Presented at the Australian and New Zealand Urantia Association (ANZURA) Conference, Sydney, October 2015
We’ve done a lot of talking this weekend about the individual’s journey with faith and about developing the character traits required to stay on that pathway that leads us all the way to Paradise and beyond. I’d like to focus on what believers who’ve made the big decision to enter into the kingdom of heaven, do collectively to help an evolutionary world move along the pathway towards the era of Light & Life. I’m going to refer this this pathway as the “Yellow Brick Road”.
Yes, I think you all know where I stole this term from. That famous children’s movie: The Wizard of Oz. The idea to borrow this concept evolved in my mind as I was contemplating the experiences I had in the developing stages of becoming a believer in God. I’ve always thought of those special moments that occurred in my inner life that helped to bring me closer to having a faith in God, were like fine golden threads connecting my inner most core with the source of truth. As more and more fine golden threads emerged they started to wind themselves into a thick golden rope. I started to feel like I had found a golden freeway. Everything that came before was like looking for the on ramp to the freeway; once I found that on ramp and entered the freeway I was on my way!
I know now that this was just an analogy for the development of a solid, rock-like unshakeable faith. This faith gave me the courage to put my foot on the accelerator and start hooning on down the road that was going to take me all the way to Paradise and beyond. Then, thinking about solid, rock like roads and golden freeways made me think of the Yellow Brick Road in the Wizard of Oz that led to the Emerald City. I revisited that movie and was intrigued by the characters and the whole story line; it’s a kind of crude analogy of a spiritual quest. The characters in the story had so many funny little character traits that were so like those of the sincere truth seeker trying to find the answers to the big questions. You have Dorothy, the trusting, innocent, pure hearted child; Straw Man who had no brain, yet was the one who came up with all the good ideas and wise comments; Tin man who had no heart but was the most emotional of them all; and the Lion who had no courage but ended up saving the day through heroic deeds. As they bonded together in fellowship on their journey along the yellow brick road to find all the things missing in their lives, all the traits they thought were missing actually started emerging as they were confronted with difficult situations.
Conviction and Dedication of Will
Before I launch into our collective journey as kingdom believers I want to take a quick look at how we reach that point where we decide to devote ourselves to the service of building the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God.
The journey of gaining faith in God can be wrought with doubt and indecision. As awareness of God dawns and as we grapple with our internal confusion and torment, we may start to feel afraid of where all this may lead. We may have to make some big decisions and change our lives. At this point we could tempted to turn our backs on this path and talk ourselves into thinking we may be deluding ourselves.
“Modern men and women of intelligence evade the religion of Jesus because of their fears of what it will do to them… And all such fears are well founded. The religion of Jesus does, indeed, dominate and transform its believers, demanding that men dedicate their lives to seeking for a knowledge of the will of the Father in heaven and requiring that the energies of living be consecrated to the unselfish service of the brotherhood of man.” [Paper 195:9.6, page 2083.2 emphasis mine]
For those who end up becoming true believers, there inevitably comes a time in our spiritual journey where we reach a significant moment where we make a decision to dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to the doing of the Father’s will, where we say, “It’s my will that your will be done.”
“Such a creature choice is not a surrender of will. It is a consecration of will, an expansion of will, a glorification of will, a perfecting of will… ” [Paper 111:5.5, page 1221.6]
This decision marks your entry into the Kingdom of Heaven – you’ve stepped onto the golden highway that leads all the way to Paradise and beyond. But beware! Look at what Jesus told some of his apostles and disciples during the Decapolis Tour when giving them advice on how to teach truth.
“Believing the gospel will not prevent getting into trouble, but it will insure that you shall be unafraid when trouble does overtake you. If you dare to believe in me and wholeheartedly proceed to follow after me, you shall most certainly by so doing enter upon the sure pathway to trouble. I do not promise to deliver you from the waters of adversity, but I do promise to go with you through all of them.” [Paper 159:3.13, page 1767.1 emphasis mine]
So if ever you feel you are being taunted by someone who likes to argue about religionists having “blind faith”, read this passage again. We need to embark on this journey with our eyes wide open and with very much courage in our hearts. These enlightened spiritual teachings are not for the faint hearted. (I recommend you all read this paper again and again. It’s loaded with Jesus’ teachings – Paper 159, page 1762)
Once you’re certain about your faith you inevitably allow your indwelling adjuster more scope in your heart and mind to lead you along the way. You learn to trust in those inner leadings and you become daring enough to make any adjustments necessary to stay the course.
For serious students of The Urantia Book we can’t help but take note of the many calls to service. Over and over again the teachings of the book reveal to us that service to our fellows is indissolubly linked with spiritual progress. The true mark of spiritual progression is the increasing desire to do good to others. Love for the Father and a sincere desire to do his will inevitably begets love for ones fellow man and a desire to help bring our fellow men and women into the Family of God, or into the Kingdom of Heaven.
“God is not only the determiner of destiny; he is man’s eternal destination. All nonreligious human activities seek to bend the universe to the distorting service of self; the truly religious individual seeks to identify the self with the universe and then to dedicate the activities of this unified self to the service of the universe family of fellow beings, human and superhuman.” [Paper 5:4.3, page 67.1]
“Primitive man made little effort to put his religious convictions into words. His religion was danced out rather than thought out. Modern men have thought out many creeds and created many tests of religious faith. Future religionists must live out their religion, dedicate themselves to the wholehearted service of the brotherhood of man.” [Paper 99:5.9, page 1091.8]
These kinds of teachings inevitably lead us to pose the sincere questions: HOW CAN I HELP? WHAT CAN I DO TO SERVE? Here is the time we can make some momentous decisions about how we’re going to conduct our lives from here on in. Of course, every individual will get different answers to these questions, we all have different “callings” if you like. I’d like to talk about one that is very near and dear to my heart and one that I know is near and dear to many of us here today. And that is how to help spread the teachings – the ideas and concepts – contained in this Fifth Epochal Revelation to our world – the teachings of The Urantia Book – not the teachings about The Urantia Book.
Serving Epochal Revelations
An individual can reach a state of light and life in one short life time, just like Jesus did. But for a planet it’s not so easy. As we know from our study of The Urantia Book it takes us age upon age. And we need lots of help – lots of big help. Hence our glorious unseen friends send us periodic help in the form of Epochal Revelations. And, as we know they are claiming The Urantia Book to be the 5th one that has been given to our world.
We are told:
There have been many events of religious revelation but only five of epochal significance. These were as follows: (they then list 1. The Dalamatian teachings, 2. The Edenic teachings, 3. Melchizedek of Salem, 4. Jesus of Nazareth, then):
5. The Urantia Papers. The papers, of which this is one, constitute the most recent presentation of truth to the mortals of Urantia. [Paper 92:4.9, page 1008.2]
You can’t get it clearer than that. Do we really appreciate just what we have here in The Urantia Book? Do we realise the significance of this claim by the revelators? Good heavens, this is in the same league as The Planetary Prince and his staff of 100, Adam and Eve, Machiventa Melchizedek, and Jesus. This is not a game tiddlywinks. This is serious stuff!
When I first became aware of this claim it was a turning point for me. I had to decide whether I was going to believe this claim or not. If I did, then I knew things would have to change for me. I couldn’t sit on my laurels and do nothing about it. If I decided it was a hoax then I’d have to put the book aside and consider it one of the greatest frauds that ever hit the airways. Obviously I decided it was what it claimed to be and set about to rearrange my life so that I could devote myself to the mission of helping our unseen friends get it established into our society somehow.
They give us so many warnings in the book about the need for new truth on this world. We’ve outgrown the old set of ideas of God and if we don’t get a new one – well, if we’ve read the papers on the modern problems of this world we know what can happen to society when it lacks sound religion that’s commensurate with modern day thinking.
A lasting social system without a morality predicated on spiritual realities can no more be maintained than could the solar system without gravity. [Paper 195:5.9, page 2075.12]
Materialism denies God, secularism simply ignores him… Twentieth-century secularism tends to affirm that man does not need God. But beware! this godless philosophy of human society will lead only to unrest, animosity, unhappiness, war, and world-wide disaster. [Paper 195:8.5, page 2081.5]
Then we get many many pleas and calls that twig our consciences. These calls are coming from the revelators themselves – the representatives of Christ Michael, the Supreme Being and the Paradise Trinity. They are calling out to modern-day devotees of the Urantia teachings to join them by becoming the material link in the chain for this epochal project. Have a look at these:
All Urantia is waiting for the proclamation of the ennobling message of Michael, unencumbered by the accumulated doctrines and dogmas of nineteen centuries of contact with the religions of evolutionary origin. The hour is striking for presenting to Buddhism, to Christianity, to Hinduism, even to the peoples of all faiths, not the gospel about Jesus, but the living, spiritual reality of the gospel of Jesus. [Paper 94:12.7, page 1041.5]
But paganized and socialized Christianity stands in need of new contact with the uncompromised teachings of Jesus; it languishes for lack of a new vision of the Master’s life on earth. A new and fuller revelation of the religion of Jesus is destined to conquer an empire of materialistic secularism and to overthrow a world sway of mechanistic naturalism. Urantia is now quivering on the very brink of one of its most amazing and enthralling epochs of social readjustment, moral quickening, and spiritual enlightenment. [Paper 195:9.2, page 2082.7]
Urantia society can never hope to settle down as in past ages. The social ship has steamed out of the sheltered bays of established tradition and has begun its cruise upon the high seas of evolutionary destiny; and the soul of man, as never before in the world’s history, needs carefully to scrutinize its charts of morality and painstakingly to observe the compass of religious guidance. The paramount mission of religion as a social influence is to stabilize the ideals of mankind during these dangerous times of transition from one phase of civilization to another, from one level of culture to another. [Paper 99:1.3, page 1086.6]
The religious challenge of this age is to those farseeing and forward-looking men and women of spiritual insight who will dare to construct a new and appealing philosophy of living out of the enlarged and exquisitely integrated modern concepts of cosmic truth, universe beauty, and divine goodness. [Paper 2:7.10, page 43.3]
Religion does need new leaders, spiritual men and women who will dare to depend solely on Jesus and his incomparable teachings. If Christianity persists in neglecting its spiritual mission while it continues to busy itself with social and material problems, the spiritual renaissance must await the coming of these new teachers of Jesus’ religion who will be exclusively devoted to the spiritual regeneration of men. And then will these spirit-born souls quickly supply the leadership and inspiration requisite for the social, moral, economic, and political reorganization of the world. [Paper 195:9.4, page 2082.9]
These are wake up calls! Just as I started to feel like I’d found the golden freeway for my own personal spiritual journey, I then started to see the emergence of a “Yellow Brick Road”. This is the road that’s been around on our world since the beginning of life of our planet. It’s the road that past heroes and devotees of previous revelations have walked upon, it’s the same road travelled by Andon and Fonta and the subsequent Andonic race; Van and Amadon and the loyalists who survived the planetary rebellion; Adam and Eve and the Adamic race that flourished and spread in the wake of the downfall of Eden, Melchizedeck and Abraham and all the Salem missionaries who took the teachings of Faith in the one God to all four corners of the world, Jesus and the apostles and disciples who ended up overturning empires and somehow managed to keep enough of a flickering flame of Jesus’ message alive to bring hope to untold millions of believers to this very day.
All the thousands of devoted leaders and followers that emerged through the pages of history, all those heroes of revelation, known and unknown, who have been instrumental in keeping the light of truth alive on our world, they’ve all walked upon this road that is leading Urantia to the era of Light and Life.
How can we who live in these exciting times and have accepted the Urantia revelation as the 5th epochal revelation in this long line of the planet’s religious history; we who have been born again and stepped into the “Kingdom of Heaven”; we who can’t help but hear the call to service from the Urantia teachings, not want to step onto that Yellow Brick Road and join hands together to embark on the greatest journey of this material life time of ours.
In my mind there can be no project on this planet, at this time, that is more important than helping others get the message in this book.
How can we read these passages and not feel drawn or inspired to jump on the band-wagon of helping Michael and our unseen friends who brought us this revelation, and share these new ideas and concepts with our fellow men and women?
Service Ministry for the Urantia Revelation
There are no hard and fast rules about what people should be doing in their service choices when it comes to sharing the teachings of The Urantia Book. We all need to decide that path for ourselves. The Urantia movement and Urantia groups are not a church and we have no hierarchy of priests so no one is going to tell anyone what to do. Most of us don’t want this revelation to turn into “just another religion”. The world has enough of them. Nor do I believe that was the intent of the revelators.
This new revelation is designed to broaden mankind’s framework for thinking about deity and the cosmos, to reveal heightened concepts of religion and God that are in line with modern day thought, to set the record straight about our planet’s history, and to reinstate the teachings of Jesus so we have a better idea of what the 4th epochal revelation was supposed to be about. It’s not here to point the finger at the myriad of religions and schools-of-thought and tell them they’ve got it wrong; that we have the correct answer, rather it is to embellish the truths in the existing religions and add to them – in a nutshell this revelation has the power to establish a new philosophy of living that is presented in The Urantia Book.
The big dilemma for many students of the book who want to serve is to know what they should do. There is a lot of scope for service at both the individual and organisational levels. Here are some suggestions:
- Book distribution. There’s a lot of publicity in the various newsletters about the dissemination efforts of the material book – news about translation and book distribution efforts around the world. These are very tangible projects that require lots of resources both financially and volunteer wise. The history of The Urantia Book and Urantia organisations so far has many inspiring stories about the work of groups and individuals who have established, or are in the process of establishing ways and means to get the book circulating in the various book channels. These projects have been laying the foundations for the revelation.
- Fostering Study of The Urantia Book. There is a lot of emphasis from revelators and Urantia organisations about fostering study of The Urantia Book. Advice was given to the early leaders of the Urantia movement around the time of the printing of the book to form thousands of study groups. One of the Concordant Objects in Urantia Foundation’s Declaration of Trust is to “disseminate the principles, teachings, and doctrines of The Urantia Book”. Urantia Association International’s Mission Statement is to “foster study of The Urantia Book and to disseminate its teachings”.
Why this emphasis on study? Well you don’t really “get” the full impact of these teachings of The Urantia Book with superficial scanty readings. The book is designed to be studied. It’s more like a text book or an encyclopaedia. It’s not a novel; it’s an information source, a handbook for living. It can be a lifelong companion and by studying it in its entirety – by reading it over and over, you get greater breadth and depth of understanding which can lead to greater opportunities for expanding your understanding of spiritual reality.
Reading this book is by no means a “quick fix” or an instant ticket to spiritual enlightenment. Individuals only become enlightened by reading the book to the extent they embrace and internalise the teachings and emanate their spiritual growth through their “fruits of the spirit”.
- Social interaction with other students. It’s my firm belief that in these early years of the revelation, in these years in this day and age when so many people don’t seem to be interested in things to do with God or religion, that current students of the book who take the time to study it in-depth are inadvertently being groomed to become teachers of these teachings. Through constant personal study and frequent socialisation with other students, you gain practice in talking about the teachings. Social interaction with other readers can be like finding a family of people who all speak the same language. You can talk the “jargon” of The Urantia Book with one another and you can learn a lot by engaging and sharing ideas and interpretations. It’s a very benign, safe and sure way to get a good grounding in the teachings of the book.
- Organisation of Study Events. And of course, to make it possible for these study and socialisation opportunities to occur you need to have people who are prepared to organise such events. There are untold opportunities to serve in this way e.g. hosting or attending study groups and conferences. The main goal of this kind of service activity is to assist people in becoming knowledgeable and articulate – and eventually confident – in being able to share the teachings in their everyday lives in whatever manner we feel moved.
- Talking about the teachings in The Urantia Book. The goal of becoming groomed as a bon- a-fide Urantia Book reader, or as an advanced student, or even a “scholar” of the book, apart from the benefit to an individual’s spiritual progression, is so that you can become better at sharing the teachings, ideas and concepts in the book. You don’t even necessarily need to mention the book. Personally I feel this is one of the most important results of being involved in study groups and being involved in the socialisation with other readers. It’s not just about personal development; it can lead to service to the wider community in the ways the revelators are calling us to do. And it isn’t necessarily to tell people about The Urantia Book – in fact in many cases that can be a bad idea. How many of us have tried to tell people about The Urantia Book and have lost friends, or find themselves talking to an unresponsive audience where the eyes glaze over, or you get the “you’re weird” kind of look. It’s very hard to talk about The Urantia Book without sounding crazy. We need to discover techniques for sharing the teachings of this book, and it doesn’t happen overnight. I love this quote:
As the days pass, every true believer becomes more skillful in alluring his fellows into the love of eternal truth. Are you more resourceful in revealing goodness to humanity today than you were yesterday? Are you a better righteousness recommender this year than you were last year? Are you becoming increasingly artistic in your technique of leading hungry souls into the spiritual kingdom? [Paper 156:5.15, page 1740.2]
If you’re going to talk about the book, I’ve found it’s better to talk about what it can do for one’s soul. Better to give people a testimonial of your own experience, or if they press you to know what it’s “about” give them a broad philosophical overview or a dumbed down version of the core concepts and values, a bit like you would when explaining something advanced to a child. You need to find ways to relate to each individual using terms they are familiar with, which means you need to take an interest in them and find out what they think and believe before you attempt to bamboozle them with a whole bunch of weird stories and foreign terminologies. If they keep pressing you for more information “about” the book, I like to encourage them to take a look for themselves – encourage them to have a firsthand experience with it. And it’s very important to be mindful of what Jesus told Ganid about not trying to tell people “about” the kingdom if they’re not yet in there. This quote touches on this point.
When Ganid asked his teacher why he evinced so little interest in this pagan, Jesus answered: “Ganid, the man was not hungry for truth. He was not dissatisfied with himself. He was not ready to ask for help…You cannot reveal God to those who do not seek for him; you cannot lead unwilling souls into the joys of salvation. Man must become hungry for truth as a result of the experiences of living, … If we know God, our real business on earth is so to live as to permit the Father to reveal himself in our lives…[Paper 132:7.2, page 1466.2]
- How outsiders view us. If anyone on the outside of our Urantia movement is critical of the way we like to put a lot of emphasis on study groups, or how we come together at social and study events like we are now; if they think we are self-serving, cultish, or not doing enough to reach out to the world at large and help the millions of suffering and deprived people, my answer to that is that they do not understand what we are attempting to achieve. The whole overarching point of what Urantia organisations are trying to achieve by promoting these kinds of events is to help the world at large. The whole point of this exercise is to grow a group of individuals who can become teachers and leaders of the new revelation; people who can take these teachings to the world in such a way that people can grasp them.
A big part of our study of the book shows us how Jesus went about teaching his gospel and how he taught his apostles to deal with their fellow man. He admonished them against doing all kinds of detrimental things. His technique was to befriend people – to take an interest in them, to find out how they thought and what they believed before he attempted to help them with his saving message. He always adapted his message to a level that the listener could relate to. We would do well to learn from Jesus’ techniques. These quotes illustrate this point:
To “follow Jesus” means to personally share his religious faith and to enter into the spirit of the Master’s life of unselfish service for man. One of the most important things in human living is to find out what Jesus believed, to discover his ideals, and to strive for the achievement of his exalted life purpose. Of all human knowledge, that which is of greatest value is to know the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it. [Paper 196:1.3, page 2094.4]
(While in Rome Jesus selected a group of religious leaders from the Cynics, Stoics, and Mithraics)
And this was his method of instruction: Never once did he attack their errors or even mention the flaws in their teachings. In each case he would select the truth in what they taught and then proceed so to embellish and illuminate this truth in their minds that in a very short time this enhancement of the truth effectively crowded out the associated error; and thus were these Jesus-taught men and women prepared for the subsequent recognition of additional and similar truths in the teachings of the early Christian missionaries. [Paper 132:0.4, page 1455.4]
Even though you are effectively armed to meet the difficult situations of life, you can hardly expect success unless you are equipped with that wisdom of mind and charm of personality which enable you to win the hearty support and co-operation of your fellows. You cannot hope for a large measure of success in either secular or religious work unless you can learn how to persuade your fellows, to prevail with men. You simply must have tact and tolerance. [Paper 160:1.9, page 1774.1]
So like the characters in the Wizard of Oz, we innocently embark upon our journey in search of answers to the big questions and stumble upon the most incredible adventure of our lives. We confront the hurdles and difficulties on our journey and make courageous decisions that are aligned to the will of the heavenly Father; we accumulate golden morontia threads that connect our hearts and minds to the source of all truth; we develop the courage and wisdom needed to keep us on that solid foundation rock of faith that will carry us forever onwards.
And when we band together on this journey in the service of our fellow man, we become a little bit like our fellowship of friends: Dorothy, Straw Man, Tin Man, and Lion who helped each other stay the course and to stay on that Yellow Brick Road.
Faith most willingly carries reason along as far as reason can go and then goes on with wisdom to the full philosophic limit; and then it dares to launch out upon the limitless and never-ending universe journey in the sole company of TRUTH. [Paper 103:9.7, page 1141.5]