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Walking with God

by Steve Dreier, President, The Urantia Book Fellowship
Keynote Address, 1990 General Conference, Snowmass, Colorado

Each of us is involved in a dual relationship to God -- in the inner-life and in the outer-life. The walk with God in the inner-life concerns the personal relationship with God; the walk with God in the outer-life involves everything else.

Let us begin by considering the inner-life. The possibility of the inner walk with God is founded on the presence of two cosmic realities. One is the Thought Adjuster; the other is personality. The concept of the personal walk with God requires that both we and God are present together. Unless this condition is satisfied the concept of walking with God would be a beautiful poetic sentiment, but would have no basis in fact.

As we know, both of these realities are present with and within every normal human being. Each of us is a person; each of us has received the gift of personality from the Universal Father. Also, for the last two thousand years, every personality on this planet has received from the same Universal Father the gift of the divine Thought Adjuster -- the literal and factual presence of God within us. It is on the presence of these two cosmic realities that everything else rests. Each of us is present, and God is present with each of us. The inner walk with God involves the evolution of the relationship between the two.

The personality half of this association gives each of us our existence. We are personality. Since personality is unique, it gives each of us a unique existence. Each of us is one of a kind; no two are identical. In addition, personality gives us a self-conscious awareness of our existence; we not only exist, but we are aware that we exist. Even more, personality endows us with the awareness of awareness itself; we are aware that we are aware that we exist. Such a level of self-realization begins to touch upon the divine; the gift of personality incorporates potentials for Godlike levels of self-realization. Each unique personality is endowed with the ability to sustain relationships with all other personalities -- including prepersonalities and superpersonalities, but these relationships are not automatic; they are entirely subject to another inherent attribute of personality -- freewill choice. Finally, the additional gift of the Thought Adjuster, the literal presence of God, completes the factual basis for the inner relationship with God.

There are some interesting matters associated with the bestowal of both personality and the Thought Adjusters which are worthy of consideration. In our section of the cosmos, in the seven superuniverses, the Universal Father rarely does anything directly. Virtually every function is delegated, redelegated, and still further redelegated -- but not in these two cases. Both personality and the Thought Adjuster are bestowed directly by the Universal Father. There are no intermediaries of any kind.

When functions are delegated, some degree of control may be lost. The agent may not carry out the work as had been intended. On page 382 is this observation: "The Urantia peoples are suffering the consequences of a double deprivation of help in this task of progressive planetary spiritual attainment. The Caligastia upheaval precipitated worldwide confusion and robbed all subsequent generations of the moral assistance which a well ordered society would have provided. But even more disastrous was the Adamic default in that it deprived the races of that superior type of physical nature which would have been more consonant with spiritual aspirations."

Both our social environment and our physical mechanisms, our bodies, have been received through a delegated task. Those entrusted with these areas of responsibility did not act as planned. Serious problems resulted and we have to live with these problems. But in establishing the basis of walking with him, the Father apparently decided to allow no chance for error or default to interfere. He has given us both our self--personality--and himself--the Thought Adjuster--directly. The integrity of the inner-life relationship with the Father is unassailable. No person or power has the ability to interfere with the development of the inner relationship between God and any willing freewill personality.

There is more. The Father's presence within is not a generalized presence, but one which is individualized to each unique personality. It is true that the Thought Adjusters are equally divine, equally God; we each possess the same divine presence of God. Yet each Thought Adjuster is also individualized to the unique personality with which it is in association. Perhaps that is why we call them "Adjusters." Each is the same divine presence, but adjusted to accommodate the unique potentialities of a unique personality.

Time-space relationships are also of interest. In the superuniverses time and space usually condition everything; they must always be reckoned with. For example, there are about 1000 of us gathered here in this room this morning, and each has had to deal with time-space issues to bring this about. We have each had to traverse space, and that process required time. We were all aware, in advance, that this would be necessary, and we each made appropriate plans and, too, appropriate actions. Perhaps some of our fellowship are not present here today because their time-space requirements were too great a barrier to overcome.

The inner walk with God is one of those rare instances in which time and space are not limitations. In this case the Father has overcome the usual barriers of time-space -- neutralized or even transcended them. By placing himself within us the Father has established a situation which guarantees that he is always and everywhere with us. There is no moment and no place in which God is not with each of us. Time is not a factor in conditioning or limiting the direct relationship with God; he is always with us. Nor is space a limiting factor, for wherever we are, God is also there with us. We are always and everywhere in the immediate presence of God. The usual limiting functions of both time and space have been eternally overcome.

The inner walk with God thus involves remarkable cosmic circumstances. God is not merely with each of us; he is with each of us always and every place. He is with each of us divinely, and divinely adjusted to the uniqueness of each personality. All external potential barriers to the inner relationship with God have been overcome. Reflective consideration of this situation leads to an inevitable conclusion. It is clearly the Father's desire -- the Father's will -- that we walk with him. We were made to walk with God; it is the basic fact and fundamental purpose of our existence.

The Universal Father has given each of us an invitation to walk with him. This invitation is not one expressed with words, but with life itself; it is inherently expressed by the structure of the cosmic situation in which we find ourselves. Everything has been taken care of; all barriers have been overcome. The only remaining barrier is the willingness to accept the Father's invitation to walk with him. We are created by God as beings of freewill dignity and choice. We must consciously and willingly accept the Father's offer to be what he created us to be. We must choose to walk with God.

The acceptance of that invitation leads quickly to a discovery about the nature of God. We discover that God is love. It is an experience which is difficult to describe in language. A Divine Counselor, on page 40, says: "At times I am almost pained to be compelled to portray the divine affection of the heavenly Father for his universe children by the employment of the human word symbol `love.' This term, even though it does connote man's highest concept of the mortal relations of respect and devotion, is so frequently designative of so much of human relationship that is wholly ignoble and utterly unfit to be known by any word which is also used to indicate the matchless affection of the living God for his universe creatures! How unfortunate that I cannot make use of some supernal and exclusive term which would convey to the mind of man the true nature and exquisitely beautiful significance of the divine affection of the Paradise Father."

This lack of adequate terminology is unfortunate. We sometimes try to express the difference between God's love and human love by saying that God's love is a divine love. We also distinguish between human love and God's love by saying that God's love is a fatherly love, while human love is a brotherly love. The outer world is the domain of human or brotherly love; the inner-life is the domain of divine and fatherly love. The first great discovery of the inner walk is the realization that God loves us as a father, divinely, each of us, one at a time.

Divine and fatherly love is much different from human love. Divine love is constant; it never varies. God's love is infinite, and remains infinite; it never increases or decreases. God loves each of us in this present moment with the same infinite and divine love with which he has always loved us, and always will love us. When we find God on Paradise, he will love us with the same divine and infinite love with which he now loves us. God's love is, like the Father himself, divine, infinite, eternal, and changeless.

The Father's love originates in the freewill decision of his own divine nature. The Father chooses to love us. His love cannot be earned, nor can it be lost. It is not dependent upon anything we do, or anything we do not do. It is simply the free and unconditional gift of God to each of his children.

The Father loves all his children equally, with the same divine affection. He is no respecter of persons. We are told, on page 138, that "[t]he love of God strikingly portrays the transcendent value of each will creature, unmistakably reveals the high value which the Universal Father has placed upon each and every one of his children from the highest creator personality of Paradise status [the Eternal Son?] to the lowest personality of will dignity among the savage tribes of men in the dawn of the human species on some evolutionary world of time and space." There is no favoritism whatever with the Father. Each is loved equally.

Divine love takes some getting used to. Often, the experience of love in the outer-life does not prepare us to realize the love of God in the inner-life. Human love is often highly conditional and very fragile; it is here one moment and gone the next. Almost instinctively we come to expect our human love to be highly conditional, subject to a great variety of limits and restrictions. Failure to accommodate these conditions often results in a lessening or complete withdrawal of love. Sometimes love is even replaced by hate. Few of us have not experienced the fragility of human love at some points in our lives.

God's love is not at all like such human love. God's love has no conditions; it is a free and unconditional gift. God's love never varies; it is constant, infinite, eternal, and divine. But our experience with human love may cause us to expect God's love to be similar in character to human love. We expect his love to be conditional, fragile and variable. We expect it to come and go. We imagine a God who loves humanly, not divinely. We find it hard to accept God's love as it is; it seems just too good to be true.

Faith is the only means of escape from this situation. Faith alone will allow us to accept divine love fully and unconditionally. Faith alone can silence all the doubts and fears which may lead us to believe that we are unworthy of God's love. Faith allows us to come to the full realization that God loves each of us with the fullness of his love in each moment, unconditionally, as we are and where we are.

The incomprehensibly great gift of the Father's love must be accepted without questioning. Perhaps this is why Jesus so often said that entrance to the kingdom would require the faith and trusting dependence of a little child. It often does require a childlike consciousness to fully and unquestioningly accept the divine and unconditional love of God.

The attempt to discuss God's love with word symbols is subject to the same problems which are encountered in attempting to describe the nature of God. Our best attempts to discuss the nature of God utilize expressions such as "I AM." Perhaps the best we can do to express the nature of divine love is to say "IT IS." It remains only to be faith realized in personal experience.

The personal realization of the love of God produces profound changes in the inner-life. New standards of divine love begin to replace older standards of human love. The inner experience of being loved by God provides a new pattern for loving others. We seek to love others as we ourselves experience being loved by God. We strive to imitate God. We seek to love unconditionally, infinitely, eternally, and divinely.

One can develop a taste, a genuine enthusiasm, for loving others as God loves. It is a great adventure, and a great challenge. Attention is routinely directed to the experience of divine love in the inner-life, for it is that experience that provides the model for loving in the outer-life. The inner and outer domains are thus reciprocally related, the experience of each leading to augmented realization of the other.

The divine plan appears to provide that God's love should completely surround us, both inside and outside, but by different techniques. God takes full and direct responsibility for the presence of his divine love in the inner-life; but the presence of God's love in the outer-life is a delegated function. Each individual who attains the inner realization of the Father's love is assigned to the great collective effort to achieve the outer realization of divine love.

God's love appears in the inner-life through the direct action of God; it provides the pattern for love in the outer-life. Having provided each of us with this pattern, the Father then delegates the actualization of his divine love in the outer-life to us. He has given us everything we need to carry out the assignment. Our contribution is the willingness to accept and wholeheartedly seek to accomplish it.

It is interesting that the new commandment -- "Love one another as I have loved you" -- was first given to us two thousand years ago at the conclusion of the bestowal mission. It would not have been fair to give such a command before that. The new commandment really requires us to love others as we ourselves experience being loved by God. But experience of being loved by God is founded on God's factual presence in each person -- the Thought Adjuster. For the last two thousand years every normal human being has automatically received a Thought Adjuster, and has therefore been equipped to personally experience the Father's love in the inner-life. However before Jesus the Thought Adjusters were not automatically bestowed; some people had them, some did not. It would have been unfair to ask someone who did not have a Thought Adjuster to "love others as God loves you." Without the inner presence of God persons cannot directly experience the love of God, cannot really know how God loves them.

Prior to Jesus the highest commandment required "loving your neighbor as yourself." This is another way of saying that we should love others according to our highest concept of love, that we do the best we are capable of doing. Those who had Thought Adjusters would love as God loved; those lacking Thought Adjusters would love according to their highest philosophical standard of love.

Since the bestowal all are endowed with Thought Adjusters. God is literally present in each of us. Each of us is fully equipped to directly experience the love of God in our inner-life. It is now consistent and fair to universally require that we love others as we ourselves directly and personally experience being loved by God. The "New Commandment" really announces the universal bestowal of the inner presence of God, and indicates the presence of new capacities and new and divine possibilities for all people. All persons are equipped to love others as they experience being loved by God. One aspect of divine love is its eternal nature; God loves eternally. If we are to love as God does, our love must also reflect an eternal nature. What does this mean? How is it accomplished? How can a person love eternally?

There are no simple answers to such a question, but here is a possibility. In this room there are over one thousand of us. Between some of us deep and intimate personal friendships have developed. Between others relationships have begun, but may not have progressed very far just yet. Among still others there has not even taken place a first meeting; they are still unknown to one another.

The consciousness of being a child of God, of being loved by God, includes the consciousness of eternal life. Whoever has personally experienced the love of God knows that they will exist eternally. Given an eternity, everyone in this room will eventually meet everyone else. Deep and loving personal relationships will develop between all of us. We will all come to know each other, we will all work together, live together, laugh together, experience joys and sorrows together, and know each other literally as brothers and sisters -- every one of us to every other. It may happen on this planet, or on the mansion worlds, or the constellation, or some other place; sooner or later, however, it will happen. Everyone will come to know everyone else.

The consciousness of eternal life gives each of us the ability to project forward into the potentials of the unactualized future, and to bring the reality of that future into the experience of the present moment. The future and the present become unified in personality experience. We are living in eternity, and in eternity there are no strangers. A person that you meet for the first time is a future intimate and beloved associate. When that eternity realization is incorporated into the present moment it adds new meaning and value to all relationships. One can choose to live in eternity, and to love eternally, as God does. Ganid once asked Jesus why he spent so much time with strangers. Jesus replied that to one who knows God no person is a stranger. Perhaps, in this statement, Jesus was referring to the ability of all God-knowing individuals to recognize eternal life, and choose to live in eternity. Thus the experience of attempting to love others as God loves us begins to free us from the limitations of time. The past and future are brought together in the present moment to constitute one unified reality -- the everlasting now.

Much more could be said about the inner walk with God, and we have all week together to do that. Let us now turn our attention to consideration of the outer walk with God.

It is in the attempt to love others as we experience being loved by God that we cross the boundary between the inner and outer lives. The inner and the outer worlds are very different places, and it is important to distinguish clearly between them. Paper 15 is entitled "The Seven Superuniverses"; it is the paper which describes the physical and governmental organization of the seven superuniverses. It begins with this statement: "As far as the Universal Father is concerned -- as a Father -- the universes are virtually nonexistent; he is the Father of personalities." (*164) This statement is interesting not only for its content, but also for its location. It begins the paper in which the revelators present a detailed discussion of the superuniverses, and they apparently wish to make it very clear this outer level of universe reality is very different and distinct from the inner level of the personal relationship with God. The inner-life is the domain of the Father. The outer-life is the domain of the Supreme.

The Father--as a Father--recognizes only individual personalities. The Supreme recognizes only the collective whole. The Supreme--as Supreme--does not recognize separate individuals. The Supreme recognizes only the collective association of individuals, the unified and integrated whole. The Universal Father is concerned with the perfecting of the inner-life of each separate and distinct personality. The Supreme is concerned with the perfecting of the outer-life of the collective assembly of all beings--the integration of all Father (and other) perfected personalities, along with all things and energies, into one finite and evolutionally perfected whole.

The inner-life, the life with the Father, is characterized by grace and faith. Our only contribution to the development of the inner-life is faith; God does everything else, provides everything else which is required. The conditions of the outer-life, the life with the Supreme, are much different. In the outer-life virtually nothing is a gift; everything is earned. The inner-life is only concerned with being--being a child of God. The outer-life is additionally concerned with doing. The opening lines of Paper 115--the paper introducing the Supreme Being --make this difference clear. "With God the Father, sonship is the great relationship. With God the Supreme, achievement is the prerequisite to status--one must do something as well as be something."

The inner-life is private, strictly private. It consists of a unique and personal relationship with the Father. The outer-life is public. There are no secrets; everything belongs to everybody. Anyone can find God in the inner-life. Any ONE, and at any time and any place. No ONE can find God in the outer-life. Only together, collectively, can the God of the outer-life be discovered. The inner-life is time-and-space transcended. The outer-life must constantly adjust to the barriers of time and space. The inner-life is characterized by peace, certainty and security. The outer-life often involves uncertainty, bewilderment, struggle and challenge. The inner-life is existential; it simply IS. The outer-life is entirely experiential. Most of it remains to be.

This appears to be our situation. The Father creates us and endows each of us with a unique personal existence. He places himself within us, unassailably, individualized to our own unique nature. He loves us divinely, infinitely and eternally. Sooner or later we personally experience God's love, and as a consequence we are endowed with the possibility of loving others as we experience God loving us. This having been accomplished, the Father presents us to the Supreme for assignment. Once the inner-life is secure, the work of the outer-life begins.

The Supreme is engaged in the literal perfecting of all finite reality -- all things and beings -- into a single integrated and organic whole. Our relationship to the Supreme is functional, not personal; it is a matter of doing, not being. The Supreme delegates functional responsibility. Power control beings are assigned the task of distributing and directionalizing energy. Seraphim are assigned transport duties; they carry beings from one place to another. These assignments are not entirely optional. We, for example, will never be assigned to do the work of power control beings. We were not created for that function; we do not possess the abilities required to execute such assignments. Nor will we ever be assigned to enwrap beings in friction shields and carry them across space. We are not made for that function; only the seraphim can do that.

So what are we made for? What is our function in the outer-life domain? What is our role in service to the Supreme? On page 558 an archangel makes this observation: "The mortal survival plan has a practical and serviceable objective; you are not the recipients of all this divine labor and painstaking training only that you may survive just to enjoy endless bliss and eternal ease. There is a goal of transcendent service concealed beyond the horizon of the present universe age. If the Gods designed merely to take you on one long and eternal joy excursion they certainly would not so largely turn the whole universe into one vast and intricate practical training school, requisition a substantial part of the celestial creation as teachers and instructors, and then spend ages upon ages piloting you, one by one, through this gigantic universe school of experiential training."

Apparently it is not to be eternal bliss and endless ease. What then is it to be? From page 557: "There is a definite and divine purpose in all this morontia and subsequent scheme of mortal progression, this elaborate universe training school for ascending creatures. It is the design of the creators to afford the creatures of time a graduated opportunity to master the details of the operation and administration of the grand universe, and this long course of training is best carried forward by having the surviving mortal climb up gradually and by actual participation in every step of the ascent."

What's this? -- "to master the details of the operation and administration of the grand universe"?

From page 342: "Before spirit mortals reach Havona, their chief study, but not exclusive preoccupation, is the mastery of local and superuniverse administration." Additionally, from page 348: "...these surviving creatures have been trained to the limits of their capacity respecting every detail of every divine principle of the just and efficient, as well as merciful and patient, administration of all the universal creation of time and space." And again from page 348: "It seems evident to us that the present assignments of the perfected evolutionary creatures partake of the nature of postgraduate courses in universe understanding and superuniverse administration; and we all ask, `Why should the Gods be so concerned in so thoroughly training surviving mortals in the technique of universe management?' "

Why indeed! It would appear that our basic function with respect to the outer-life, the domain of the Supreme, has to do with matters of universe management and administration. This came as a complete surprise to me, a true revelation. It is not really what I had imagined. My ideas of the ascent to Paradise have been highly conditioned by the traditional views of this subject, and those do not project a functional destiny of management and administration responsibilities. Nevertheless, that seems to be the basic assigned role for mortal ascenders.

The initial reaction to the realization of this situation may not be one of exuberant enthusiasm. In the description of the fifth mansion world, on page 537, there is this observation: "At about this point the average mortal ascender begins to manifest bona fide experiential enthusiasm for the Havona ascent." The major work of the first four mansion worlds appears to involve overcoming mortal objections to the cosmic assignment.

We have considered two principal ways in which we walk with God -- the inner-life, and the outer-life. They are very different experiences, and are, at least initially, relatively independent of one another. One does not have to participate in the functional realities of the outer-life in order to experience the personal truths of the inner-life. Of course, sooner or later these two phases of walking with God must be unified in personal experience, but that does not seem to be required in the beginning.

The inner-life with God is freely available to anyone who sincerely desires it. No conditions apply to the realization of the Father's love except personal faith. The inner-life has been separated from the rest of cosmic reality. The Thought Adjusters come and go independently of all other cosmic administration. They are not subject to the administration of the Master Spirits, or the Ancients of Days, or any other administrative unit. The bestowal of personality also lies outside the domain of the supreme administrators; it is given directly by the Father. The Father has separated the possibilities of the inner-life from everything else; he has structured reality to insure that the relationship with him shall be subject to no condition other than the personal choice of each of his children. The Father's love is experienceable, fully experienceable, at this moment, at any moment. It is a reality unto itself.

The outer-life is entirely different. There is no relationship to the Supreme except through the acceptance of functional responsibility, including the willingness to learn to work together with other functionally responsible personalities, in ever enlarging associations, and associations of associations, until eventually there is one enormous, integrated and perfected community embracing all finite things and beings. Teamwork is the method of Supremacy. Remember the statement on page 311: "One of the most important lessons to be learned during your mortal career is teamwork. The spheres of perfection are manned by those who have mastered this art of working with other beings." We need to get used to the idea of constantly enlarging teamwork; the Supreme is engaged in the development of one unified team which includes all things and beings.

Our program this week provides opportunities to discuss both of these ways of walking with God. Some presenters have chosen to focus on the inner-life, others on the outer-life. This happy balance was not specifically structured; it has the character of an eventuated development. We seem to have inherently recognized the realities of the inner and outer lives and spontaneously arranged ourselves to give attention to each.

I would like to conclude these remarks with some prayerful thoughts. I hope that each of us, individually, and all of us, collectively, will use this week to fellowship with one another and enjoy the outstanding natural beauty of this location. I hope that each of us, myself included, will leave this place with an enriched and enlarged capacity to personally experience the Father's love, and consequently with an enriched and enlarged capacity to love others as we experience God loving us. I hope that the experience of this week will leave each of us with a clearer perception of our relationship to the Supreme, and with an augmented enthusiasm for the functional and collective responsibilities of supremacy. Finally, I hope that we will each return home with the clear realization that all of this, as magnificent as it is, is just the beginning of the beginning, the first faint realization of the infinity and eternity of our relationship with God, both inside and outside.

"No matter how much of God you may attain there will always remain much more of him the existence of which you will not even suspect. And we believe this is just as true on transcendental levels as it is in the domains of finite existence. The search for God is endless." (*1169)

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