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The Light of the Christ Within

Inspired Talks by Reverend John Laurence
by Reverend John Laurence, edited by Elana Joan Cara

Share Your Love, Your Smiles,and Your Blessings
Heritage House Presbyterian Chapel, San Francisco, CA
June 27, 1982

Good morning, dear friends. Today I’d like to read from Psalm 130. We
all know that these beautiful lyric poems called the Psalms are ascribed
to King David. From the fires of his devotional approach to God, and
in his deep understanding of the mercies of the Heavenly Father, David
gave us these inspired and most encouraging utterances. In Psalm 130,
verse 1, David sings, “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.”

How many times have you cried out to the Lord from the depths of
your soul? The only way you can really get your prayers off the ground is
to invest them with deep feeling, and not a superficial and pale sentiment.
Otherwise, you are just parroting words you’ve learned from someone
else. When you begin to invest the words of your heart with a sense of
urgency and conviction, and when you really come into attunement
with the presence and power of the omniscient and all-pervading Lord
of the universe, then you are really cooking. “Lord, hear my voice: let
thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.” (Ps. 130:2.)

David was a wise man, and he wanted to teach us how important
it is to incline the inner ear of knowledge and understanding to
the supplications we send out. Sometimes we thoughtlessly make
supplications and prayers for this, that, or the other thing, and our
prayers never quite get off the ground. Often we pray for things without
the spiritual wisdom and discrimination necessary to manage what
comes about when our prayers are answered. And very often we implore
God for things that are not important to the ultimate development of
the inner self. Saint Teresa of Avila, the great mystic who lived some four
hundred years ago in Spain, said that more tears are shed over answered
prayers, simply because we know so little what is best for us.

With the limitations of our nature, we often fly in the face of both
knowledge and wisdom, craving and pleading for things that perhaps are
not really good for us, things that we aren’t ready to handle. It is always
good to pray for spiritual attunement and advancement, and we should
always ask for the healing presence of the Christ Spirit. It is right to ask
for all good things, for as Jesus said, “It is your Father’s good pleasure to
give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32.) You don’t have to die, you know, in
order to get to the kingdom. Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven—
that sacred spark of the Infinite—is already within you. It takes some of
us a long time to see that.

Our wonderful teacher David says, “Hear my voice: let thine ears be
attentive to the voice of my supplications.” Now, not only is it important
to pray for ourselves, but it is very good to pray for one another. The
essence of the Christian teachings, and those of Master Jesus himself,
is that we spend a good deal of time praying for other people. Now,
that doesn’t mean we may invade their lives and spiritually “push” for
anything. It means that when people ask help of us—or when we know
they are ill and we want to help—we send a little prayer that they might
receive the energy and healing that is good for them.

Don’t be afraid that if you pray for too many people, you’ll be left
out in the corridor somewhere and won’t get a full blessing yourself. The
divine essence is mercy, love, and brotherhood; and it is augmented and
extended as we pray for one another. Therefore, every time you pray for
other people, you are also helping yourself. Prayer for others is an act of
Christian charity and love that we leave with the Heavenly Father, in
full trust that He knows what is right for each one of us. If someone is
ill, the Father already knows his need. Jesus clearly emphasized that it is
God’s wish to give us the fulfillment of all good things, because that is
what the kingdom of heaven is all about. We must remember that; and
realize that it is only when we go within and become very quiet that we
are apt to hear the still small voice, the inner voice of God, telling us
what is good and right for us. Those inner promptings and whispers are
the intuitional insights God gives us when we need them most.

“Let my voice be heard by Thee, oh Lord. If the Lord should mark
iniquities, then who shall stand?” (Ps. 130:2-3.) What does that mean? It
means that sometimes everybody, in one way or another, falls short of
the mark. Well, this man David had a lot of wisdom, and here he is
saying, “Don’t judge anybody.” That’s what this excerpt means, in just
three words: don’t judge anyone. I think that is very important.
Down through the centuries, the word “sin” has taken on a very
detrimental definition, and it has made people feel awful about
themselves. What the word literally means is to “miss the mark”—like
an archer does when he draws back the bow, shoots toward the bullseye,
and misses. That’s where we got our word “sin.” Too often there is
an over-emphasis on sin. We all know how imperfect we are, and we
don’t need to be reminded of it three times a day. We need to be told
that divinity is already present within the temple of our being; and that
the purpose of this life is not to count our sins, and the sins of others,
for that is the work of the Lord. We have to realize, dear friends, that
everyone on this planet needs the merciful blessing of the omnipotent
One, because we have all made mistakes. When we see other people who
have made errors, we must not sit in a high seat of judgment and say,
“Well, you know, she’s a big sinner!”

You can go to some fundamentalist churches today and watch preachers
splinter the pulpits to bits, shouting at everybody in the room that they
are wretched sinners who are going to roast in hell for eternity. That is
not love. That is not God. Nor is it Christ. That is not what religion
is all about. Such condemnation is an enormous misunderstanding of
the infinitely compassionate and merciful Lord. God’s forgiveness is so
much bigger than any of our failings. Of course, that doesn’t mean we
should tempt fate. It means we must never become despondent because
of the sins we may have committed in the past.

Some people, when they get religious, become despondent. They
think they’re great sinners who are going to be lost, or at least get into
big trouble when they leave the body and head for the pearly gates.
Well, God is much more merciful than we imagine, and we should give
Him more credit than that. “If Thou should mark iniquities, O Lord,
who shall stand?” The simple answer to this inquiry is “nobody,” because
we are all sinners. Very few of us have succeeded in always meeting our
highest potentials. So let us accentuate our best and most noble selves
by sending prayerful, healing thoughts to others who may be ill, and by
giving out a loving vibration to everybody we meet, whether we actually
speak to them or not. In this way, we truly show ourselves to be children
of God and heirs of the kingdom. Being merciful and loving is to live in
a true state of Christ consciousness.

We must know that there is forgiveness with God. “But there is
forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” (Ps. 130:4.) Now, when
you think of fearing God, does that mean you run around frightened
and trembling, hiding under the table? Of course not. “Fear of God”
doesn’t mean that negative kind of fear. It means having such a reverence
toward the Divinity that reigns within the temple of the human heart,
that we would not intentionally do anything that would cause Him to
leave our presence.

And so, if we mark the presence of God as a spiritual discipline every
day, we will quickly discover that every day becomes considerably brighter
and more beautiful. Each day becomes more fruitful and blessed, with
a sense of good will, love, and joy. We can contribute to the good of the
whole human family by our friendship with everyone, by our prayerful
good wishes, and by a simple smile. There is a lot in that. You know,
just the consciousness of someone who understands the infinite mercy
and love of God can change one’s whole day. To be near someone who is
filled with that awesome love and wonder of the Eternal can change not
only a whole day, but also a whole life. “Fearing the Lord” means having
such an attitude of reverence and wonder that you could not consciously
do anything that would go against the highest divine law.

David continues, “My soul waits for the Lord more than they that watch
for the morning . . . for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is
plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem [thee from all thy mistakes].”
(Ps. 130:6-8.) These very beautiful and encouraging words were written
thousands of years ago by David: that man of God, that prophet. David
happened to play a stringed instrument of the day, which was something
like a harp; and in the outpourings of his beautiful inspiration, he gave
forth these timeless teachings. So often we find in the Psalms the mercy
of God we are deeply longing for. As we read these psalms (or songs)
again and again, we are encouraged to really believe their message, and
let them become part of us. “I say, more than they that watch for the
morning.” (Ps. 130:6.) See, by watching the new morning, looking for the
new day, we are watching for the growth of our own spiritual nature. We
are watching ourselves mature spiritually. And as we watch for that inner
awareness, we find that we have hope of a better tomorrow; because we
know that He redeems us from all our mistakes. God’s mercy is infinite.

The message I would like to bring to you today is that you must never
make the mistake of becoming depressed or despondent. You must never
think, as some people do, that you are a terrible sinner—convinced that
God is going to punish you for something wrong you did ten years
ago. God has forgiven you. Stop punishing yourself by calling yourself
a sinner; and stop going around in “sackcloth and ashes,” so to speak,
avoiding the joy and love that God wants you to have. Christ said to
change your heart and forgive those who have injured you—and that
means you have to forgive yourself too. You have to stop injuring yourself
for your own foolishness and lack of understanding. Forgive yourself for
your spiritual ignorance. Simply stated, you could not have done the
sinful things you did if you had really known better. We all suffer from
spiritual ignorance from time to time, and we must learn never to get
to the point where we are so bowed down with misinterpretation of
what God and Christ meant, that religion becomes a boring, heavy, and
lugubrious burden.

Religion is joy. It is health, vitality, and gladness. True religion is the
presence of God within, without, and all about. In Latin, the very root
word religio means “to bind back to the first cause.” Well, what is the
first cause? God. God projected this whole universe into being by an act
of His will and His love. In order for us to have any idea of how that was
done, we would have to have a far greater intellectual capacity than our
species presently has. But we don’t have to know how the Infinite created
the cosmos. Humankind is able to perceive only dimly the mystery and
marvel of the extraordinary machinery of this universe: galaxy upon
galaxy. It is inconceivable for us simple little ones here at this level to
comprehend the immensity of the Source and Giver of all life. We are
His children; and God is a merciful and loving parent, considerate of our
needs. So let us rest in that knowledge and truth, and lean confidently
upon the Infinite, who sustains us now and always.

It is such a wondrous and exciting thing to realize that God is
mindful of us. Knowing this, we should never underrate ourselves. We
must always remember that a spark of the spirit of God, which created
all things, resides in the very midst of us. We don’t have to go anywhere
to find it. The only place we need go is within the temple of the self.
So, dear friends, this coming week share your love, your smiles, and
your blessings with everyone you meet. Give of yourself and pray for
others’ health, joy, peace, and well being. If you see somebody walking
down the corridor looking terribly depressed and gloomy, go within
yourself and mentally say, “Lord Christ, you are the author of all
happiness. Bless this person, and bring light into this soul.” That’s a
beautiful way to do a marvelous work of charity. Thoughts are things,
and prayers are real; they are powerful. It is given to us by the teachings
of Jesus the Christ to love one another. Remember what he said: “By
this shall all men [and women] know that you are my disciples”—not by
wearing a robe, or a cross on your chest; not by wearing a magic hat, or
a gown with long-fringed sleeves; but—“that you love one another.” (John
13:35.) Now, that doesn’t mean you have to have a big emotional love
and get all entwined. We can’t be emotionally attracted to every living
being. But we know that every living being has, at the very center of
its existence, a spark of the Infinite; and it is that to which we turn and
address ourselves. Overlook everything else, and send a silent uplifting
and prayerful thought to those who seem a little unhappy or weary on
their path. By sharing your love, your smiles, and your blessings, you are
singing the praises of Him who is Lord of us, and of all the universes.
Thank you. Amen.

See Also: Contents  Intro  

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