Sunday, June 28, 2015
The Spiritual Worth of Humanity #JesusFollowers
"But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about humanity, because he knew what was in us." John 2:24, 25.
What is in us, and what is merely superficially attached to us, are different things; as different as the soul and the body. Jesus knew what was in humanity; ordinary observers only know what accompanies or describes us considered from the outside. Knowledge of humanity and knowledge of a person are different things: one refers only to our personal history, the other to our nature and essential qualities.
This knowledge is frequently expressed by clever people who sum up their whole conception of human nature with a general suspicion and contempt for their species.
Knowledge of the world (for them) usually means only knowledge of the vices, selfishness, and weaknesses of humanity. Those who trust their fellow-creatures, who readily believe their word, who easily expect them to be influenced by high motives, are deemed by them as gullible and ignorant.
They see, behind their masked faces, only how unworthy people are.
But the theory of Christianity is that humans are beings made in the image of our Maker; that we carry within us the spirit of God; that we are capable of rising above the carnal and selfish parts of our character; and we possess in our reason and conscience the elements of an ideal being worthy of the Divine Source from which we sprang.
To believe this is faith, and faith is the ultimate principle and the all-controlling method of religion; and when Jesus appeals to us, it is faith appealing to faith.
If we cannot be the kind of creature Jesus assumes us to be, if we have no latent capacity for disinterested goodness, and cannot love God more than our immediate pleasures and desires; if we are naturally and permanently low, lustful, self-seeking creatures – then Jesus might as well have called upon the stones to erect themselves into temples, or called the beasts of the field to come and worship in them, than to have called on us to repent and forsake our sins and to love God with all our heart and soul and our neighbor as ourselves.
Nothing can rise above or pass beyond the limits of our nature. No training, no rewards, no punishments, no patience, can make a brute into a human being. But who has discovered the limits of humanity? And what study of past history, what list of gifted people, exhausts humanity’s possibilities?
This is the doctrine of Christianity: that we have within us a sure, direct access to God's spirit! This is what Jesus knew to be in us; and in having this, he knew us to be capable of building up the kingdom of righteousness in ourselves, in the human race, and in the civilization of the future.
This is the glory of faith: It cannot be outvoted, outnumbered, or trampled to death, because it is only a little one amid ten thousand. Faith knows that one spark of fire is worth a mountain of ashes, a rift of blue sky more significant than a whole heaven of clouds and darkness.
The Source of thought and of aspiration and charity must smile at our concern about His honor and glory, when we think the decay of human errors and ecclesiastical slavery can ever put in peril His spiritual rule. There have been more thoughts, and more educating thoughts, of God since we got off our knees with their faces turned to the ground, and stood upon our feet straining our sight to look into the very eyes of the Great Invisible, than ever before since His worship began in blindness, fear and superstition.
In spite of the decline of priestly influence, church dominion, and implicit believability, there never was a day when Jesus had so lofty a throne in the common heart of humanity as now. He has come down from his seat in the clouds, from the blinding glory of a mystic adoration, to become the companion, guide, and example for us — to be for us what he was to his disciples: one on whose bosom we may lean and freely ask him questions in our doubts and perplexities – more truly divine, because so exquisitely and intelligibly human. His kingdom is now building upon the earth, and not merely in the skies.
Adapted from a sermon by Rev. Henry W. Bellows