I Already Love You
Talk by Tom Baker
Delivered both to Christ Unity Oceanside Church October 24, 2010, the Fellowship of the Inner Light October 31, 2010.
The god of the Old Testament does not love us. The Old Testament is where the wrath of God comes from. In Old Testament times there weren't signs hanging up in the temple saying God Loves You; it was more like God Is Watching You. For the kids at my first parish their favorite song for our Youth Mass was Sting's I'll Be Watching You:
"I'll be watching you, every move you make,
every smile you fake,
I'll be watching you."
They believed in a God that was basically a stalker. They believed in the God of Moses. At one point in Exodus God tries to kill Moses. Moses hides from God and lives to prophesy another day. I thought the Israelites were basically primitive self-hating people until I went on an archeological dig to Israel and saw that the Israelites lived in fortified cities. They were attacked once every 10 years or so and hid inside their walls while the enemy lived in their houses and threw spears and rocks at them. This went on until the enemy or the Israelites ran out of food and water. The Israelites were a traumatized people. They needed muscle and justice. A God who could kill Egyptians, scare away the Canaanites, and protect them from the Babylonians was a God they could believe in. If Moses and Joshua and King David were to come to America today in search of a temple they would go directly to the Pentagon. And they would understand and approve of the Autumn Sunday celebrations in many of our big cities where large men in helmets and body armor try to give each other concussions. They would nod with approval as the running back scores a touchdown and points reverently to the heavens. The Old Testament is not that old and is alive and well in the popular religions of the USA today.
The Pharisees and the High Priests, all of whom had read the Bible, some of whom had memorized it, looked at Jesus and saw a nice man but not the son of God, maybe the son of Mr. Rogers, but not the son of the God of Abraham and Isaac, not the son of the God of Moses or Joshua. The Pharisees and the High Priests asked the question, "Will God protect us? Will God make us winners? Will we conquer the Romans in the name of God?" Jesus side stepped that question and asked another question that was aimed at the heart, not at the helmet: "Will God love you no matter what? Will the no matter what love of God make you lovers of one another no matter what?" Everybody blinked back and said, "What?" We're still blinking. Does love really change anything? Can you love an active alcoholic to sobriety, can you love a teenager out of delinquency, can you love the Taliban into surrender, can you love cancer away. The answer to those provocative questions of course is "No" and also "Yes". "No" because love is not a tool; love is not a strategy; love is not a medicine. "Yes" because Love is recognition ("It's you!") the recognition of your beauty, your innocence, your grandeur, your holiness and in that recognition the problem may become irrelevant. There is a High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, named St. Xavier's that has a very, very good football team. They have won the state championship twice in the last ten years. But the philosophy of the coaching staff is not one of dominance or power. Their first priority is not winning. Their first and last priority is love. The coaches have a kind of ritual drill in which they say to the players "what is my job with you" and the players say back "to love us" and "what is your job with each other" and they shout back "to love one another". The players are told that no one in the school should ever have to eat lunch alone and if they see someone sitting alone, to offer to join them. The players are told to even love the players on the other team. St. Xavier High School is a pretty happy place because the students and the staff are recognizing one another in the way God recognizes us: "Hi Holy one, would you like to have lunch?" Most of what Jesus did with people was eat with them. He saw the world sitting alone and hungry and he multiplied lots of food. Were you to happen upon Jesus in action it would probably look more like a cross between a deli and a mash unit rather than a church.
The interesting thing about love is that is doesn't have to be explained. We're born believing in it. We assume that we're loved. None of us is born with doubt. No child is born looking skeptical about whether they should be hugged or not. No child tells their parent: "Don't bother to feed me, I don't deserve good food, and take my toys away. In my past lives I was bad and don't deserve to play." We learn doubt as we get older, we learn to doubt that we're safe and, then, to doubt that we're loved. We may start to think that love comes with a price or that love must be proven or that love is only for certain people or even that love has disappeared from the earth. Dr. Jerry Jampolsky, the psychiatrist who was an early proponent of A Course In Miracles, had the serious proposal that children be allowed to attend and comment on all peace negotiations because they still believe that love is the norm rather than the exception. And that brings me to an odd truth. We already love each other. You will notice that when you look deeply at anyone you love them. When Jesus asked his disciples to love one another, he might have been meaning: remember that you already love one another. If we could simply do that it would change the world. And in about a week. But in our present state of spiritual awareness, and the wounding that compromises the full and ecstatic realization that I already love you, we must first address our lack of trust.
We have stopped believing in love because our trust has been compromised. When trust is broken, love is withheld. Trust is the gate of love. We stop trusting when we have been hurt or deceived or tricked or excluded or ignored, especially ignored. We shut the gate. How can we get trust back? Don't hurt, tell the truth, be straight-forward, share, and recognize everyone as a person. (The Ten Commandments: the Old Testament justice is about making the world safe.) The greatest power I have is people's trust. When people trust me they open up, they dare to be themselves, they relax. And they consider returning to their belief that I already love them and they already love me.
NOW FOR MY PROBLEM WITH GOD. I don't know if I trust God. God has enormous power in my life when I trust him, her, it, the all that is, Love Itself. But when I do not trust God the power and the purpose drains from my life. I'm alone with a few old ideas. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus goes home to Nazareth, where he grew up; the hometown folks notice no carpenter tools, see no sawdust on his clothes. Jesus is not the one they know, and they do not trust him. He is able to perform a few healings but no miracles. The gate of trust is closed and love watches from a distance.
God is hard to trust because God is completely out of my control. God is even beyond my understanding. Yet when I dare to give a day to God, I'm impressed how just the right things happen at the right time, the answer to my questions fall out of people's mouths and it's never the people I expect or the things I have planned, but it works and I'm delighted. Things work. But there is one more thing though that makes me want to trust God. And that is that God has trusted me. I once hypnotized a client deeply and got in touch with her higher self. We went up 18 levels of consciousness and the higher self said, "Hello." I asked the higher self for help with this person, I needed some wise, transcendent advice so I could help this person out of her anxiety and depression. The higher self gently but firmly told me that I was the one who knew how things worked down there in the earth and that I was dong just fine. Her higher self trusted me.
It had never really occurred to me that anyone's higher self or the Holy Spirit or God would trust me. But there, on a Thursday evening in my little office, the forces of light said to me, in effect, "You're a lot more in touch with the earth plane than we are. We'll give you the light and the right circumstances but we trust you to carry out the plan. You're doing fine." So it may boil down to this: if God trusts me, maybe, just maybe I can trust God. Then the gate of love will open and I will know that I am already loved.
© Copyright Tom Baker 2010