Greetings and good morning brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we seek to understand the meaning of the spiritual challenge.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Spiritual Challenge
n as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Matthew, Chapter 5, Verse 48
Brothers and sisters, in today’’s broadcast we offer some suggestions that will help us have more faith and recognize the divine spirit in our minds. We must assume that the spirit is within the mind and that we interact with this spirit even as it interacts with us. This calls for faith. We want to place on a firmer foundation our faith-recognition of the divine spirit. We have to use faith-reason to do this.
Let us consider our most supreme spiritual challenge. (By solving this problem, we will also solve the problem of identifying and recognizing the divine spirit.) The spiritual challenge begins when the Father issues the command for us to be perfect even as he is perfect. The command was issued from eternity and caught up with our conscious minds over 2,000 years ago when the divine Son, Jesus, assumed the form of a human being in perfection. He showed us then and shows us now how to achieve perfection. It is important to focus our faith upon this command; if we do, we avoid certain contradictions and errors.
We are experiential beings and thus must have experience in order for that experience to be real to us. Because we life in a time-space universe, we must grow from imperfection to perfection. Let us review some questions and answers which will clarify our understanding of what it means to be perfect even as the heavenly Father is perfect. What do we mean by moral and spiritual perfection? Moral perfection redounds to recognizing and carrying out all of our moral obligations, carrying out all of our duties and responsibilities that we recognize.
Today, there are many moral responsibilities we have not yet recognized or acted on. They apparently dwell in the thick darkness. Along the way we acquire moral wisdom and moral enlightenment, which helps us recognize right from wrong and to choose wisely. As we make our way up the hill of increased moral responsibility, discerning and executing our responsibilities becomes more difficult. When all of our moral responsibilities have been recognized and actualized, then our moral characters are considered perfect.
By spiritual perfection, we mean the development of a character like the divine Son, Jesus, who revealed to us what a spiritually perfect character looks like. This spiritual character has its beginning with the creation of our souls by our moral will and the divine spirit. As this soul gains experience, it gradually becomes spiritually perfected. Becoming spiritually perfected, it also becomes morally perfected. If we seek spiritual perfection, inclusive of the quest will be the finding of moral perfection. Spiritual perfection is always moral.
By following Jesus, by dedicating our lives to doing the Father’’s will, we achieve the goal of spiritual perfection. What is the Father’’s will? The Father’’s will is the process of becoming like the Father. We achieve this by prayer and worship. As we pray, we learn how to become like Jesus in character. By maintaining constant communion with the Father, we come under his spiritual influence, and our characters are gradually configured to his. As our souls become more and more like the Father, our outward decisions reflect increasingly his character.
Increasingly are our lives coordinated and harmonized. Increasingly we move into harmony with the spiritual helpers who are arranging the circumstances and interactions we need to possess ourselves of those values and meanings that constitute spiritual growth. Increasingly are we becoming more reliable, more trustworthy. Increasingly are we becoming more skilled in recognizing the underlying needs of our brothers and sisters. Increasingly are we able to detect and do little things for our brothers and sisters that are such a comfort for them. Increasingly do we say, "Here I am, send me!" Increasingly are we able to be where we are supposed to be. Increasingly are we able to never be in a hurry but always be on time. Increasingly are we able to obey the command of the spiritual helpers: Be there! Increasingly our minds shift from self to other selves, from selfishness to unselfishness. Increasingly we begin to recognize and realize that our greatest joy is lovingly and mercifully, unselfishly serving our brothers and sisters.
Is our ability and success in doing the Father’’s will determined by our emotions? When we are feeling upbeat, does that mean we are really doing the Father’’s will? And by contrast, when we are feeling down, does that mean that we are not being very successful in doing the Father’’s will? The answer, of course, is no. Success in doing the Father’’s will is only conditioned by our wholehearted desire to do the Father’’s will. Our emotional reactions come and go, depending on what is going on in our lives. Our emotions are not part of the spiritual experience of becoming perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect. But there is good news. As we continue our efforts to do the Father’’s will, we can expect our emotions to align with our righteous decisions rather than our decisions aligning with our emotions. Decisions based primarily on emotions can only bring disaster.
Does our physical status, being free of afflictions and material handicaps, determine whether we are successful in doing the Father’’s will? If we are successful, does this mean we are restored to perfect health? Is the status of our physical bodies an indicator of supreme faith? Again, the answer is no. Success in doing the Father’’s will is only conditioned by our desire. The fruits of the spirit flow regardless of the body’’s physical condition. The indicator of our success in doing the Father’’s will, becoming perfect as he is perfect, is the degree to which the fruits of the spirit flow through us to our brothers and sisters.
Now that we have established the ground rules in our search to identify and recognize the divine spirit, we are now in a position to move closer to faith-recognizing and identifying the divine spirit in our minds. We identify and recognize the unselfish loving impulses in our minds and souls as emanating from the divine spirit. These impulses have an outward drive; when we act on the impulse to love, the divine spirit becomes real to our consciousness. As this love flows through us, we experience the impulses of the divine spirit.
Finally, we faith-recognize our desire to love others as the presence of the divine spirit, since God is love. The more we grow spiritually, the more we become like Jesus, the greater the quality of recognition of the divine spirit. Though qualitative recognition varies, quantitative recognition does not. The presence of the divine spirit is recognized at all stages of the growth process--that is, divine love is present at all times. The divine spirit is pre-personal. If we want to personalize this spirit, we visualize the divine Son, Jesus, who is the personal revelation of the Father. The Spirit of Truth, Jesus’’ Spirit, will enshroud our decisions so that we select conduct that is acceptable to the Father.
As this process continues, we eventually arrive at the exalted state where we become perfected in spirit. Worship is the secret to becoming like the Father. We always identify with those we admire and long to be like. Worship shows us the image of the Father’’s Son, the image that we are trying to identify with and become like. This is a growth process but nevertheless real. And we can expect that as time goes on, we will be more and more transformed into the image of his Son, Jesus. We will have completed the first stage of the spiritual challenge to be perfect even as the heavenly Father is perfect and in the process will have identified and recognized the divine spirit that lives in our minds and souls. The search for the Father’’s spiritual perfection for us means to continuously bestow love on our brothers and sisters while we enjoy new discoveries of love bestowed on us and on them.
This concludes today's message on understanding meaning of the spiritual challenge. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr James Perry.