EXCEPT . . . I can't find the sentence. I know it's in there somewhere. I've hunted and hunted for it. I've asked old time Urantians to help me find it. I've asked friends to join me in the search. None of us could find it. But I know it's there. The sentence is:
"Jesus sought the Father's will even in his smallest desire."
In a book filled with passages of great power and beauty, is it possible to pick out just one sentence and say THIS one seems to have a special significance, a conceptual and emotional impact that is like a revelation within a revelation? I think it is. I think this sentence contains the conceptual power to unlock new doorways of understanding -- of life and love and work and play, of every moment of being. And it does even more than that, it reveals to us a first glimpse of the infinite nature of God. Because this sentence says three things:
- First, that the will of God extends to every possible action and decision - to every moment of being.
- Second, that the will of God is the most liberating force in the universe.
- Third, the necessity to act. This single sentence finally corrects three major religious and philosophical errors that have haunted us for centuries.
"Jesus sought the Father's will even in his smallest desire."
A great many people, even some Urantians, sincerely believe that God is too busy running the universe to be concerned with the utterly small details of daily living. They believe the will of God only applies to the big decisions, the big actions, the major circumstances of one's life, that God doesn't sweat the small stuff.
And this is the first error that sentence corrects. Because it tells us that Jesus -- a mortal of the realm, the most wholly consecrated mortal who ever lived -- made his commitment to God wholeheartedly, without reservations or qualifications. His level of commitment was 100%. Not 99.9%. And from a spiritual point of view the difference between a 100% and a 99.9% commitment is tremendous.
In matters of the spirit there is no such thing as "small stuff," for the simple reason that everything we do originates deep within our character, takes origin in our primary level of faith and in our most profound and enduring level of commitment to cosmic reality. And when that commitment reaches true levels of God partnership, as Jesus demonstrated again and again in his daily life, every act and decision becomes spontaneously spiritual.
Jesus demonstrated that there is always a Godlike way, even to do the animal stuff. He demonstrated the infinite nature of God. Would Jesus have sought the Father's will, even in his smallest desire, if the Father's will did not extend to his smallest desires? We all know the answer to that question.
Jesus knew that God inhabits infinity, that we live and move and have our being within the infinity of God. That God not only runs the universe, but also has created ways to express His will everywhere and at every moment, not only to us as individuals, but also to the vast trillions upon trillions of individuals who inhabit the grand universe. And Jesus knew that the expression of the Father's will is at every moment and in every circumstance perfectly coordinated with the progress of the entire unfolding master universe, and that God does all of these things simultaneously without ever becoming tired or overworked. And Jesus knew that as the expansion of the universe continues on into the deepest regions of infinity, God will still have plenty of time to keep on doing these things because there are no limits on the power of God. NONE! And we know that God's way to express His will for each of us is through the action of the Thought Adjusters who so valiantly share our inner life and experience. We have been taught that the Thought Adjusters are the will of God abroad in the universe.
Those who think that God is too busy to be concerned even with our smallest desires simply do not understand that God really and truly IS infinite.
God is changeless and consistent. It is man who changes. And the way man changes is through an age-old cycle of discovery, comprehension, assimilation, and action. We are slowly -- painfully slowly -- discovering God's higher ways. But our discoveries are not complete until they end in action. Our discovery of The Urantia Book is not complete until it ends in action, in a new and transformed way of living I would like to make a brief digression related to this point. I think the Urantia Movement as a whole is in a state of arrested development at the discovery stage. Strange as it may sound, in my opinion the number one problem facing the Urantia Movement today is confusion about God. . If we really understood what God is like we would not act the way we do.
As a Movement we have discovered the higher ways of truth, but we shrink from the task of attempting to comprehend the higher meanings of what we have discovered. We engage with the teachings of The Urantia Book, but we wrestle them into submission to our old ways.
Although there are outstanding individual exceptions to this statement, as a religious movement we do not seem to be able to comprehend the fullness of the inspiration of Jesus' life, and what The Urantia Book says over and over again -- which is, if we give God all that we have, God will make us more than we are. The book doesn't say almost all. It says all that we have -- 100%. And how many real 100%ers are there in this movement?
I make these observations about the Urantia Movement not as a litany of despair, but only to raise up for examination the most fundamental issue that we need to address as a group of religionists. I stand here filled with hope and confidence about our future. Like the fascinating planet we inhabit, the Urantia Movement is at this very moment trembling on the brink of a new age, or to change the simile, we are hovering at the liftoff point of an adventure into new pathways of comprehension and progress. Some would say these are the worst of times. I say they are the best of times. Never have the choices been more clear.
In the field of psychology it would be like the moment before entering into a new stage of maturation.
In the field of physics it would be like the moment just before a critical mass is achieved.
In terms of cosmic reality it would be like the moment just preceding suddenly. . In the coming months each one of us, as individuals and as groups, will be called upon to decide who we really are as Urantians, what do we really stand for, where do we really want to go with this revelation. And I have great faith in the outcome.
I will not digress further because it would take us too far away from the main point. Except to say this much: One of the great philosophical questions each of us will face is this -- Does the end justify the means And my answer is already formed. The end cannot, now or ever, justify the means for the simple reason that the nature of the means employed determines the quality of the ends produced. Ends and means do not belong to separate realms; they are of the same realm. And I believe deep within my heart that as Urantians, for us the means are the ends.
The main point is this: "Jesus sought the Father's will even in his smallest desire." Having said that the will of God extends to every possible action and decision, to every moment of being, the second thing this sentence tells us is that the will of God is the most liberating force in the universe. it could not be otherwise.
Has anybody ever said that Jesus was a robot? If Jesus held back nothing, if he attempted to harmonize even his smallest desires with the Father's will, the result would either have been a complete automaton or the most completely liberated human being who ever lived. There can be no in-between result. But we know that Jesus, as a flesh-and-blood mortal of the realm, was able to achieve awesome levels of human growth, even into the realms of the ultimate. And man simply cannot achieve such levels of growth except through complete spiritual liberation because any impediment to spiritual growth would be like driving your car with the brake on all the time.
It is eternally true -- the will of God always expands, never diminishes the human soul. God reaches into our hearts from the vast power of all infinity to fraternize with our newborn soul, and cradles it in the warmth and beauty of His love.
The vast majority of our brothers and sisters on this planet are still caught up in, and conceptually tangled in, the ancient religious and philosophical error that says the ways of God are somehow limiting. There are even some Urantians who believe this. They believe that if you give your life to God 100%, that is the end of self-expression, the end of fun and pleasure, the end of relaxation and enjoyment. Somewhere in the idea of 100% commitment they see a permanent grimness, a life under the doleful harness of a tight and restrictive control, sort of like becoming a spiritual zombie. They see the will of God to mean maximum restraint, a goodie-two-shoes, glassy-eyed dullness that cannot take a meaningful part in the simple ups and downs of everyday living.
But this error is now corrected. One single sentence in The Urantia Book demonstrates the falseness of that notion. In the way Jesus lived his life we have come to know and understand that the will of God leads to maximum liberation. Jesus told us that the truth would make us free. And the more truth we understand the freer we become.
That single sentence tells us that we can do the will of God at every moment, in every occupation, in every circumstance. That the religious life is not a separate sphere of activity, it is the sphere of living in which all other activities subsist. We are full-time religionists no matter where we work or what we happen to be doing at the moment.
For 2,000 years the Judeo-Christian ethic has taught us that there is a sacrifice involved in faith, that you always have to give something up. But The Urantia Book has led us to a higher point of view. We can now remove from our hearts and minds forever the notion that doing the will of God in any way limits us. We can now remove from our thoughts forever the notion that we have to give up something to go forward in living faith. There is no price on the commitment. There never was.
And this brings us to the third major correction.
The knowledge that Jesus sought the Father's will even in his smallest desire should bring to an abrupt conclusion mankind's long glorification of the so-called holy man who withdraws from society to engage in a life of solitary asceticism. What Jesus helps us understand instead is the necessity to act, to act out the meanings of what we have discovered.
Action is required simply because decisions cannot be consummated until we act. Progress cannot be achieved until we act. Action is the completion of decision. Action clears the way for new discoveries. When Jesus came to understand how a simple small desire related to the harmony of the universe as expressed in His Father's will, you can bet your boots he acted to conform his will to the Father's will.
There is no doubt in my mind that the technique of the Fifth Epochal Revelation is to live the teachings. Not merely to study them and thank God for them. But to live them. To act.
The question is when? If we have not already started, when do we start? I have wrestled with that question in my own life many times. My desire is to be a 100%er, and the desire is unwavering. But in the sweat and grind of daily living I know that I am holding back, making less than a 100% commitment. So there is a constant cosmic tension between my level of desire and my level of commitment. And in this respect I want to tell you a story that I once heard told in a Quaker Meeting. The story endures in my memory as one of the most spiritually relaxing stories I ever heard. (William Penn meets George Foxx. [not included])
I am thrilled and relaxed by that story because it tells me that God Isn't breathing down my neck and putting the spurs to me. He is ever gently leading me forward, making sure that as I take each step there will be no lingering doubts or backward glances. He is patient beyond words. And he knows for a certainty that in time, and with His help, there will be continued progress.
The moment we begin to get uptight about our spiritual condition, that's a sign we are trying too hard. We can't make spiritual progress in a tense condition. So let's stay spiritually relaxed. But in our relaxed state let us also send our mind forward into the higher territories of the spirit. Let us remember that at every single conscious moment of our existence, in every act, in every circumstance, even in our smallest desire, we can choose the way of God.
And if we are uncertain, let us turn to Jesus for inspiration. We can trade our mind for the mind of Jesus and ask: If Jesus were here right now, living my life, standing in my shoes, what would he do? How would he proceed? What would he say?
People generally understand Jesus' love, his mercy and compassion, his ministry. But in trading our mind for the mind of Jesus let us not forget that Jesus was also a man of resolute courage and manhood. He did not hesitate to rebuke even his closest associates when he saw that they were entering upon the pathways of cosmic error.
Let us act! As individuals. As a group.
I'm sure that all of you have had the same experience as I have had from time to time. Things that seem like formidable obstacles begin to crumble before us when we dare to go forward boldly in our faith. The bold step forward from fear and anxiety into living faith is something like coming in from the night, with all of its imagined terrors, into the clean light of daybreak. Discovering that the fear is gone and now seems foolish in retrospect. And the anxieties can now be seen for what they really were -- imaginary.
Goethe said it a long time ago. He said:
Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never have otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.
So what if we fail. So what if we fail a thousand times if we know that when we at last succeed we succeed forever. Jesus sought the Father's will even in his smallest desire.
So can we.
At the beginning of this talk I told you I can't find this sentence -- one that I regard as the most powerful sentence in The Urantia Book, and one that in the stroke of a single phrase manages to correct long centuries of religious and philosophical error. Does The Urantia Book really say this?
If it does, why aren't we paying attention?
If it does, please help me find it.
God Bless You,
To the Fort Wayne Urantia Society on the occasion of its twentieth anniversary Paul Snider
October 31, 1989
A Service of
The Urantia Book Fellowship