Finding Perfection in Life
Posted on 09/28/2014 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
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*** there are no public prayer requests this week ***
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KING OF KINGS
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
Jesus, Prince of Peace
Jesus, Prince of Peace
I SURRENDER ALL
All to Jesus I surrender
All to him I freely give
I will ever love and trust him
In his presence daily live
All to Jesus I surrender
Humbly at his feet I bow
Worldly pleasures all forsaken
Take me, Jesus, take me now
All to Jesus I surrender
Lord, I give my self to thee
Fill me with thy love and power
Let thy blessing fall on me
I surrender all
I surrender all
All to thee, my blessed Savior
I surrender all
HE IS LORD
For he is Lord, he is Lord
He has risen from the dead
and he is Lord
Every knee shall bow
Every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord
For you're my Lord, you're my Lord
You have risen from the dead
and you're my Lord
Every knee shall bow
Every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord
*** listen to the audio to hear the introduction ***
Recently, we've been repeatedly touching upon the truth that the only time anything can happen is in the present moment. The only time we can do the right thing is right now. The only thing that is right for us to do or not do is the one thing we can do now. Every other time and every other action is inappropriate and out of place.
Last week, we talked about the truth that the only time you can seek God and the only time you can find Him is right now. And today, I'd like for us to have not so much a message as such; rather, I'd like for us to practice glorifying, honoring, and "being" with God right now.
Let's start by considering this virtual world. If you're just listening outside of Second Life, you can just use your imagination. But for those of us interacting inside of Second Life, consider what you see and hear right now.
You hear my voice. You hear these words. Your attention is being pointed, by these words, to something that is beyond words. After all, truth is not words. Words simply point to it. Truth is not a series of thoughts. Thoughts can, at best, just point to it. More often, though, they act as a veil that comes in between the truth and us.
But all that aside, you also see your own avatar, the virtual body that represents you, and you see other avatars that represent the other people who are also part of our gathering.
Will you be upset later today when you log out of Second Life, and your avatar ceases to exist? Of course you'll be able to turn back on your computer and log back in, and there it will be. But suppose Linden Labs experienced a major natural disaster, and all the data for your avatar was lost.
Some of us would find that quite vexing. But all of us would eventually get over it. It's just a bunch of ones and zeros, after all.
Just like your physical body. Your body that's probably sitting down, whether on a chair or a couch or a bench or a bed. And you can feel your breath going in and going out. You might also be able to feel the life inside of your body, as you use your eyes to see the computer monitor, and you use your ears to hear my voice, and you use your mind to imagine you're actually here in this virtual place.
But just as your avatar is temporary and could be gone in an instant, so your physical body is temporary and will disolve in a day, figuratively speaking. But thinking about your body turning to dust is probably a lot more troubling for you than thinking about Linden Labs losing your Second Life avatar.
And of course they're different in a lot of ways. You need your body to interact with this physical world. Once your body is gone, you can have no body at all until you are given a new one by God.
Well, actually, that's not much different than losing your avatar in Second Life. The difference is that you have both a physical body AND an avatar, and while your physical life that you've known 24-hours per day for decades depends on your having a physical body, all of Second Life is relatively nothing.
Except as something to help give you perspective.
We take the temporary things so seriously. Some of us seem to act as though nothing else really matters, except in the "sweet by and by."
We would think someone had a serious issue if they were in Second Life all the time and went into serious melt down when the servers had to go down for maintenance or there was an unexpected system crash. And yet, if our home burned down or someone stole our car, we might find ourselves feeling as though our loss is as troublesome as death.
As ambassadors of Christ, when someone experiences such a loss, we mourn with them as they mourn. Not because their loss of something that was always temporary anyway, is really anything in the light of eternity and next to that which lasts forever; but the sorrow they feel is what should cause us to mourn.
If our brother or sister feels joy, we rejoice with them. If our brother or sister feels pain, we seek to comfort them. If our brother or sister mourns, we sit down beside them and mourn with them too.
Romans 12:15 (NKJV) says this:
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
But suppose we realize that they were going to lose that temporary thing anyway, and it's not REALLY any true loss at all. So we sit there feeling somehow superior, or more "enlightened" than they are. Well, let's read the next verse, verse 16:
16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
That same earthly mind that identifies with the things of this earth and experiences pain when those things that were always going to dissolve some day actually do what they could not NOT do, and they do, indeed, dissolve; the same earthly mind in us that does that is the same earthly mind that feels so good about itself when it thinks it's grasped that truth.
And so it's no better off than it was before. It's still using THINGS to exalt itself.
For some, those "things" are earthly riches, material posessions, or recognition; for others, those "things" are relationships or ministry involvement; for still others, those "things" are ideas and mental concepts, perhaps about the things we're discussing today, or about some intellectualized model of a deeper spiritual truth.
These are all symptoms of the same disease with which we are all born, and which our society feeds, promotes, and even worships.
It's the knowledge of good and evil. Or, put in different words, carnal judgment.
This carnal judgment tells us that
Gain is good, but loss is bad.
Sunshine is happy, but rain is sad.
Birth is to be celebrated, but death is the end.
Hardship is our enemy, but comfort is our friend.
We mourn loss only because we were clinging to that which we thought we had.
We complain about rain and snow because we are at odds with Life, which is always here and now.
We fear death because we are holding on to and totally identified with the things of this earth instead of living in the mind of Christ.
We think of hardship as an enemy to avoid for the same reason we feel down on a dark and rainy day, which is because we have not made friends with Life, which is always here and now, and because we are focused not on Life, but on Stuff -- temporary things such as material posessions, our looks or health, our physical body, our relationships, our opinions and beliefs, and the mind-created psuedo self we have come to believe we are.
But when the power goes out, and Second Life disappears, and your avatar blinks out of existence with it, you can look around you and see that Life goes on. You are still there. And you are a little more awake than you were when you were lost in the virtual world, as you begin to more fully accept what really is.
And when the money stops coming in, and you lose your transportation, or you don't have the food you're used to eating, or you're afraid you're going to be forced out of your home and onto the streets, you can either go further to sleep, or you can become a little more awake as you fully accept what is and take appropriate action, instead of fighting against it and imagining that it has the power to steal your Life.
Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV) says this:
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And so we hear that, and we think, "Okay, so I believe that God still loves me even when Life is horrible." But know that those thoughts are coming from your mind, not from you, and see what really is.
The Love of God IS God, for as 1st John 4:8 says, God IS Love. So physical death or life, angels or principalities or powers, the circumstances we call "our life" and the imagined future we treat as something real, our physical surroundings, or anything else in this temporal physical world; none of these things have the power in and of themselves to separate us from God, to separate us from Life.
Only WE can GIVE them power by clinging to them and placing our sense of identity in them. Then, when something temporary passes away, something we identify as part of who we think we are, we feel as though we've lost a part of ourself.
But this is impossible. NONE of those things can diminish who we are -- for we are Life, and we are one with God, who is Life and Love. Everything else just comes and goes, and ALL of it WILL go.
In John 11:25b (NKJV), Jesus says this:
"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live."
Now of course Jesus is using the language of the earth-bound mind. "Though he may die" is referring to the being's physical body. He could have also said, "Though his physical body dies, yet he is still alive." But consider this:
Jesus could have worded everything from the perspective of a completely enlightened being. And those who were trapped in the earthly point of view would STILL be trapped; they would simply have a new flavor of entrappment.
Until someone is ready to see PAST words and the earthly mind, they CANNOT see past them no matter how much head knowledge they might gain.
You cannot achieve the eternal perspective with your mind, just as you cannot reach an intimate place with God by the graspings of your earthly mind. All these things are out of its reach, and by grasping for them, it adds to the false you, and it continues to block your vision.
So whether it's avatars and virtual locations, or physical bodies and earthly posessions, placing your identity or your sense of self into them will result in suffering, because these things are not who you are, they are not who God is, and they are not Life.
Okay. So we got to where you are right now, with your body sitting where it is as you look at your computer monitor and listen to the sound of my voice. And if I could, I would like to ask you to look away from the monitor right now, and look around you. And just experience your surroundings. You probably see walls, but "walls" is just a word. That's not what they ARE, that's just a label. You could say, "well, what they are is drywall and wood." But "drywall" and "wood" aren't what those materials are; "drywall" and "wood" are just words. They POINT to something, but they are NOT that something.
So instead of thinking that you're seeing walls, just see them. Stay with me for now, this isn't just an empty exercise, although it can certainly feel like it to the human mind.
Next, hear the sounds all around you. You might hear the fan inside your computer, and maybe the sound of the hard drive. You might hear wind blowing, or someone's music playing, or cars driving by. You might hear rain falling, or people talking, or animals fighting or playing. And all those words are not what you're hearing, they are just labels. Forget about the labels, and just hear what is.
That is Now. That is "what is." And in THAT, be with God. Honor God. Do or don't do what is right to do or not do right now.
And see God in it. Not just in your doing or not doing. Not just in the sounds. Not just in the forms. Not just in your mind, as it tries to grasp hold of the concept of what it means intellectually to see God in everything.
But sense that stillness even in movement. Hear that silence that is a space around the sounds. Feel the aliveness that is in your body. All these things, all these perfect gifts, are given to you by God.
"Oh, but they're NOT perfect!" That's just your carnal mind moving under the influence of carnal judgment, the sickness that came from our eating the forbidden fruit.
The truth is, from the perspective of spirit, everything is absolutely perfect just the way it is.
"But kids are starting to death in Africa!" Is there something you can do to help someone right here and right now? If you can feed someone right now, then that is the perfect thing for you to do. If you can NOT feed someone right now, then trying to feed someone right now is inappropriate and out of place.
But chances are, there is no one right here and right now who is starving to death. Or being murdered. If they ARE being murdered, the right thing for you to do is to at least call 9-1-1. Don't just sit there in front of your computer like an idiot.
And if they're not, don't go all mental and imagine how things wouldn't be so perfect if they weren't like they are right now.
"But what if I was on a desert island and rabid monkeys were getting ready to eat my face off? Would things be perfect THEN?!"
You're not, and they're not. The carnal mind can always think of a million ways in which things would not be acceptible if they were not as they actually are right here and right now.
And if that doesn't work in getting you to be at enmity with Life, the carnal mind will start finding fault with your story. You have bills to pay. You have to go to work tomorrow, which is supposedly a bad thing. Or you CAN'T go to work tomorrow. You've been fighting with someone. Your car doesn't work. Your electricity is getting shut off next week. You don't know where your food is coming from next month.
But those are all things that are not right now, or right here. If you can and should do something that will affect any of those things right here and right now, then do that one thing right now. If not, then doing that thing is inappropriate and out of place.
And so, if you don't take it seriously and get all upset by it with THOSE things, it moves as close to the here and now as it dares, and might start finding fault with what is.
The neighbor's music is too loud. The paint is peeling. The dishes need to be done. The yard needs to be mowed or the leaves need to be raked. The computer is operating too slowly.
Are you going to ask the neighbor to turn down his music? You could do that. It might not have the best results. But if you're going to do it right now, then why are you still sitting here? If you're going to just sit here, then you're not talking to the neighbor about it right now, and it is therefore out of place.
Are you going to scrape the paint and repaint the wall right now? Then do it. You're not? Then that action is out of place. Even if you ARE standing there with a paint scraper in your hand right this moment, it is still perfect that the paint is as it is. And as your hand moves the scraper over it, the breaking and falling of the paint is perfect. It is beautiful.
The same goes for the house and yard work.
And your computer. Maybe it's "too slow." Is it really? Is it SUPPOSED to be faster? Does that thought help you? Or does it just cause you suffering? Someone who is used to a very old and very slow computer that can't even stream this audio or run Second Life, they would think your computer is blazing fast. So it's not your computer that's not perfect, it's your mind. And when you choose to see things through that carnal mind, everything else looks imperfect too.
And even your mind is perfect as it is. Does it still need to be transformed and renewed? Of course. But how you think your mind should be some time in the imagined future is not how your mind is right now. And by listening to these words and pondering to what truth they might be pointing, you're doing the one thing that is right to do right now.
Bemoaning the fact that everything is as it is right here and right now, is not helpful. And it puts you at odds with Life, which is right here and right now.
Instead, embrace Life. Fully surrender to what is. This is true gratitude for what God is giving you right now.
As James 1:17 (NKJV) says,
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
Maybe something terrible happened to you in the past. Maybe you were sexually abused. But when God promised to work all things together for your good, He didn't say, "well, except for THAT."
And if ALL things are working together for your good, and when God says "good," He means completely and absolutely good; if ALL things are working together for your good, then what IS right here and right now, is perfect.
It can be no other way.
Yes, it will change, and you can take action right now that will result in its change, but whenever you look at it, it will be exactly as it is right then. And it can be no other way than it is right then. Just as it can be no other way right now than it is right now.
I know, I might as well be talking and talking about how the sky is blue. We all KNOW it's blue. But if all we ever saw was a sky full of clouds, we might argue that the sky isn't blue, it's gray. And there is no sun, just a dim light that sometimes radiates from the clouds for a short time.
Don't fight Life. If fighting Life was the way to make good things happen, then this world would be heaven on earth. But the truth of the matter is that, if you are in heaven on the inside, then you will see heaven everywhere you look. If you are in intimacy with God right here and right now, then everything will look beautiful and alive, regardless of the details.
And if you are fighting Life on the inside by being at odds with what is, then you will see problems and troubles all around you, and you will suffer.
That's just the way it is.
This doesn't mean you won't experience pain. This doesn't mean you won't mourn loss, especially of someone you love. But this DOES mean that, even in that pain, is the perfection of what is, and you can fully accept that it is so. And in doing so, you can be fully in the everywhere and right now presence of God.
So right now, right where you are, whatever is going on around you, let it be. It's okay. You don't have to pass carnal judgment on it. That's just the poison fruit talking anyway.
Every single circumstance around you is good and perfect in its core, for God is there, as Romans 8:23 says.
And so you see the peeling paint, you hear the neighbor's music, you see your computer freezing again, and it's all okay. It's all "perfectly" okay. It's all good. It is all coming right now from the Father of Lights. In Him, there is nothing but good, and He is everywhere. In Him, there is no shadow, no hint of anything even slightly less than perfect. And He is in everything, regardless of even the devil's intentions.
Take a moment to look around you without labeling, and to listen intently to everything around you without judging or making it into a thought, and know these things first hand. Don't TRY to know it, just let it be, and the knowing will come all on its own. Your striving just pushes it away, while your full acceptance of the Life that is God, the Life that is fully in your here and now, that full surrender to what is, leads to that deep first-hand knowledge of the perfection in this present moment. And since the only true perfection is in the One Source of all these good and perfect gifts, you cannot help seeing and knowing Him in everything too.
Let's go ahead and close today's service. If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, feel free to instant message one of us. Or if you're listening outside of Second Life, you can go to the website at almcyberchurch.org, click the Pastors' Offices link, and contact us there.
You're free to leave whenever you like, and if you can stay for a little while, you are invited to make your way up the stairs into the room to your left, and we'd like to fellowship with you there for awhile.
Before that, for the next few minutes, this altar is open, and let's just spend a few minutes letting what we've heard and the Scriptures we've read sink in, as we become fully present, right here and right now, enjoying the good and perfect gifts from God, regardless of what disguises they might be wearing.
*** listen to the audio for closing prayer ***