At times I discover that I take too much for granted. Just because I read scripture all day, I’m inclined to believe most people do – and they don’t. Yesterday a doctor who has been coming here for quite a while came to see me, and I realized that I had not made myself clear; so tonight I shall try to make this a very practical lecture, yet you will find it profoundly spiritual.
In the 25th chapter of the Book of Matthew, you will read the words: “Come O blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Now, this entire chapter is made up of one parable after the other. It begins with the ten wise and foolish virgins. Then the story is told of the talents and their use or misuse, followed by this statement: “I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink. I was naked and you clothed me, a stranger and you received me. I was in prison and sick and you visited me.” Surprised that they are invited to inherit the kingdom prepared for them before the foundation of the world, they said to him: “When did we find you hungry and give you food, thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothed you? And when did we see you sick and imprisoned and visited you?” And he replied: “As you did it to the least of one of these, you did it unto me.”
Now, the world is looking for some external Christ, someone on the outside. Suppose right now someone in this community announces that Jesus Christ, an external being, is present. Do you know that the entire social world would turn itself over for the privilege of entertaining him? There would be quite a battle in the social world for the honor of giving him a piece of bread or a glass of water, to touch or talk to him, because they are looking for the wrong Christ. “Truly, I say to you, as you do it to one of the least of these, you do it unto me.” If you had the chance to do something for Christ, wouldn’t you jump at the opportunity? Well, every time you do anything to any one in this world, you are doing it to Christ. Believe me, for he cannot come from without, as he is within you!
As William Blake said: “Awake! Awake you sleepers in the land of shadows, wake! Expand, I am in you, and you in me, mutual in love divine: I am not a God afar off, I am a brother and friend; Within your bosoms I reside, and you reside in me; Lo! We are One;” But man, not believing it, turns down the valleys dark, looking for some external God who will save him.
So I said to my friend, the doctor: Whenever you are able to help the people who come into your office, you are serving Christ. For you see, Christ comes disguised. Sometimes he is wearing a black mask, or a white one, a yellow or a pink one and sometimes a sick one. Now, scripture makes no mention of any time when Jesus was sick, yet he makes the statement: “When I was sick you visited me.” And although he does not state that he was thirsty, there is one record where he asked for a drink, and when the woman of Samaria said: “You, a Jew, talk to me, a Samarian? Jews do not talk to Samarians.” Then Jesus explained the difference between the two waters saying: “If you had asked me, I would have given you living water so that you would never thirst.”
Now, for the first time Jesus reveals who he really is, and it’s to a woman. When she said: “I know the Messiah is coming and when he comes he will lead us into all things” he replied: “I who talk to you am he.” His first revelation is to a woman, and it’s to a woman that he first appears in the end. It is a bond that unfolds in this world. So if you will do anything to anyone believing you are really doing it to Christ, you will be amazed what will happen in your world!
Now let me share with you two stories that were waiting for me when I returned from Barbados recently. This gentleman said: “A co-worker and I have lunch almost every day together. For some time he spent the entire lunch period telling me about his financial problems, and although I appeared to be interested, I really wasn’t, and wondered to myself how he could possibly believe the things he was telling me. After hearing the same stories over and over again, I decided that indifference was not the answer, and I must do something about it, so in February of this year I began to listen with my inner ear. I began to hear him tell me he had more than enough money with plenty to spare.
In May he told me he came into an inheritance. He didn’t say how much, but the first thing he did was to buy himself a cabin cruiser that sleeps four. Then he sent his oldest son off to college, made extensive repairs on his home, bought himself a new wardrobe and a new car. But more important to me, I discovered that my awareness has power; that indifference is not enough – I have to act!” My friend acted and “As he did it unto one of the least of these, he did it unto me.” Then he said: “Every week I have my hair cut by a certain barber and even though I have moved I continued to go to his shop every Saturday, until one day it was closed. Deciding to look locally, I found a shop with four barbers and sat in the owner’s chair. Each week, regardless of my request, he would not take off enough of my hair, so, having watched the other barbers, I decided to go to number four.” (If you know anything about a barber shop, the number four man is the last one to arrive, and is working his way up to number one.)
“While sitting in his chair, I asked him if he liked barbering and he replied that he loved it and would love to go to an internationally recognized school for barbering. Once I discovered that he really wanted, not to be just a barber, but to be the best barber possible, I began to listen with my inner ear and heard him tell me how he graduated from the school and how much he had learned. And do you know: he not only went to the school but was the top man in his class. Then he bought out the barber, changed the personnel, and even has a receptionist to answer the phones. Now I see him every Saturday at 11:00 A.M. by appointment.”
Here is a man who saw Christ in one of the least of these and clothed him in his desire, fed his desire, and gave him the living water to drink through the use of his imagination. In this world all kinds of services are needed. What if there were no barbers, only hippies and you had to cut your own hair! Suppose there were no waitresses or ladies who are willing to clean our homes! They are Christ! Each time Doris comes to clean our home, Christ walks through our door. One day she told me of a friend who had an accident. He wasn’t hurt, but the car was. Then I said: “Doris, you can always buy a car, but your friend was made by God, so rejoice because he was not injured.” Do you know that thought changed her completely? She attends the Catholic church, but was never told that God made her because he loved her. That he never made a thing he didn’t love. Man makes cars and can replace them, but no man can replace Doris. That’s how valuable she is in the eyes of God.
So here, let me give you the side benefits of praying for another. While my friend imagined these lovely things for his co-worker, his three children were named beneficiaries of an estate of a man who died in the 1890’s. The estate had been in litigation for over seventy years and is only now being settled. Like Job, he prayed for his friends and his own captivity was lifted.
If I could only get you to realize that you dwell in everyone. That you are always looking at yourself pushed out! Unable to behold another, every being in the world is yourself made visible, so if you don’t see the Christ in another and you are only feeding the Christ, then you do not know who “I am.”
“God, Himself enters death’s door with everyone who enters and lies down in the grave with him and shares his visions of eternity, until he awakes and sees Jesus and the linen clothes that the females have woven for him at the gate of the Father’s house.” (Wm. Blake) God himself, whose name is “I am” entered death’s door in order for you to breathe. Being aware is saying “I am” and that’s God. You will never find him in any cemetery on the outside, for God, your own wonderful human imagination, laid himself down in your skull to share your dreams of eternity until you awake. And when you do you will see the linen clothes and realize who “I am.” You do not see Jesus as another, but you will know him as yourself when God’s only begotten Son calls you “Father.”
“I will tell you before it takes place, that when it does take place you may know that I am in my Father and you are in me and I am in you.” Read this in the 14th chapter of the Book of John. Well, if I am in my Father and you are in me, then are you not in my Father? Now he tells us in the 10th chapter of John that “I and my Father are one.” There is only one Father, only one body, and only one Son. There’s not a bunch of little David’s running around, or a bunch of little Fathers, but only the Father. So if David calls me Father and there is only one Father, and he calls you Father, are we not the one Father? So I tell you this before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe that “I am” the Father. And because you dwell in me, when it takes place in you, you will say “I am he!” In time the whole vast world will awaken to this wonderful plan and then we will have extended our creative power beyond what it was when we conceived the plan and entered death’s door, this limit of contraction.
Now, I can’t tell you my thrill when, in this small audience, you so believe what I tell you that you take it into the depths of your dreams as this lady did. Meeting her boyfriend’s mother in dream, she was asked: “What do you think of God?” and she replied: “Christ is not external, he is within you.” When you carry this truth into dream, where attention is the servant of vision and not its master, and you answer and bring it back to your surface mind, your conviction is in the very depth of your being.
Now, a chap who has been coming only recently tells me that in his dream he is trying to find someone who is very important to him. Seeing a crowd of people discussing something he sees the group separate and a young man, standing alone points toward him and says, “You are Father.” Now, that’s a foreshadowing. It’s not the event, but a prefiguring of it. The mere fact that he saw the foreshadowing indicates that it is not far away. So I can’t tell you my thrill as I look out at this audience, for you are all awakening.
May I tell you: everything that you could possibly want is right here and ready for the taking. My friend prayed for the barber and his co-worker, as his own children became beneficiaries of an estate which had been in litigation for many years. That’s the story of Job, the last chapter, the end of the journey. The unfolding of scripture could come to him suddenly, now, as it has to three of us present tonight. Having reached the end of the journey into the world of death, all of the evil that Lord had brought upon Job was removed. As we are told in the 9th chapter of John when the question was asked: “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” and the answer came: “Neither this man nor his parents, but that the works of the Lord be made manifest.” Everything has taken place in perfect order. Even though he has not had the mystical experience of the birth from above, he has reached the end of the journey.
Now, just before I took the platform a couple came back to tell me that in a dream our friend Jan said to him: “I will not return anymore.” She hasn’t brought it back, but he did. In the depth, Jan told him she was not returning, and that means resurrection. In the 20th chapter of Luke, the question is asked: “Whose wife will she be in the resurrection?” and he answered: “You do not understand the scriptures. In this age they marry and are given in marriage, but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age neither marry nor are they given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore. They are sons of God being sons of resurrection.” In the depth of her soul she told that one who heard it and he brought it to the surface to share with his wife. So I saw: the inner man is awakening, therefore it does not matter what the outer world looks like or what it does. The outer man goes on forever, for he is a part of this age of death.
But as I said earlier, who would not give their right arm to serve Jesus Christ? Don’t you think that if our cardinal knew that Jesus was in the city, that he would want to entertain him? And he would put Jesus at the head of the table saying: “The Lord is here” yet he would pass by one in need! You don’t give money to those you see in need unless you want them to remain there, needing money. Instead give them riches in your imagination! My friend didn’t give the man one penny – he inherited his wealth; but he did give his friend the gift of his talent, thereby multiplying it. He is among those called O blessed of my Father, come inherit the Kingdom of God. Why?
Because he gave of the one talent God gave him and fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, and clothed the naked. When his friend was financially in prison and sick at heart because of his limitation, he didn’t give him one nickel, but by exercising his God given talent, he multiplied it. This is what I am talking about. Use the talent that God gave you. Don’t bury it, afraid to test its power. Exercise each talent, and as you do, your five will make ten. If you can only use two, use them to the best of your ability and they will increase. Then you will be highly commended, for you are not called upon to share physically with others, but to use your imagination and see them as you would like to be seen, were you in their position. If you were in need, would you not appreciate someone imagining you are affluent? That’s what my friend did and that’s what I am asking you to do.
Take me seriously and use your wonderful talent on the right side. We are told that as a shepherd separates the flock, placing the sheep on the right and the goats on the left, so will our heavenly Father separate us. It is said in a harsh way, that those on the left did not apply their talents and are therefore condemned to everlasting hell; but that simply means that when you seem to die here, you enter the same world and continue until you finally take your talent and use it. Everyone is going to die. That’s the greatest certainty in the world. If you tell someone who is about to be married that they will be parted in death, they would think you were horrid, so you don’t tell them. But when you die here you are instantly restored to life in a world just like this one, even though you may have given a million dollars to a church or a museum, for that’s not using your talent.
When you treat any one as Christ, you do it unto me. And that joy you will feel as you do it! So I said to my friend, the doctor, regardless of who comes through your door, be it the richest man in town or the poorest, treat Christ and watch what happens in your world. When were you in want? When you saw it in another. And when you saw him thirsty, hungry, and naked and gave him not, that’s when you did not do it to me. It’s just as simple as that. If you put your hand in your pocket and give him anything, quite often you are simply perpetuating a bum; but when you think of him as well dressed, affluent and healthy in mind and body, that’s when you did it unto me. You are only doing it to yourself, really, for Christ is the reality, the true identity of every being. The lady of the evening is Christ making a living. Instead of condemning her, lift her up in your mind’s eye and see her affluent. She can still play the same part if she so desires, but take her out of the gutter. And remember: God is doing everything that man is doing, for God is man and there is nothing but God in the world. When you can see this, you will live by it and change your world.
Do what my friend did concerning the barber. He first made sure the man wanted to be a barber, then he gave out of his wonderful human imagination by seeing him successful. Desiring a barber in his neighborhood so that he wouldn’t have to start looking for another, he anchored him there. Now the man owns the business and it is the busiest shop in town. And his co-worker now discusses his weekend on the cabin cruiser, his new car, or the party he had in his enlarged home, for these are the things my friend gave him and the man is totally unaware of the giver!
Now let us go into the silence.