In October of 2016, I mentioned the publication of the book “The New Messenger,” a book of the New Message from God. I didn’t share too much of it at the time. This is another post in a series of Amazon reviews of the books of the New Message from God. I am adding additional material [in brackets]. I realize I hold a minority opinion, but I dare to declare that the Messenger is in the world.
The Messenger is in the world.
Marshall Vian Summers has been receiving material from 1983 to the present. This book is a collection of 13 revelations received between 2009 and 2014. Most of them were received in Colorado. One was received in Damascus, Syria, and one was received in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
This book paints a picture of God working in human history through sending Messages (Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and what is now known as the New Message from God). These Messages are not merely bodies of information, but a new reality. A Message from God doesn’t arrive like a letter in the mail. A Messenger (Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Marshall Vian Summers) is selected to come into the world from the Angelic Assembly. For a certain amount of time, these Messengers seem like relatively ordinary people. But a certain unseen preparation is taking place.
Then a moment of initiation takes place, and a new life begins. These Messengers have the task of receiving, demonstrating and proclaiming their Messages. Some people respond with rejection and ridicule, for various reasons. Others respond with interest and resonance. Eventually the Messenger leaves the world, and God waits until the next time a Message must be sent.
What does this Messenger bring to you? A Message teaching to how to navigate difficult times ahead. A Message teaching how to serve a troubled, reckless, adolescent, destructive world. A Message teaching that humanity faces its greatest trial, and its greatest opportunity. A Message proclaiming purpose, meaning and direction for the individual. A Message speaking of humanity’s preparation for a future in a greater community of intelligent life. This Messenger brings his demonstration of his Message. He offers no miracles or dispensations besides his Message.
What does this Messenger ask of you? He asks for your recognition and engagement with his Message. It is a large body of material. He asks for your recognition of him as the Messenger. He asks you not to ascribe miraculous powers to him. While he is in the world, he asks for your engagement with him, as part of his Message is his demonstration. He asks for you to hear and respond to his proclamation of his Message. He asks you to benefit from the wisdom he has to share.
I consider August 10 to be a red-letter day. A day of celebration on the calendar of the uniting world. On August 10, 2019, humanity has gone 74 years without using a nuclear weapon in warfare. I have written about the wondrous date of August 10 here, here and here. I had a fleeting thought of purchasing a cake with seventy-four candles, and passing out slices to strangers. I have a whole year to plan for next year.
I consider the period between August 6 and August 10 to be a season of contemplation of nuclear weapons, a season of hope for nuclear restraint. I discovered some things I didn’t know during this season that I would like to share.
We are still here. We are still trying
Bing Crosby won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1945, for his performance in the movie “Going My Way.” But Joseph Stalin gave an even more amazing performance at the Potsdam Conference of 1945. America was hoping to secure Russia’s assistance in defeating Japan. The first successful atomic bomb test was on July 16, 1945. America was planning to use the atomic bomb. Harry Truman didn’t trust Stalin, but couldn’t not tell him about the atomic bomb, and keep him as an ally. US Secretary of State James F. Byrnes writes of the occasion:
“He [Truman] said he had told Stalin that, after long experimentation, we had developed a new bomb far more destructive than any other known bomb, and that we planned to use it very soon unless Japan surrendered. Stalin’s only reply was to say that he was glad to hear of the bomb and he hoped we would use it. I was surprised at Stalin’s lack of interest. I concluded that he had not grasped the importance of the discovery. I thought that the following day he would ask for more information about it. He did not. Later I concluded that, because the Russians kept secret their developments in military weapons, they thought it improper to ask about ours.”
Yet, as is now abundantly clear in evidence from the Soviet archives, Truman misjudged his opponent. Stalin knew quite a lot. On August 7, the day after the destruction of Hiroshima by the Little Boy uranium bomb, [Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs] Molotov (now back in Moscow) met with U.S. Ambassador Averell Harriman. He told the American: “You Americans can keep a secret when you want to.” Harriman observed “something like a smirk” on Molotov’s face, and later noted that “the way he put it convinced me that it was no secret at all . . . The only element of surprise, I suppose, was the fact that the Alamogordo test had been successful. But Stalin, unfortunately, must have known that we were very close to the point of staging our first test explosion.” Harriman’s intuition was correct.
We are still here. We are still trying. Many words have been written about Harry Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb. I recently read Harry Truman’s diary entry from that time.
“We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world. It may be the fire destruction prophesied in the Euphrates Valley Era, after Noah and his fabulous Ark.
Anyway we “think” we have found the way to cause a disintegration of the atom. An experiment in the New Mexico desert was startling – to put it mildly. Thirteen pounds of the explosive caused the complete disintegration of a steel tower 60 feet high, created a crater 6 feet deep and 1,200 feet in diameter, knocked over a steel tower 1/2 mile away and knocked men down 10,000 yards away. The explosion was visible for more than 200 miles and audible for 40 miles and more.
This weapon is to be used against Japan between now and August 10th. I have told the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimson, to use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children. Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop that terrible bomb on the old capital [Kyoto] or the new [Tokyo].
He and I are in accord. The target will be a purely military one and we will issue a warning statement asking the Japs to surrender and save lives. I’m sure they will not do that, but we will have given them the chance. It is certainly a good thing for the world that Hitler’s crowd or Stalin’s did not discover this atomic bomb. It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered, but it can be made the most useful.”
I spoke to a number of people about this between August 6 and August 10. Most people I spoke with seemed to recognize the difficulty of President Truman’s decision. Most people I spoke with seemed to recognize that whatever decision Truman made, it could have turned out much worse than it did.
Japanese scientists understood the physics of an atomic bomb. Japanese engineers understood the engineering required to build the atomic bomb. They were hindered by a shortage of uranium. The Los Angeles Times reports the widow of a Japanese nuclear scientist as saying, “If we’d built the bomb first, of course we would have used it. I’m glad, in some ways, that our facilities were destroyed.”
What about the alternatives?
We are still here. We are still trying. People who are unhappy about America’s use of the atomic bomb on Japan are obligated to consider the alternatives. Nazi Germany contemplated building an atomic bomb. They had access to uranium mines in conquered Czechoslovakia. Maybe it was a good thing for the world that they drove so many physicists to other countries. Japan contemplated building an atomic bomb. They had scientists and engineers, but not uranium. What if the war in the Pacific dragged on, and the Japanese built a bomb with the uranium from the U-234?
This post is my belated gift for the 243rd birthday of the United States of America. As I pondered on the nation’s history, I discovered some things I didn’t know. I wish to share these things with you. These things have a connection with the teachings of the New Message from God.
Our poets shall be our common referees
My fellow American, poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) wrote the final version of the poem “By Blue Ontario’s Shore” in 1881. The above picture is from that very year. It is a lengthy poem, sweeping over the past fifty years or so. I consider one of the main ideas of this poem to be “America needs poets.” In stanza 9 of 20 stanzas, he writes the following:
Of all races and eras these States with veins full of poetical stuff most need poets, and are to have the greatest, and use them the greatest, Their Presidents shall not be their common referee so much as their poets shall.
It took a while to find our anthem
Our poets shall be our common referees. I recently discovered that “The Star-Spangled Banner” did not become the national anthem of the United States of America until 1931. My fellow American, Francis Scott Key, wrote what was then called “The Defense of Fort M’Henry” in 1814. Francis Scott Key was a lawyer by trade. He is much more well-known for this poem than for any case he argued in any court.
Why did it take so long? There are multiple reasons. One was that the melody was the melody to a song called “To Anacreon in Heaven,” a song about drinking and sex. The end of every verse speaks of the entwining of the myrtle of Venus (the Roman goddess of love) and Bacchus’s vine (Bacchus being the Roman god of wine). Some people considered the melody to have ignoble connotations, and thus unacceptable for a national anthem. But the song eventually fell out of fashion, and the associations faded. Another reason was that it was unclear whether there would be a United States at all during the season of the Civil War of 1861-1865. A third reason was that there were other candidates for a national anthem, such as “My Country ‘Tis of Thee, (written in 1831)” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” (written in 1861), and “America the Beautiful” (written in 1895).
Let this be our motto “In God is our trust”
Our poets shall be our common referees. Many people are unaware that “The Star-Spangled Banner” has four verses. The fourth verse answers the question at the end of the first verse. “O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation, Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n – rescued land Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause is just, And this be our motto–“In God is our trust.” And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I believe that when “The Star-Spangled Banner” became our national anthem, all four verses of Francis Scott Key’s poem became national poetry. And 25 years later, the words “In God We Trust” became America’s official motto in 1956. Francis Scott Key functioned as one of America’s common referees.
Liberty to follow what I know
Our poets shall be our common referees. It was easy to see from the bloody aftermath of the French revolution (1789-1799) that unrestricted liberty had its drawbacks. I consider the greatness of America to be the liberty to follow what I know, the liberty to trust my deepest inclinations. The freedom of religion that America enshrined in its Constitution makes it possible for me to practice the New Message from God.
It took 117 years for the Star-Spangled Banner to become our national anthem. Right now, people are writing anthems for a unified humanity. Who knows, perhaps one of those anthems will be the anthem of Planet Earth in the year 2136.
Many people say that knowing something is the experience of something being self-evident. On the other hand, many people have experiences of things being self-evident, but are unmoved to take action. I consider this to be to be unworthy of the word “knowing.” Chinese philosopher Wang-yang-ming (1472-1529) wrote “There is no knowledge which does not lead to action. If one knows but does not act, then one does not really know.”
What is worthy of my life and fortune?
Say what you will about the signers of the Declaration of Independence. They mutually pledged to the support of the Declaration “their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.” History records that they acted on that pledge, and lived with the consequences. I say that for all his flaws, Thomas Jefferson knew something. Thomas Jefferson knew “All men are created equal.”
Why should it need all the love I can give?
“Climb Ev’ry Mountain” was written in 1959 by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It appeared at the end of the first act of the Broadway musical “The Sound of Music.” The musical is based on the real-life story of Maria von Trapp. The song is sung by the Mother Abbess of a convent, to Maria, who is conflicted between her spiritual aspirations and her feelings for Captain Georg von Trapp. Here are some of the lyrics:
Climb every mountain, Ford every stream, Follow every rainbow, ‘Til you find your dream!
A dream that will need All the love you can give Every day of your life For as long as you live!
I have offered a description of knowing as “an experience of something being self-evident which inspires consistent action.” I have suggested that knowing might be “to hold something to be self-evident, and to contribute to the support of that something one’s life, one’s fortune, and one’s sacred honor.” I now write words I have never written before. I consider that to know something means “to experience something as self-evident, and needing all the love I can give.”
How can such a thing even be? If something is self-evident, how can it possibly need all the love I can give? And yet, I say it was Thomas Jefferson’s experience that even though the idea “All men are created equal” was self-evident to him, it needed all the love he could give. Things that are self-evident to me might be gobbledygook to others.
Someone is reading this and asking “Well, Douglas, by the description you have provided, what do you know?” Do I dare to say I know anything? There might be a couple of things. Autistic people can be contributors to humanity. There is a New Message from God in the world.
The God of a billion, billion, billion races and more
The One God is a collection of revelations received by Marshall Vian Summers. These revelations were received between 2007 and 2015, in a number of different locations (Boulder, Colorado, USA, London, Tehran and Jerusalem). It is Book II, Volume 1 in a much larger body of material called the New Message from God.
What kind of God is Marshall Vian Summers talking about? A God who is the Creator of all life. A God who responded to the choice of separation by creating the universe. A God of a billion billion billion races and more, in enormous variety. A God who delegates management of the universe to the laws of physics and biology, an Angelic Assembly over each of these many races, and a portion of himself in every individual, called Knowledge. A God with a plan to save every individual of every race in the universe.
[What kind of God are we talking about? Has such a God ever been proclaimed before now? I don’t think so. Here and there, now and then, certain aspects of this God have been considered. It’s not just the Prodigal Son who is returning to his patient father, but a prodigal universe returning.]
You have important work to do
Why is this God being proclaimed now? This book does not “wish” to be considered as a book of theology. This book is telling you why you must undertake the effort to reclaim your deeper spiritual intelligence, so that you may be of service to a humanity facing the greatest challenges of its history. This book is providing a context for this in God’s greater work in the universe.
Do you dare to see a greater vision?
I believe just about every reader will find some things they know to be confirmed by this book. I believe just about every reader will find some things they think they know to be challenged by this book. I believe just about every reader will find their mind and heart stretched and enlarged by reading this book.
On the other hand, when this article appeared in the New York Times, it appeared on Page A14, roughly halfway between the front page and the editorial page. Media commentator Glenn Reynolds wrote “What does it say about the news environment that the U.S. government admitted UFOs were real earlier this week, and it was like the fifteenth biggest story?” Which it was.
The US Navy destigmatized UFOs
How do you feel about not being alone? On April 23, 2019, Politico magazine published an article with the headline, “U.S. Navy drafting new guidelines for reporting UFOs.” The May 26 New York Times article described UFO sightings by US Navy pilots in 2014 and 2015. I consider these sightings to have contributed to the new guidelines described in the Politico article.
What do these sightings mean?
How do you feel about not being alone? No one in my world disputed the testimonies of Lt. Ryan Graves and Lt. Danny Accoin. Graves and Accoin are the two Navy fighter pilots who spoke publicly and on the record to the New York Times.
A Navy veteran I spoke with mentioned that at one time, reporting a UFO was hazardous to a pilot’s military career. Furthermore, it was hazardous to a post-military career as a commercial pilot as well. Besides Graves and Accoin, there were three other pilots who only spoke to the New York Times on conditions of anonymity. It takes a great deal of time, effort and resources to take a person from a pilot trainee to a pilot. I surmise that there have been many UFO sightings by many Navy pilots. Enough to make it unprofitable to consider a UFO sighting as a sign of mental instability.
Plenty of people in my world offered opinions regarding the significance of these sightings. One person suggested that some party was developing the capability of projecting illusions to the radar of military aircraft. Another person suggested that the objects sighted by the pilots were advanced military craft. Still another person suggested that it was impossible for these objects to be of extraterrestrial origin, because of the vast distances between stars.
At this point, history helps
How do you feel about not being alone? I know someone is reading this and thinking “Well, what about you, Douglas? What do you think and how do you feel about these things?” Like everyone else in my world, I accept the testimonies of Ryan Graves and Danny Accoin. I believe they saw what they said they saw. I believe they saw objects capable of both hypersonic speed and hovering in one spot. I believe they didn’t see what they said they didn’t see. I believe Danny Accoin didn’t see the object that his radar detected.
The pilots of that squadron considered it unlikely that the US military would introduce advanced craft into a training mission. In recent history, when the US military has obtained a superior weapon, it has used it. The US used an atomic bomb in World War II. The US has used cruise missiles (developed in the 1970s) and drone warfare (developed in the 1990s) in the 21st Century. Therefore, if the US military had a craft that could both travel at hypersonic speeds and hover in one spot, I believe it would use it. The only exception I know of is the hydrogen bomb.
What if it’s…not American?
When other nations have developed superior weapons, they have used them. Germany used the V-2 missile in World War II. Therefore, if the military of another nation on Earth had a craft that do these things, I believe it would use it. If a military force had the capability of projecting illusions to military aircraft, I believe it would use it.
Humans have considered the possibility of intelligent extraterrestrial life for a very long time. It took centuries to confirm the intuition that the sun is a star. It took centuries to confirm the intuition that there were planets orbiting stars other than our sun. Therefore, the fact that human intuition about intelligent extraterrestrial life has not yet been confirmed, carries little weight with me.
I realize this is improbable
How do you feel about not being alone? The New Message from God teaches what is currently a minority viewpoint on the subject of extraterrestrials.
I realize these ideas are considered improbable at this time. But at this point, I’m recalling the words of Sherlock Holmes: “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”
I don’t know when Laura Hershey (1962-2010) wrote this poem. I didn’t know Laura Hershey at all until March of this year. I believe this poem is her song, her anthem, the story of her life. I believe she is someone who did what she wrote about in this poem. I believe she got proud by practicing.
Power comes in many fine forms
Julia Bascom shared this poem by Laura Hershey on the 2019 Disability Day of Mourning. While it was a somber occasion, this poem was an exclamation point of the day’s observances. For me, this poem captures some of the feeling of practicing the great practices of the New Message (inner listening, stillness, looking without judgment, learning how to direct your mind at will, always knowing where your mind is going, objectively questioning your assumptions and beliefs, stepping back from who you think you are or what you think life is.) For me, this poem captures some of the feeling of reaping the benefits of my practice.
You Get Proud by Practicing
If you are not proud For who you are, for what you say, for how you look; If every time you stop To think of yourself, you do not see yourself glowing With golden light; do not, therefore, give up on yourself. You can get proud.
You do not need A better body, a purer spirit, or a Ph.D. To be proud. You do not need A lot of money, a handsome boyfriend, or a nice car. You do not need To be able to walk, or see, or hear, Or use big, complicated words, Or do any of those things that you just can’t do To be proud. A caseworker Cannot make you proud, Or a doctor. You only need more practice. You get proud by practicing.
There are many many ways to get proud. You can try riding a horse, or skiing on one leg, Or playing guitar, And do well or not so well, And be glad you tried Either way. You can show Something you’ve made To someone you respect And be happy with it no matter What they say. You can say What you think, though you know Other people do not think the same way, and you can keep saying it, even if they tell you You are crazy.
You can add your voice All night to the voices Of a hundred and fifty others In a circle Around a jailhouse Where your brothers and sisters are being held For blocking buses with no lifts, Or you can be one of the ones Inside the jailhouse, Knowing of the circle outside. You can speak your love To a friend Without fear. You can find someone who will listen to you Without judging you or doubting you or being Afraid of you And let you hear yourself perhaps For the very first time. These are all ways Of getting proud. None of them Are easy, but all of them Are possible. You can do all of these things, Or just one of them again and again. You get proud By practicing.
Power makes you proud, and power Comes in many fine forms Supple and rich as butterfly wings. It is music when you practice opening your mouth And liking what you hear Because it is the sound of your own True voice.
It is sunlight When you practice seeing Strength and beauty in everyone, Including yourself. It is dance when you practice knowing That what you do And the way you do it Is the right way for you And cannot be called wrong. All these hold More power than weapons or money Or lies. All these practices bring power, and power Makes you proud. You get proud By practicing.
Remember, you weren’t the one Who made you ashamed, But you are the one Who can make you proud. Just practice, Practice until you get proud, and once you are proud, Keep practicing so you won’t forget. You get proud By practicing.
Marshall Vian Summers is doing his part. He is organizing the revelations he has received from 1982 to the present. Many of these are chapters in one of the books of the New Message. Some of these are available online only. Many of these have never been available. Marshall is remedying that. In 2019, 15 different revelations have been made available to the public:
The work is progressing, the people are working. The New Message from God is a large body of material. It is larger than the Pali Canon of Buddhism, the Bible of Christianity, and the Qur’an of Islam. It is a remarkable accomplishment that it is making its way into the languages of the world so quickly. Marshall hasn’t done any of this translation. His associates, known as the Society for the New Message from God, haven’t done any of this translation. Students of the New Message from around the world have done this translation. I wrote about some of these translators in 2014. I believe that when Marshall started to receive revelations in 1982, it was not clear to him that this was something that needed to be translated into the languages of the world.
It used to be impossible, now it’s merely difficult
The work is progressing, the people are working. Hudson Taylor (1832 – 1905), founder of the China Inland Mission, is reported to have said: “I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” I can recall a time when the idea of the New Message from God being published in the languages of the world was impossible to contemplate. Now I can see that we have a great deal of work to do, but it’s work we are happily doing. I may not be around to see when the work is done, but I can clearly see in my mind’s eye the day when that work is done.
In this revelation, living a life of greater purpose is likened to climbing a great mountain. There are many people who relish such an idea. Alas, many of these people fail to consider the preparation necessary for such a life. The necessary preparation is building strength and balance in the areas of relationships, health, career/providership, and spiritual development. You can imagine that this is a great deal of work. Many people want a short cut. There isn’t one.
“It [living a life of greater purpose] is like climbing a great mountain. You start off and you realize it is really steep, and you do not have the right kind of shoes for it, and the things that you are bringing along are not really the things you really need, and you find you do not have the strength to get very far. You do not have the provisions. Your expectations were perhaps too romantic. You thought this was going to be easy.”
I cannot settle for the little mountain
So many people fail for lack of preparation. How do they respond? Many settle for less than their greater purpose in life. Rainer Maria Rilke wrote about this in his poem “The Man Watching:”
What we choose to fight is so tiny! What fights with us is so great. If only we would let ourselves be dominated as things do by some immense storm, we would become strong too, and not need names.
When we win it’s with small things, and the triumph itself makes us small.
The knowing that you avoided the engagement of which you dreamed, is a great disappointment. “Building the Four Pillars of Your Life” teaches,
“Or it proves to be hard, and you really do not have the strength to undertake it. So you settle for something much less in life. You tell yourself, “Oh, well. This relationship will be good enough for me,” or “This job will be good enough for me.” And you compromise yourself, and you give your life to things that really have no promise. You give your life to people who are really not going anywhere. And though you might feel more secure or relieved of the challenge, in your heart there is a great depression, a great misgiving.”
Climbing the great mountain is not a dream
People see how much effort is required. People see how many people fail for lack of preparation. People see how many people settle for less. People see how many of those who settle for less have a great depression, a great misgiving. Therefore, many people think that living a life of greater purpose is a dream, an illusion, a fantasy. “Building the Four Pillars of Your Life” heads that off at the pass as well:
“That is why to give you the promise that you have a greater purpose and a greater meaning in life, the essential elements for building the foundation for this must be provided for you. And the education must be provided for you. Otherwise, the idea of living a life of a greater purpose, greater meaning, is only a dream—beyond your reach, beyond your capabilities.
But it is not a dream. It is the fundamental reality of your life. But it requires a very strong foundation, and this foundation must be sustained through time. This will give you strength and confidence. This will free you from dangerous obsessions. This will prevent you from falling into despair or being pulled away by the obsessions and the addictions of others.”
Therefore, I must prepare
If I attempt to climb the great mountain unprepared, I will fail. If I settle for climbing a little mountain, I might succeed, but the triumph will make me smaller. If I call climbing the great mountain a dream, I will be ignoring the reality of my life. Therefore, I must prepare. I’m reconciled with this taking a great deal of work. I must climb this great mountain.
“You know, when I meet people of different faith traditions, if I have an opportunity to speak with them, I always want to find out what they practice, not what they believe. I don’t care what they believe, really. It’s important in the sense that it determines their behavior and their perception to a large extent. But I really want to know what they practice because that’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s what really matters. It’s what people do, not what they think about doing.”
I practice to be strong and competent
There was something Marshall said during this teaching that started a train of thought in me.
“We practice the great practices [inner listening, stillness, looking without judgment, learning how to direct your mind at will, always knowing where your mind is going, objectively questioning your assumptions and beliefs, stepping back from who you think you are or what you think life is] to develop skills to reemploy the mind to develop new neural pathways of how the mind is going to function: a new way of responding to other people, responding to conflict, responding to beauty, responding to degradation. We’re building skills to be able to be in the world in a new way. And we’re doing this in such a way that we become immortal beings in the world to be of service, rather than being in the world with some vague notion of our own that we have a greater life somewhere, somehow, above and beyond this existence.
Instead of being trapped by the world, we are being fed by Heaven.
So our practice now is skill building. And I want you to really think about that. This is not a reward system where every time you practice you get a reward. Every time you do a trick, you get a cookie. Good boy. [Emphasis mine]
No. We’re practicing to become strong and competent. There’s no emphasis on mastery here. The emphasis is on competence and functionality. In fact, the New Message says there are no masters living in the world. Mastery is beyond anything that can be achieved here. So let’s take that out of the picture. Anyone who claims to be a master or appears to be a master is still a student in the world.”
What if I like a reward system?
In what is known as the “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus used the word “reward” seven times. He instructed his disciples to avoid practicing almsgiving, prayer and fasting in front of other people. There were people who did these things to appear righteous in the eyes of other people. Jesus said that those who did these things have already received their reward in full. He mentioned that those who practiced in secret would be rewarded by the Father who sees what is done in secret. But he didn’t elaborate on what the reward would be.
The Matthew Henry Commentary suggested that the reward would be at the final judgment. But I found that not fully satisfying. I believe Christians would say (among other things) “We practice almsgiving because we would want to treated that way. We practice almsgiving because we are cultivating the Christlike virtue of generosity. We practice almsgiving because we are practicing seeing Christ in the guise of the poor.” They wouldn’t see themselves as doing a trick and getting a cookie. Likewise for the practices of prayer and fasting. I believe Christians would consider these as practices for developing Christlike character. I practice to be strong and competent. So do they.
What do you seek from your practice?
I think what I’m trying to say is this. If there are thoughts within me that associate practice with a reward system, then I need to think it out again. If there are motivations within me that want to do a trick and get a cookie, then I need to grow up a little bit. Someday someone will ask me, “Douglas, why do you do these practices and not those practices?” And I will say “I practice to be strong and competent.”