth alone is left to fill. Think then of how large the solar system is, how vast the Universe in comparison to that tiny, tiny speck of life that would be Jerusalem. Here now is the beauty of God's Perfect Love. No matter how tiny, insignificant I must feel when I truly realize these things, in God's eyes, I, and you, are just as important as the whole thing considered together. We, as individual creations of God's Love and Wisdom, are as important as an Infinite Universe.
The true beauty of God's Love and Wisdom is that not only are we as important, but we have been given the capacity to understand and realize a potential as vast as the Universe itself through a forgiveness that will never end. This is a Perfect Love for those that God has labeled as sinners, a love for even those of us who in pride turned away from His Wisdom at one point in our existence. This is a Perfect Love.
Finally, I leave you while giving witness to this fact, and I say the word "fact” knowingly. Once we as individuals truly understand that God is Perfect Love, and what that truly means, miracles do happen. The kind of miracles that turn atheists into believers, the kind of miracles that bring peace between those of different religions. The kind of miracles that cure incurable diseases.
Seek the Heart of God, Know the Balance of Heaven, we can learn a glimpse of that Perfection, and even just a glimpse is more than enough.
Justin Wallace Martin