Eric Butterworth Speaks: Essays on Abundant Living #14
Delivered by Eric Butterworth on May 13, 1975
It might seem perfectly natural, in any short outline of a teaching such as this, to launch into a “Credo” of beliefs and definitions. However, it is important to recognize at the outset that to define a thing is to limit it. Certain it is that you do not become a mathematician by memorizing all the answers in the back of the book, nor do you become spiritual by memorizing a lot of definitions or by building a vocabulary of methaphysical terminology. This new insight into Truth is not a creed to accept, but a technique through which you can find answers for yourself in words that are meaningful to you.
There was once a belief that religion began with a full knowledge of one true God and that thereafter through human fault and disobedience, the light of that first splendid vision was clouded or lost. But this is not the story of assembled records. The story of religion is not a recessional. The worship of sticks and stones is not religion fallen into the dark; it is religion rising out of the dark. Primitive superstitions were man’s first suppliant gesture toward the unseen. Man is and always has been innately a spiritual being with an insatiable hunger for Truth. Regardless of where or what the religious expressions may have been through all the ages, the confidence that there is a power to help has lit the fires on every altar, built every temple, made every creed articulate, and supported every prayer.
Through the ages it is obvious that man’s concept of God has changed and evolved. Much of our confusion from the study of the Bible comes from the fact that the God of the Israelites was a stern, autocratic, and sometimes cruel God, a God of vengeance who destroyed whole cities with their inhabitants. The God of Jesus was a tender and loving God of forgiveness. Unfortunately, much of modern Christianity has held onto the God of the Old Testament, forsaking the God concept of Jesus. In all fairness it might be said that this is simply the tendency to define and visualize. Perhaps we can all identify with the little child who was crying in the dark in her room. Mama came in to comfort her and said, ”You needn’t be afraid for God is right here with you all the time.” “I know,” sobbed the child, “but I want someone with skin on.”
It would seem that those who have insisted on a type of worship that has God centered in places, in things, and in certain people, have missed one of the most revealing teachings of the entire Bible—Paul’s immortal sermon on Mars Hill:
“...the God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth does not live in shrines made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all men life and breath and everything... Yet He is not far from each one of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being.”
We need to contemplate Jesus’s words, “God is Spirit”. He is the principle of life and intelligence, everywhere present at all times, and just as accessible as the principles of mathematics. Do the principles of math give special attention to the blackboard that is gaily adorned and marked with fine figures? No, they work for all alike, impersonally. Neither does God care for forms and ceremonies. These things may have an influence on the individual in helping him to feel a sense of communion, and to that extent no one should say that they are wrong. But we must remember that they have absolutely no influence on God.
What is God? Here we are faced with a definition which can only limit the limitless. We could say that God is Mind, Life and Substance, but whatever we agree God is, God is you. This may seem shocking to you, but we did not say that you are God. We said God is you. Ice is water, all ice is water, but not all water is ice. Whatever your life is, it is God. The Life in you is God life, the wisdom in you is God intelligence, and the love in you is God love.
You are a child of God, an expression of God, so there can be nothing of you that is not innately God. You are created as a perfect idea in God-mind, and your purpose in life is to outpicture this idea in expression. And there is no better way to worship God that to rightly express Him.
Jesus did not come to take the place of God, but rather to show men how they might find God for themselves and within themselves, even as He had found God within Himself. There are whole libraries of books written about the mystical events surrounding Jesus’ birth and life, about the prophetic hope that foretold His coming, about His miracles and teachings, and about the movement that has come into being in His name. But there is great confusion surrounding the relationship between Jesus and the Christ, which is the weakest link in the chain of Christian theology.
Fundamental in traditional Christianity is the belief that Jesus fulfilled the great hope for all mankind for all time, and that man must believe in Jesus to be saved. I believe that this great hope was not fulfilled in Jesus but was revealed through Jesus, and that the true hope of mankind is the Christ Spirit within the heart of every man, which Jesus in His illumined consciousness revealed. Paul writes, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Certainly, Jesus is the Saviour, the Wayshower, the Supreme revealer of the Truth to man. But we miss the whole idea when we insist on worshipping Jesus, instead of following Him in the discovery of the Father within and the expression of the Christ of each of us.
A key to understanding the teachings of Jesus is the discovery that Jesus did not place the emphasis on Himself, but upon you, your unfoldment, your believing, and your achievement. Jesus never claimed anything in the name of Jesus. Indeed He said, “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.” And yet He said, speaking from the Christ consciousness, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall He do also, and greater works than these shall he do.” He explains this in John 12:44: “He that believeth on me, believeth not on me but on Him that sent me.” This is the keynote of Christianity.
While tradition focuses its attention on Jesus, Jesus focused His attention on you: “You must do as I have done”, “Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect”, “I am the light of the world...you are the light of the world, let your light shine.”
If Jesus is held up to us as very God Himself, rather than the most perfect manifestation of God, if we preach that His purity is inimitable, that His unity with God cannot be repeated, then it all becomes unimportant and inconsequential—for what hope is there for you and me today? But if we feel that the same God to whom we pray was Jesus’ God, if we feel that He intended all humanity to realize a perfect union with God—then life becomes a thrilling and hopeful experience and Christianity becomes a tremendous practical guide to finding the Abundant Life.
Religion has always tended toward retrospect. Jesus tried to translate the old into the new, to put religion into the present tense. He talked of Salvation now, and that the “kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Isn’t it strange that Christianity has fallen right back into the same pattern of retrospect? Our new insight tries to do just what Jesus did—to put spiritual truths into the present tense.
We are often criticized for making religion too easy. “You take away the ritual, the creeds, the symbolism, the sacraments, the priesthood as intermediary and what do you have?” To this I say, “Nothing. Nothing but meditation and the study and application of the Truth.” As for making this too easy, I say just the contrary. This is probably the most difficult religious discipline in the world, because you are face to face with God and yourself. There is no one to blame and nothing to hide behind. In the new insight, you realize that your life experience is the result of your keeping of the law, and that God can do no more for you than He can do through you. The responsibility is on you to discipline your thinking.
© 1975, by Eric Butterworth