Copyright © 1997 by Ralph Couey
except for quoted and cited passages.
except for quoted and cited passages.
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself;
And the King shall say unto them,
"Verily I say unto you,
inasmuch as ye have done it
unto one of the least of these my brethren,
ye have done it unto me.”
The duty of Christ’s disciples throughout history has never been an easy one. The challenges have been many and daunting. Even today, we, as disciples, face tremendous challenges in our efforts to minister to others. But it is the task that we have been assigned. We live in a world that is writhing in agony and pain. And just as a surgeon finds it difficult to perform an operation without a tray of specialized instruments, so does the Lord rely on us as his instruments for the healing of tortured lives. And it is incumbent upon us that we do not back away from that challenge.
I have heard that the simplest commands are often the most difficult to follow. Having been on both the giving and receiving end of orders in the Navy, I can attest to the truth of such a statement. God has given us a wealth of wisdom and instruction in scripture clearly stated without any interpretational confusion. The Ten Commandments are a good example. They’re all plainly stated. And yet, when we analyze the ills of humankind and the attendant misery brought upon all people, we see pretty much the same laundry list of sins and errors at the root of these problems.
1. Worship no other gods
2. Don't worship false gods
3. Don't take the lord's name in vain
4. Keep the sabbath holy
5. Honor your father and mother
6. Don't kill
7. Don't commit adultery
8. Don't steal
9. Don't lie
10. Don't covet what is not yours
And then there is one of the two commandments, which the Lord stated were the most important,
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
It’s easy to love someone you know! Try loving someone you don’t know…or better yet someone you only THINK you know! Those people we find disagreeable confront us all every day. But the Lord makes no distinctions. If you’re a Democrat, he doesn’t say, “Love everyone except Rush Limbaugh.” If you’re a Republican, the Lord doesn’t say, “Love everyone except Keith Olberman.” If you’re a Kansas City Chief’s fan, the Lord doesn’t say, “Love everyone except the Oakland Raiders.”
I think the biggest obstacle that we have in front of us is a basic lack of understanding. There are reasons why we are the way we are. And these differences are most apparent to us in our relationships with the other gender.
Everyone agrees that there are clear physiological differences between men and women. For example, men will immediately understand when I say that compared to us, women have thin skins. And ladies, I KNOW you will understand that compared to you, a man has a thick skull. These are true, factual physiological differences. However you want to interpret them is your business.
There are, however, other differences, which are not so readily identifiable. For years, one of the biggest complaints that women have had about us men is that we don’t talk. Well, there’s a reason. Intensive, detailed behavioral studies have turned up something interesting. A group of researchers discovered that woman use a significantly larger number of words per day than men do. I don’t remember the exact ratio, but it was somewhere on the order of 160%. Men only speak, on average, about 2,400 words per day. That’s not very many. So by the time we get home from work, we’ve pretty much exhausted our supply of words for that day. You ladies, on the other hand, are just getting warmed up.
Why do you think, ladies, that we men love Monday Night Football so much? Because when we’re watching football, we don’t use words. We just make noises!
The other interesting thing that this study turned up is a somewhat surprising clue to our separate natures.
Women use conversation as a form of catharsis, or healing. Men, by our nature, are “fixers.” Our attitude is this: “You have a problem? Give me the facts so I can fix it.” Now this places enormous pressure on us both. When my wife, for example, spends time detailing the problems and frustrations she experiences at work (and just try working for a surgeon sometime) she’s not looking for me to fix it, she wants me to listen so she can experience the catharsis of talking it all out. It took years for me to find out that she didn’t want me to fix anything. In those years of ignorance those conversations were excruciatingly painful, because I thought she wanted me to fix it. I kept looking for the facts, and for men facts are like tools; tools we can use to repair the damage and move on. But all she could give me were “feeling” words. And for men, feeling words are about as useful as tool for fixing things as a power drill with no power.
But once we discovered the real dynamic that was taking place, things changed and our relationship got better. Knowing that I wasn’t required to fix anything took all the pressure off of me. All I had to do was listen. And Cheryl was now free to bend my ear and experience that daily healing without my constant attempts to fix something she didn’t want fixed.
Our relationship grew and conflict went away because we now UNDERSTOOD. Our lack of communication wasn’t a result of any lack of love or respect, and my attempts to “fix” were not the result of any lack of confidence in Cheryl. It’s simply a result of the unavoidable facts of being human.
That understanding also extends itself into behavioral patterns. We all have some characteristic or habit that drives other people nuts. For example, take our shopping patterns. Let’s say we have a husband and wife who both need a white shirt. Now the wife has a lot of options to consider. Long sleeve, short sleeve, no sleeve, tight sleeves, loose sleeves, poofy sleeves, long cuff, medium cuff, no cuff, pointed collar, scalloped collar, no collar, high neck medium neck low neck, scoop neck, 4-button, 5-button, round buttons, square buttons, fabric buttons, embroidered buttons, plastic buttons, colored buttons, sheer, semi-sheer, opaque, cotton, cotton blend, rayon, silk blend, pure silk…and we haven’t even been into the shoe store yet.
What make guys crazy is watching our wives shop for such an item. She might spend 5 or 6 hours, visit a dozen stores, and at the end of the day, go home empty-handed. Men, on the other hand, have a far simpler approach. White shirt, right size, we’re done. Why is it that we are so different? If we don’t understand why, these differences can result in conflict. The husband can get easily bored and frustrated waiting for his wife to make up her mind. A few sarcastic comments escalate into harsh words, and result in a long, silent ride home.
As it turns out, there is a very good reason as to why this happens. Back in the hunter-gatherer days, the main job of everyone was the collection of food, so the clan or tribe could eat the next day. The women would sally forth across the fields in search of edible plants. As they searched, they learned how to identify the subtle clues that indicated a plant or herb that was ready to harvest. As a result, over time they developed a remarkable ability to see colors. They became able to differentiate the subtle hues and tints of color in a plant that would indicate, not only it’s harvestability, but also it’s health. The healthier the plant, the healthier the human.
Women also developed a highly sensitive sense of smell, which is another good indicator of the health of a plant. Since this search often required covering a lot of acres, the task required a great deal of patience and single-mindedness, not settling for anything less than exactly what they sought. In comparison, the man’s task was much less complex: See mammoth, throw spear. Today, hundreds of thousands of years later, the patterns are still there.
Once I understood the dynamic of what was going on, our shopping trips lost their pain. Knowing that my wife was going to shop, I would take a book along. Since I don’t get much time to read, it was a great opportunity to catch up. She knows that with a great book, I will be quiescently happy for hours. We both get something good. I get caught up on my reading, she gets to shop without pressure, and we both enjoy some time together.
The difference, once again, was understanding the dynamic, and also understanding that the things we did were not purposefully intended to cause conflict; they were simply a result of the way we are; the way we’re wired. In a real sense, there’s nothing we can really change about those sometime annoying quirks. But if we understand, they don’t result in conflict. Peace is maintained.
There are other aspects to human nature that, if we understand more about them, it’s easier to not let them become points of conflict between us. We all have to deal with angry people. Sometimes it’s our fault, but other times, that burst of anger we experience is not really directed at us; we just happened to be in the way.
I’m going to tell you a short story that I first heard from that motivational genius Zig Zigler. Now I can’t tell it with the same vigor he did, but I hope you’ll listen anyway, because there’s an important point for you to hear.
"Mr. B one day took a good long look at his business and saw some things he didn’t like. So he had a meeting with his employees. He told them that things had gotten very lax over time, with people coming in late, leaving early, taking long breaks and extended lunches. He said, “I understand that this is in reality a reflection of my leadership. So I’m going to try to lead by example. All I ask is you to follow me in the example I intend to set.”
About a week later, Mr. B was at a lunch with some other business owners and got deep into a discussion about business issues. At some point, he glanced at his watch and realized he was late getting back to the office. He ran out of the restaurant, jumped in his car and began to race back. As luck would have it, he looked in his rearview mirror and saw the flashing lights. The long arm of the law had caught up with Mr. B.
The officer came up to the car door and tried to speak to Mr. B. Mr. B, already in a bad mood, was very short with the officer. Probably because of his attitude, the officer gave him a ticket instead of a warning. As he pulled away, Mr. B was really angry. “Why in the world would he pull me over? I’m no criminal! Why isn’t he out arresting axe murderers instead of honest tax-paying citizens like me?” Oh, he was really steaming.
He stomped back into the office and proceeded to do what managers have done since the dawn of time. When their hand is caught in the cookie jar, they yell “Look Yonder!” He called his Sales Manager into the office. “No more excuses. I want to know right now what the story is on the Landers account.”
The Sales Manager dipped his head and replied, “Well, Mr. B, I don’t really know what happened. We had the account on track, we were ready to close and then something happened and the whole deal fell apart. I really can’t explain it.”
Mr. B said, “Isn’t that something? Look, for 7 years you’ve been my sales manager; I depend on you to keep new clients coming into this business. And now when we have a chance to land our biggest contract, you go and blow it. Let me tell you something; just because you’ve been here this long does not mean you have a lifetime contract! You replace that business, or I replace you!”
Now the sales manager is really steaming. He stalks back to his office muttering to himself. “Isn’t that something? After all I’ve done for this company, all the sacrifices I made and the offers I turned down out of loyalty and this is the thanks I get? Why, if it hadn’t been for me, this company would have gone broke 7 years ago!”
He gets his secretary on the phone: “Drop everything and bring me the Landers file. Right now.”
The secretary replied, “But you just told me that the Miller account had priority.” The sales manager exploded. “I don’t pay you to second guess me. Get me those files now. If you can’t carry out a simple order, I’m sure I can find someone else who can. Just because you’ve been here all these years doesn’t mean you have a lifetime contract!”
Now the secretary is really steaming. “Isn’t that something? All these years of putting up with his guff and covering his behind, now when things go bad he makes it my fault? Why, if it weren’t for me, this company would’ve gone broke 5 years ago. And especially after everything I know about him? Who does he think he is anyway?”
So the secretary goes out to the receptionist and hands here some files. “I need you to work on these right away and I need them back before you leave today.” The receptionist started to tell the secretary that she already had permission to leave early. The secretary spun around and said, “I don’t care what personal problems you have. I need this work done today and if you can’t do it, I’m sure I can find someone more willing to do real work for this company. All you do is sit out here, answer the phone. Just because you’ve been here this long, don’t think you’ve got a lifetime contract!”
Now the receptionist is really angry. She gets the work done and leaves and all the way home she is muttering to herself. “Isn’t that something? All they do is sit back in those offices, gab, drink coffee, surf the Internet and occasionally get some work done. Now when things go bad, they blame me? Why, if it wasn’t for me this company would’ve gone broke 3 years ago!”
The receptionist gets back to her apartment, walks in to find her son wearing his brand new shirt, which is stained and dirty. Well, she launches into him. “How many times have I told you when you go out to play, to change your clothes? I work hard enough as it is to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table and clothes on your back. Now you go to your room right now!
Now the little boy is really steamed. “Isn’t that something? Here I go and clean house, and try to make dinner for us after she misses my teacher’s conference and all she can do is rip my head off? Who does she think she is, anyway?”
So the boy heads for his room and on the way he encounters the family cat. He reaches out with his foot and gives the cat a big ol’ boot and says, “And you probably been up to no good, yourself.”
Do you see that in this story that the cat was the only one who could not have altered the sequence of events?
Wouldn’t it have saved so much time, trouble, and pain if Mr. B had just gone straight from the police officer to the receptionist’s home and kicked that cat?
Now let me ask you, has anybody been kickin’ your cat?
Have you been kickin’ anybody else’s cat lately?
We need to understand that when dealing with people in bad moods that it’s not necessarily us and therefore no reason to take it personally. Somebody just went to their home and has been kickin’ their cat all day long. In fact, it might be helpful if, while that person is chewing on us, we just smile (on the inside, of course) and say to ourselves “cat, cat, cat, cat…”
The whole reason for these stories is for you to realize that the key to loving each other is in understanding each other, knowing that the challenges that we all face have a direct and profound effect on our relationships with each other.
I would guess that one of the questions most often pondered by humans, after “Why am I here?” is the one articulated by a popular ‘60’s song “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”
Some time ago, I was helping my best friend prepare for a CLEP test for college credit. One of the areas he was reviewing was the history of Western Civilization. As I quizzed him on the facts from his note cards, I was struck by the number of wars that had raged across the world throughout history. The Peloponnesian War, The 30 Years War, Crimean War, War of the Roses, The Crusades, Napoleonic Wars, the Boer War, German Wars for Reunification, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, The Gulf War, the war on terrorism.... sorta seems like all we’ve ever done is argue with one another. Kinda like raising teenagers.
A quick scan of history shows this pattern to be present in nearly every culture on every continent dating back to the Neanderthals and the Cro Magnons. China and Japan have a long history of factional warfare; tribal conflicts in Africa have existed for centuries and still contribute to the scrambled political and dire social situations that exist there today; and on this continent the nomadic peoples of the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho still found time in their daily struggle for survival to fight regularly with the Crow and the Pawnee.
The sobering fact of the matter is that for several centuries armed conflict was the first resort of foreign policy. The primary reason was the lack of any capability for national leaders to communicate when relations became critical. It wasn’t until well into the 20th century when full instantaneous and face-to-face communications became possible. Even as late as the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, as President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev teetered on the brink of nuclear war, the two lacked means to communicate by any method other than formal communiqué. History tells us that Kennedy and his advisors argued at length about the intent and meaning behind Khrushchev’s words in those communiqués, and probably the same arguments were present in the Soviet politburo. Because the two did not fully understand each other both countries, and the world, teetered on the brink of nuclear war and global disaster. It is no coincidence that after the crisis was resolved the famous “Hot Line” was installed to provide instantaneous communications between Washington and Moscow.
In the history of human conflict, people on either side of whatever arbitrarily drawn line found hatred in the very appearance of their foes, despite the lessons of history that show governments to be the source of conflict; not the people. Usually, when ordinary peoples meet and get to know one another, the reasons for conflict tend to melt away. My son, Robbie, a Korean linguist and intelligence specialist in the Navy, notes that in Korea people consider themselves to be “one people” regardless of what the politicians may say. And even though humans have shown a tendency towards conflict, we also have a tremendous capacity for peaceful understanding.
At an air show a number of years ago, two aged warriors met face-to-face for the first time. Greg Boyington, otherwise known as “Pappy,” the leader of the famous Black Sheep squadron and an Ace nearly 6 times over met a diminutive, frail old man named Saburo Sakai. Sakai was the leading Japanese fighter ace at the end of World War II, having sent 64 aircraft to their destruction. To those who faced him in those battles over and around the Solomon Islands, he was known as the “Angel of Death.” As the crowd watched, the two men shook hands, embraced, and to all accounts enjoyed a long, warm, and animated conversation. Even with a history of violent conflict in their past, these two were able to find friendship and Peace.
Sometimes the effort to love one another has to be waged through a curtain of pain.
Throughout our history, there are dates which, when spoken, invoke very specific memories and strong emotions. July 4, 1776; November 22, 1963; June 6, 1944; April 19, 1995; September 11, 2001. The last two dates, in particular for us in this generation are especially meaningful. But a date that still carries a powerful impact is December 7, 1941.
On an occasion aboard the Battleship USS MISSOURI, due to a scheduling foul-up, I was witness to a chance meeting between a group of Pearl Harbor Survivors and a group of Japanese war veterans on, of all places, the Surrender Deck, where General MacArthur accepted the surrender of Japan ending World War II. One of the responsibilities that devolved on us crewman who were standing duty was giving tours of the Battleship, which was both warship and memorial. Having spent a good deal of time with the Pearl Harbor survivors, I had been able to appreciate that for many of them, even after all these years, the passions ignited by that Day of Infamy still burned bright. Leading my group of Pearl Harbor Survivors down from the 03 level to the Surrender Deck, I was alarmed to see the Japanese war veterans still there. I was terrified by the prospect of a Pier 6 brawl breaking out between the two aging groups. The Americans came down the ladder from the 03 level and walked across the deck as the Japanese ceased to mill around the displays. The two groups regarded each other silently for several moments. Then one of the Japanese, clearly nervous, walked up to the biggest and toughest-looking American, naturally a Marine. I can’t detail the conversation that took place, since I was too far away. But suffice to say that a handshake gravitated into an embrace and in a matter of moments; the two groups were intermingling and taking photos.
When I could finally pry my group away, we headed down the ladder to the quarterdeck. As we walked, I remarked to the Marine how amazed I was at what I had just seen. The Marine, in a heavy Bronx accent, shrugged and said, “Governments make war. People make peace. We were all soldiers doing our duty. Besides, the war’s over.”
Clearly, when rational people take the time and effort to dig past what they see with their eyes and discover what they can feel with their hearts, No conflict can stand for long.
I was involved in an impromptu discussion at work one day on violence in schools with some of my co-workers. Like everyone else, we expressed our shock and horror at the tragedy of innocent lives lost. As with many disasters, the question “why?” was raised and discussed at length. We talked about the inherent careless cruelty that children inflict on each other, especially those who exist on the edges of student society. We agreed that violence is never a solution to problems, but those of us who remembered being the fat, awkward pimply-faced kid with the thick glasses who lived on those fringes could well understand how the perceived rejections and polarizations of classmates could have a disastrous effect on the already unstable emotions and fragile ego of a maturing teenager.
The subject of gun control came up, but was stopped short by the remark of a friend of mine, who said, “Weapons aren’t the real issue. If you take away the guns, they’ll use sticks; take away the sticks, they’ll use stones; take away the stones, they’ll use their fists and feet. And even if you tie them into chairs, they’ll still yell bad words at each other. Unless you deal with the root cause, the conflict itself, the problem will never go away.”
That statement struck me, because of my own feelings that as a human race we seem to be racing pell-mell towards a world where we look for reasons to hate first, before we look for reasons to love. In John 15, we are told,
“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you;
If you keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love;
even as I have kept my Father’s commandments.
These things have I spoken unto you,
that my joy might remain in you
and that your joy might be full.
This is my commandment:
that ye love one another as I have loved you.”
The secret to our long-term survival as a human species lies in the question of why, as humans, it seems that we look upon those who are different from us personally with suspicion. Even though the scriptures tell us “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” And we remember Jesus’ chilling response to the crowd who wanted to stone the adulterer, “Those of you who are without sin, let him cast the first stone,” a reminder that whatever the sins of others, we must not fail to be humbled by the imperfections of our own lives.
One of the amazing things about being human is the utter lack of duplication. I am fond of telling children, as Santa, that in the whole wide world there is absolutely no one like them. And that makes each one of them extraordinarily special and precious. Children born to the same set of parents and raised in the same household can have entirely different gifts, interests, and personalities. Even twins, born to be almost physically identical, can be starkly different in talents and traits. So, in that sense, we are all different from each other.
But there are other differences between us. There are divisions of gender, race, physical appearance, physical health...and the more intangible differences of philosophy, religion, and politics. When you look at humanity in this light, it’s a wonder we get along at all. So what is it that keeps this diverse group of humanity from beating each other senseless every other day?
I think that first of all, we understand at a very basic level our human connection. That basic understanding allows us the ability to deal with each other’s uniqueness, and even find humor and joy in our originality.
Second of all, we also have the capacity to understand that we are, all of us, prey to particular weaknesses and are therefore must be willing to overlook, or forgive those weaknesses in others.
And thirdly, for those of us who profess a faith in Jesus Christ, we recognize that there is an essential worth and value in each and every one of us and we are willing to accept each other on that basis alone.
As Christians, we can take that understanding a step further. We are in possession of an eternal soul. The soul is with God before our time here on earth, and will be again with God after our time here is over. While we are here in this time, that eternal soul exists within each and every one of us. In our limited understanding, the point at which the physical body ceases to function is what we have come to call death. But in reality, the laughter, the love, the driving curiosity, that which is really us continues to exist. In fact, we are told that “...the resurrection from the dead is a redemption of the soul.” And, “...for, notwithstanding they die, they also shall rise again a spiritual body.” This is extremely important, because if we were to reach out to each other in a spiritual sense rather than a physical one, we could then begin to explore a new understanding of each other.
And Understanding is the enemy of conflict.
It is human nature to fear what we do not understand. And it is that lack of understanding that leads to fear, which leads to anger, which leads to hate, which leads to the “Dark Side” within all of us. In the movie “Dances with Wolves,” the Lakota, having discovered that a white man has returned to the soldier fort, hold a long counsel in order to discuss what import this development may have for this particular band. They do not understand why the soldier has come to the fort. Some in the council even think he may be a god of some kind. In the end, they decide to travel to the fort and confront the unknown. The pounding of hoof beats alerts Lt. John Dunbar, the lone occupant of the fort. The warriors swoop down, capture Dunbar’s horse, and ride away while Dunbar stands by, helplessly outnumbered.
As soon as the stolen horse is taken over the hill, one of the warriors turns back towards the fort. He rides at a full gallop directly towards Dunbar. The warrior pulls up just short, and while his horse jumps from side to side the warrior cries, “I am Wind in His Hair! Do you see that I am not afraid?” In an act of supreme courage, Wind in His Hair confronts the unknown and defiantly states that he will not be intimidated by what he does not understand.
We, even we here need to possess that same courage. We need to ride our allegorical horses straight into the face of that which we do not understand and cry to the world, “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ! Do you see that I am not afraid?” In that spirit of courage and defiance, do we conquer our own worst enemy: Our fear. And once we get past the fear, we gain understanding; we gain friendship; we gain peace.
When we hear the call of the Lord for Peace, we must answer that call for which we were created!
“And if your eye be single to my glory,
your whole bodies shall be filled with light,
and there shall be no darkness in you,
and that body which is filled with light
comprehendeth all things.”
It is so important in our dealings with each other that we convey love in a way that everyone we meet recognizes their worth and value. Also, we cannot limit our outreach to those in whom we imply some form of brokenness. We must expand our outreach to all regardless of their condition or station in life. Regardless of outward appearances, there is everywhere: Need.
Did you know what all rich and famous people have in common? A full-time psychotherapist. Even those who seem to have it all still remain empty inside.
And most importantly, we must all recognize that God loves US and if we accept that value in our own lives we can then recognize that value in others and freely give of our friendship and love. If you can’t love yourself, you cannot truly love others; and if you cannot truly love others, how can you truly love God?
I once witnessed a surgical procedure. This was done on my insistence so that I could understand why there were days she would come home and take my head off at the ankles for no apparent reason. Safely tucked away in a corner, I watched, fascinated as the surgeon and his team did their work. I didn’t experience any queasiness in the experience. 10 years of looking at Navy chow prepares you for all kinds of things. However, I was struck by a revelation of perspective.
You see, once you get past the skin, we all look alike. Organs, bones, muscles, cartilage, veins, arteries, are all identical, whether we were born in Bunceton, Missouri or Berbera, Somalia. So that planted a seed in my mind. And that seed, nurtured by my experiences has blossomed into knowledge, which has altered my perceptions and my attitudes forever.
As we were with God before, as we are within us now, and as we will be when these physical forms cease to function, we are spiritual beings. To quote the Jedi Master Yoda, “Luminous beings are we; not this crude matter.” And the secret to reaching that moment of understanding; that moment of acceptance of each other is in our ability and desire to behold each other on a spiritual level. I firmly believe that God views us in this way. The Hindu greeting, “Namastae,” or “the God in me greets the God in you” expresses this view perfectly. You see, God is completely inclusive; He doesn’t allow the limits of physicalness to get in the way of his communion with us. And we should strive to not allow the perceived differences of the flesh to cloud our spiritual perceptions. To quote another Jedi, “Your eyes can deceive you; don’t trust them.” And if we are ever going to take that next step forward in discipleship, it is a perspective that we must all strive to adopt. Because in the end, it is the soul within all of us that makes us one!
And Brothers and Sisters, our souls are not white!
Our souls are not black!
Our souls are not red, brown or yellow;
Our souls are not tall
Our souls are not short
Our souls are not thin, fat, or sallow;
Our souls are not male
Our souls are not female
Our souls are not gay, straight or bisexual;
Our souls are not smart
Our souls are not dumb
Our souls are not disabled, depressed, or diminished;
Our souls are not democrat
Our souls are not republican
Our souls are not socialist, communist, or libertarian.
Because these things are inventions of the flesh; the very manifestation of that which erects the walls between us God, the Father!
We are all spiritual beings temporarily existing in the flesh. So if we truly desire to be one with each other as God wishes us to be, we must go beyond the evidence of our physical senses. We must breach the walls of suspicion and misunderstanding. Let our love of God and each other be the trumpets of this spiritual Jericho. So when the walls of hate crumble and the dust of suspicion settles and we behold one another, we will seek out the soul that exists within.
When I stretch out my hand, I can touch things 33 inches away. But if I stretch out with my soul, my reach is infinite!
Through this reach, we gain understanding; through understanding we gain friendship; through friendship, we gain peace. This is the spirit that ignites the children of God! The spark that starts the flame; the flame that lights the torch; the torch that lights the way.
And brothers and Sisters, if The Spirit of God IS like a Fire Burning, we must BE the bearers of those torches!
“Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God,
and the days will come that you shall see him;
for he will unveil his face unto you.”
Let us here today go forth into our community.
Let us go forth with a renewed sense of commitment;
Let us go forth with a renewed sense of understanding;
Let us go forth with a renewed sense of hope!
The goal of peace lies within our grasp!
Let us reach together!