Part 3 of the Journey to Fullness series.
Recorded live from the retreat held on June 27, 2015.
Be like a Child
The last song was so good and appropriate for our talk. Give myself away so God can use us. I wonder whether that is the ultimate purpose of our spiritual journey. This afternoon I had time alone with Nolan. Grace and Josh were going into the discussion. So, I took a Nolan by myself while you are having a discussion. I was just sitting there, very, very nice weather, a breeze and the kind of sound of laughing in the background from group discussions and people talking. I was sitting there and then at first, I felt a little lonely. I’m by myself while they are having a great time of discussion and all that. So, I felt a little uncomfortable in the beginning and then saw myself, why do I feel lonely? I started getting into the inner journey in a way for myself. And then I looked at Nolan and he was sleeping for about an hour and a half. And then I looked at him, almost 30 minutes, just looked at him and reflected, looked at him and reflected, and the best thing to look at for meditation and reflection and how peaceful, that boy is, just sleeping baby, peaceful, no pretension, nothing to worry about, nothing to show off, nothing to prove himself. He was just sleeping. And it occurred to me, a spiritual journey is to be like children.
That’s what Jesus just said. If you are not like a child, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God. But as we grow up, you know, we come up with all kinds of distorted images about ourselves. That’s not the image that is created for me, that is an image that we have adopted for myself to protect ourselves, to guard yourself, to conquer others, to be better than others. So, we created very many distorted images of ourselves. Maybe our spiritual journey is to take off one by one of those false images or distorted images that we have put upon ourselves for our own survival. So that spiritual journey is to go back to be like a child. And what as an adult, as an adult, that very difficult for Nolan is easy. He doesn’t have to worry about making an income, he doesn’t have to worry about feeding our family. Doesn’t have to worry about people attacking him at all, that you know he’s furious, safe, so it’s easy for him. But for an adult, he will be very, very difficult job to do so. But the goal is there. The direction is there. To be a great person is not to be great in the eyes of the world. To be a great person is to be like a child. Simple, very simple. Appreciating what you have. Always be thankful for what you have.
I wonder that is our spiritual journey. Whether our spiritual journey is very pure, pure person, just like a child being pure without calculating, without manipulating, without showing off, just being pure as you are, that it’s as simple as that, but that is the most difficult thing to do. This identity is a very, very strange thing. We are struggling with our identity. Who are you? Really? Who am I? Is it the inner person who I really am, or the outer person I present? Who am I in the real sense? When Jesus just started the ministry, that was the first thing that he just had to overcome. It is an amazing revelation when Gospel writer wrote about Jesus’ life. The first thing Jesus had to deal with was his identity, nothing else, and when I discovered that, wow, this identity thing is a very serious matter. They’re very confused with our own identity in many ways. We don’t know who we are. That’s why we are struggling so much in our lives.
So, when you look at the Gospel, this is how it begins. It begins with Jesus Baptism. Jesus, when Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him, John would have prevented him saying, I need to be baptized by you and do you come to me, but Jesus answered him. Let it be so now for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness. Then he consented and when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were open to him and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove and a light on him and a voice from heaven said, listen, this is my son, the beloved with whom I am well pleased. That is the conclusion of the baptism of Jesus. The conclusion was about Jesus’ identity. Who are you? You are my beloved Son. That was what was revealed at the Baptist. Nothing else. Jesus’ identity was established at the baptism and that was the first thing God did in the Ministry of Jesus Christ.
Finding our Identity
That’s how Gospel writers saw, but right after that there’s a temptation story, but listen to temptations story very carefully. This temptation story is about Jesus’ identity. It was nothing like temptation you’re thinking of. This temptation story is about Jesus’ identity. Let us look at it. Then Jesus was led up by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights and afterward he was famished. The tempter came and said to him if you are the Son of God if you are the Son of way, he’s already the Son of God. Baptism already said, Jesus is the Son of God, and Satan is coming to Jesus and say, if you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread, but he answered, it is written. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple and saying to him, if you are the Son of God again, if you are the Son of God, throw yourself down for it is written. He will command his angels concerning you and, on their hands, they will bear you up so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him again, it is written to not put the Lord your God to the test. Then again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, and he said to him, all these I’ll give to you if you will fall and worship me. Jesus said to him, away with you, Satan, for it is written, worship the Lord your God and serve only him. Then the devil left him and suddenly angels came and waited on him. Temptation was about Jesus’ identity. Jesus is the Son of God and he was already revealed that he was the Son of God, but Satan kept asking, Jesus, prove your identity. Proof your identity by doing all these fantastic things. Wow. That’s a revelation. That tells us a lot. God gave us the identity. The world asks us to prove your identity. Who said those were the criteria by which Jesus becomes the Son of God. It is what Satan made, it is the will Satan made up. It is not what God wants from Jesus that was what Satan made up because that is what all human beings all fallen human beings. These are what the world wants, and these are what human beings want, so you do all those things that I’m telling you to do.
Then prove that you are the Son of God. Jesus never fell into that temptation. Jesus at the inset, worship God and serve him only. I’m not going to worship anything that you say, I’m going to worship only God. Nothing else. Ninety percent, 99 percent fall into that temptation to prove their identity. When was Jesus’ identity finally revealed right in the beginning when God said at the baptism, you are my beloved Son, and then right at the end, at the cross, Jesus’ identity was revealed where at the cross. Let us read that part. Now when the centurions and those with him who were keeping watch over Jesus saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, Truly this man was God’s son, century the gentile. At the end. In the beginning, God said, Jesus, Son of God, in the end, recognized the Roman, the Gentile, the world, recognize that Jesus was God’s son. Jesus was God’s son and he never tried to prove that he was God’s son. His identity was revealed by Jesus being faithful to the cross, not by proving it. That shallow. Jesus was the not trying to prove his who he was. He was just faithful to who he was to the cross.
That’s why Jesus said, you want to follow me, take up your cross and follow me. If you don’t take up the cross and you cannot fall on me, you try to prove yourself and you try or want to follow me. You can follow me by trying, trying to prove yourself. You want to prove to you, are you? Do you want to follow me? Take up the cross. Be Faithful to who you are. This tells me a lot about how I’m supposed to live. Jesus was not influenced by what the world falsely expected of Jesus and from Jesus. That is a strong man. Jesus is a strong man. He was not falsely influenced by what the world expected of him or for him. He was himself. The world tells you, be this. Then I will tell you, you are the son of God. Teach us to no to that she just was just himself and a whole story in the Gospel is all about people accusing. Jesus ended disappointed with Jesus because Jesus did not meet the expectation of what they wanted and the ultimately because of that Jesus died on the cross. We are not that strong. They are easily influenced by what the world wants. Either by having it one, not having it and being envious of it. We can easily follow the false expectations of the world.
How the World Measures You
They look good because the world says it’s good. Because the world made that it is good. But they didn’t look as good, but it’s not good in a real way, but we say that is good because the world says it is good. We are blinded, falsely blinded, thinking that that is good. Instead of truly finding who we are, we are trying to define ourselves with what the world wants from us. My friends don’t define yourself by what the world measures, measures you with. From there, all kinds of problems begin. If you try to follow what world, what the world expects from you, you start creating false selves and they use to stop being like a child, you’d become somebody else you do not become who you are. We create fearful self-create itself and narcissistic self. I’m going to reflect on these three things. Fear, greed, narcissism. These three things are what many people, most people fall into it. We’ll set the wrong purpose, wrong direction, and you will get two wrong destinies. Fearful because we cannot meet the false expectations of the world. Greedy because you’re lured by the glory of the glory. This world to fall asleep promises narcissistic by trying to achieve what the world admires. They don’t want to be like Gandhi. They want to be like Gandhi as a result, but they don’t want to be Gandhi in the process. They don’t want to be Martin Luther King. They want to be Martin Luther King at the end. They don’t want to be Martin Luther King risking their lives. By just following the wrong expectations of the world we become strange people. Become strange people.
The other day a person told me about his friend. I think this describes so well the attitudes of many people. His friend was a cancer survivor of 10 years. He had cancer 10 years ago and uh, he got treatment and then after 10 years it didn’t recur. So, he was happy, and he realized how precious life is. Do you know what his conclusion was? Life is so precious I’ll not think about anybody else. Now I’m going to think about just myself because this is so precious. I don’t want to waste my life worrying about or bothering with other people. I’m going to do what I want. I’m going to live as I want. I’m going to live fully what I want to live. Wrong direction, wrong purpose. Jesus said you want to save your life. You lose it. You Lose Your Life for the Gospel Sake. Put Truth, you will find it. It will save it. Many people live like that. You know, my life is precious. One Life I have. Why do I have to bother with all the people? I’m going to just live for myself and my family if they’re okay, I’m fine. Whatever happens in the world does not my business? What if whatever it happens to other people, that’s not my business. Okay? I’ll help as much as I can, you know, just to relieve my conscience or guilt or whatever thought beyond that problem, my problems, me and my family. Why bother with other people?
Two Ways to Live
You want to save your false self, you’ll lose your real self. And those who gave up their false self for Jesus’ sake will find true self. In Greek life. There are two words for life, Zoë, and Psuche. You can say. Zoe is kind of meaningful existence. Psuche is bare survival. Are you going to live for survival? Or are you going to live for meaningful existence? I think we should live a meaningful existence. I don’t want to live Psuche alone. Psuche. Good. But I want to live Zoë. Jesus said I came to give you life. Life abundant. And that is the way. That’s what Jesus Christ came to give our journey is to have abundant Zoë. Okay, great. So, can you stand up a little bit? I think some people are falling asleep.
I talked about fear, greed, and narcissism, and the first thing that we need to cultivate in our spiritual journey is trust. Trust is the best way to overcome fear. When the Israelites were freed from Egypt and they took the journey to the promised land, and the first place they encounter was wilderness and, in the wilderness, they trained for. They were trained for trust. Do you trust me or not, God wanted to ask the Israelites, are you going to follow me by trusting me or are you going to not follow me? So, trust was the biggest thing, in the beginning, to be trained with. They had to deal with the uncertainty of the future. When we don’t know about the future or tomorrow, that creates fear within us. When things are going okay, it’s okay. You don’t think about the future when things are going okay. What do you say to yourself? Oh, tomorrow will be the same. Tomorrow will be the same when everything’s going, alright. You don’t even think about tomorrow. Tomorrow is exactly. It will be the same as today, so you don’t worry about tomorrow. Predictable. Tomorrow is though hidden to us. Our life is like that. Whether we like it or not, people who go through difficulties, they realize that suddenly tomorrow may not be the same as today. Next year may not be the same as this year. When everything’s going okay, you automatically assume that tomorrow with the same, but when things happen to you, suddenly tomorrow becomes uncertain. You’re not quite sure about what might happen tomorrow, so whether you accepted or not, whether you accept that tomorrow’s hidden or not. Tomorrow is hidden. It’s the nature of life.
People who came to the Bible study in South Carolina, would they have known what would happen to them the day before, like Tuesday evening? Tomorrow was hidden to them. Would they be able to protect themselves if they did anything better? No. Since we don’t know about tomorrow, the fear is built within us. It is a built in. Fear is part of us. There’s nobody put lifts without fear. Everybody lifts with fear because fear is built in within us because tomorrow is hidden. We cannot get rid of fear because it is very much part of who we are. We don’t need, but we don’t need to let the fear paralyze us. Even though we cannot get rid of fear, we don’t have to let fear control you, delaminate you and paralyze you. Let’s say because of what happened in South Carolina. If you don’t go to the Bible study or because of what happened in Boston, if you stop, if you stop running marathons or because of what happened in Virginia Tech, if you don’t go to school, you’re letting the fear trap you.
Yes, life is precarious, and our tomorrow is uncertain and hidden, but instead of letting the fear control you and trap you, you need to face and overcome it by trust, by building trust in you. When you do a spiritual journey intentionally, you will realize this thing, this wonderful thing. You realize that there is a mysterious power bigger than you that is controlling and guiding your life. You realize you realize behind all you do, there is always, there has been always this power that has helped you, guide you to come to this point as you do this spiritual journey intentionally. If you realize that power, you’re in connection with that power, you’re connected with that power. You sense it, you feel it. You recognize the hand of God who has guided you and lead you. In our spiritual journey, we recognize that we are not walking alone. God is always walking with.
How Our Lives are Shaped
We realize if we do not shape our lives, but our life is shaped by the good will of God and slowly you become free from fear and worries. Can you say to yourself, okay, from tomorrow I’m not going to fear? Can you say that? Okay, from tomorrow I decided my friends, I decided not to worry. Can you do that? You know, I mean, from tomorrow maybe you can say, I’m not going to smoke or from tomorrow I’m not going to eat the what is that bacon or whatever, those things. At least you can see that. But from tomorrow, I’m not going to worry tomorrow, from tomorrow, I’m not going to fear you can’t do that. But somehow as you do the spiritual journey intentionally, you don’t have to fear worries, disappear somehow in your life. Jesus said to not worry about tomorrow and that became the reality in your life. That’s a result of a spiritual journey. Wow. From when I started from, when did I start worrying about my life? If the road is blocked, then you say, cool.
If there is no way, then you say, then you make the way. If there is an obstacle, then go over it. When the time comes, the door will be open. When the time comes, the road will appear for you. If you need it, God will give it to you. If you don’t need it, God will take it away. There is a time to live and there is time to die. There is time to have a good time and time to rough time, time to laugh, and time to cry. When there’s a storm, soon there’ll be sunshine in all our certain circumstances. We simply trust that God will guide us, God who began a good work will bring to completion in his time, not in my time. Why do you worry, as the song says, give yourself away? Give yourself away. Why worry. Just simply trust in God. God will take care of you, won’t he, as he has taken care of you all this time, as God has given you all the good things all this time, won’t God take care of you and guide you and lead you. Spiritual journey. It’s a mysterious journey.
You don’t control it. You don’t dictate it. You live it in God’s hands. The song says, my life is not mine. It belongs to God. Keep it away so that God can use you. It is a journey to experience the wonderful opening for you, wonderful planning and then when I wasn’t looking at northern, you have wonderful future and that wonderful future will be open for you and that is a message not just for Nolan, for all of you, and also for me. Wonderful Future. It will be open for all of us. Trust in God. At times you may feel lost at times. You don’t see any future. Your future is bleak. Sometimes you feel hopeless under darkness really covers you and you don’t see any good future that is coming to you but waits, we’re trusting God. That’s what Israelites had to do.
Even the very basic simple stuff, they had to trust God. Do you worry about food? You don’t worry about food. Too much food we worry about. Too much food we worry about. But these guys in the wilderness they must worry about food every day and they are not to store it either. The Next Day, will God give us the food or not? And then the food came, so they hit thankfully, but they could not store it for themselves and the next day they must wait. Is God going to give me the food or not? That’s how they lived, and then at the end, they got tired of it. They got tired of trusting God. I want food whether I trust God or not, I want food in my storage. So, they created a golden calf instead of trusting God, they wanted to take care of their own future. Don’t make that same mistake in your life. Learn and disciplining yourself to learn to trust in God in all circumstances, especially when a crisis comes, a good opportunity to train yourself to trust in God. Last time when Grace and Will came for Nolan baptism, we had lunch together in a Chinese restaurant and then will set this you know, getting married to Grace and then having business in Boston and all these things. I realized that there is a bigger hand, that is, has been helping me because I’m probably, I’m a minister. His father in law is a minister. So, he said no, but he said that. I don’t know where to go during lunch. So. Oh, that’s very nice, you know.
Nice. And then, I mean, right now everything is going all right. So, he could say that, but I hope that he can say that even when things are bad because that’s a spiritual journey when everything’s going on, right? It’s easy to say here, but when difficulties, difficult things come, can I say that that’s a spiritual journey? If you can say that even when difficult things come to you, then you are doing the spiritual journey. And I hope that all of you do the spiritual journey. There’s a beautiful passage in Isaiah. I want to read it for you, but now thus says the Lord. He who created you or o Jacob, he who formed you. O Israel. Do not fear for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name your mind. When you pass through the waters, I’ll be with you and through the rivers. They shall not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, and the flames shall not consume you. How beautiful, how beautiful. That is the truth. This is what Isaiah experienced. I hope that this is also true for all of you. Meditate on it.
Building an Image
I’ll give you another passage. From the new testament is a Paul statement. Then we are afflicted in every way but not crushed. Perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken. Struck down, but not destroyed. This is one of my favourite passages in the whole Bible. How strong, how strong he was, afflicted and perplexed, persecuted, but he will be able to stand through it. Another passage from Jesus. I have said this to you so that in me you may have peace in the world. You face persecution but take courage. I have conquered the world.
Don’t live your life in fear. Live with trust, don’t build fearful self, and then do all kinds of stupid things to overcome your fear, don’t do that. You are creating a false image. You’re creating a distorted image and that distorted and false image will vanish in the end. In our journey the second obstacle we will face is greed. You must understand how greed operates. The nature of greed is insatiable. That is what greed is. It is insatiable. You can never satisfy your greed. Of course, we want good things in life. That is human nature and it is good, but when you’re obsessed with it, you become a slave of greed and if you follow greed, your life will be ruined. Especially in this consumer-oriented society. We are surrounded by advertising pitches that we need something more, something better, something different. We don’t need them. We want them, even the pants I am wearing right now is a boss. I just wanted to show off what I’m wearing. Nobody said anything, so somebody gave it to me. So, I think it was a cheap one and I didn’t wear it for about two years. And then one day. Wow, it is a boss. I must start wearing, that’s why it’s a little bit longer.
See this consumer-oriented society just makes us very dissatisfied. Always complain. Our journey cannot be a junior of greed. That’s a stupid journey. The journey of greed that was not the journey of Jesus Christ. She just, she just said, I came not to be served, but to serve. He came not to receive, but to give. Life of giving generally is much, much happier life than the life of receiving my friends. Always find the opportunity to give rather than the opportunity to receive. Being greedy is the opposite of the journey of giving. What we need to cultivate within us is a spirit of contentment first, spirit of contentment. We must learn to accept our situations and not complain about it. Complainer’s please know that you are having a problem.
You don’t have a legitimate reason to complete. You have a problem. Problem is not out there. Problem is you so complainer, so listens very carefully. Okay? You’re identifying with that kicking, each other. Hitting each other. Complaining is a very, very bad in our spiritual journey. Learn to be content. If you constantly compare yourself with others, you’ll never be happy. There are always people smarter than you, prettier than you whether you believe it or not. I’m going to talk about narcissism at the end, but and more powerful than you and more successful than you. You don’t need to stick out to be important. You don’t need to be the best of the best to be precious. Your identity is not determined by the performance in this world. The remedy of the problem of greed is to learn to be content. Real appreciation of what we have. Just walk around and look at the flowers and how beautiful the air, how nice, the people around you, how wonderful you are. Why don’t you say that? Teacher? Huh? How wonderful you are, so yeah, how wonderful you are. Oh, nice.
The world will be a better place. Instead of continuously complaining about each other, we appreciate each other. This is what Saint Paul said. I’ve learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little and I know what it is to have plenty in all sort of consensus. I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. Doesn’t matter the circumstances I have learned the secret of being content. He’s the one who this future journey. When you do the spiritual journey, then you start having this thankfulness, gratefulness. Thankfulness is part of this future journey. Contentment. The spirit of contentment is a necessary tool to have for the meaningful spiritual journey. Then we can focus on giving and always don’t focus on receiving in your life. Always focus on giving. Find the opportunity to your talents, your resources, your intelligence. If you’re really, really, beautiful, you’re attractive, whatever, and your personality, think about using it for other people. Think about using it in giving. Your life will come alive. The third thing you need to overcome is this narcissism. The world is getting worse and worse with this narcissism cosmetic surgery in this world is just a going really, bad.
Cast Away the Outer, Cultivate the Inner
I’m reading this book for the seminar to understand a little bit better about narcissism. That title is the narcissism epidemic, living in the age of entitlement by Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell. They said in their book, people who are born after the 70s, raise your hand. Oh, woman, you don’t want to say that, okay, it not what I said, this is what the book says. The people who are born after 70, they’re affected by this cultural shift of self-focus and the trends accelerate it in those born in the eighties and the nineties, so seventies, eighties, nineties. Be careful about narcissism. Parenting became more indulgent. Celebrity worship grew, and reality show TV show became a showcase of narcissistic people and very unhealthy narcissism is very unhealthy. Unhealthy to yourself and to other people. The Internet allows people to have the possibility of instant fame and then look at me mentality. Narcissism magnified the false self to the extreme. That’s what narcissism is. We examined Jesus’ temptation in the beginning and the narcissism is the exact result of falling into all those temptations. It is the exact opposite of Jesus’ teaching, an extreme form of self-centeredness. Even the religion became a tool for their self-glory. I’ve seen some religious people, very narcissistic instead of, I mean they are. They are saying that there are so religious, but they don’t really care about others. They care about their own being religious. That’s why being spiritual and being religious are two different things cannot the same thing. You shouldn’t be confused with those two. You can be quite self-centred while being religious like the Pharisee in Jesus’ time. People look for religious experiences, religious high in St John of the Cross, the mystic, says that is spiritual lust.
The more focused you are, the more bankrupt it will become spiritually. That is not the journey to fullness. That is a journey to emptiness. By creating a more false self, we cannot find ourselves. Rather we’d lose ourselves. We lose joy, meaningfulness, and purpose. I said, the journey has purpose, direction, and destiny, and our purpose cannot be myself. Our purpose cannot be about me. Then the destiny will be nothing. If you see yourself, you lose it, but if you lose you or yourself for the truth, you’ll find it. That is the truth. Listen to the truth. If you’re obsessed, obsessed with your salvation, you lose your salvation, but if you don’t think about salvation but live a life of trusting, giving generously, and serving and giveaway yourself. Then you’ll find yourself
In the end, as the end, I will say what Dalai Lama said. This is what he says. I believe the purpose of all the major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside in our hearts. In your life do you build a huge temple on the outside or do you build a true temple in your heart, the temple of goodness and compassion inside you? That is a journey to fullness. Let us not forget who we are. Why are we here? And where are we going? These three questions always ask, who are we? Why are we here? And where are we going?