In New Thought Jesus is seen as the Great Example – not the Great Exception, and this term is often used to distinguish New Thought from Christianity. In fact, affirmative scientific prayer (spiritual mind treatment) is based largely on Jesus’ life and healing miracles. He spoke his word, and it was so. Other variances from Christianity (and other people of the Book) include the definition of Heaven.
For Christians, some Jews and Muslims, heaven is that place “somewhere else” of infinite rewards for tasks completed on earth. In New Thought context, the Kingdom of heaven is within; it is what we create right here and right now as expressions of God on this physical plane. Today I would like to highlight this “kingdom of heaven” statement from New Thought perspective as it applies to giving, which in some New Thought circles, is seen as a “no-no”.
If you’re not familiar with New Thought spirituality, you may be surprised that the Bible can be heard quoted on Sunday mornings just as it is in other churches. With the belief that Jesus was the great example, it makes sense to read and study what his life modeled. On giving, I like to start with the portion in Matthew where Jesus is explaining how humankind is divided into “Sheep & Goats” (I particularly love this term because when my daughter was a toddler, whenever she saw any farm animals in the fields (we lived a rural life when my kids were young), she would gleefully proclaim, SHEEP & GOATS!, which in toddler-speak, sounded more like “sheepungoats”. Back to my point: here’s what Jesus has to say about how we treat each other and the impact it has on “the Kingdom of heaven” (which again, New Thought adherents believe is the here and now):
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
The lesson here is clear; giving to those who are in need is a staple of a spiritual life, and NOT giving is a sure way to live in poverty – of mind, body and Spirit. Remember, Jesus spoke in parable, or metaphor form. If you are living on what you believe to be a spiritual path and you are continually living in “not enough”, look at your giving track record, and look in your heart. This is one of the more clear guidance points Jesus lays out in his short years of teaching.
Another New Thought principle is that we are all One, in Spirit. One. This means that the hungry person is One with us, as is the thirsty, naked, sick and imprisoned one. You might say that as long as there are people who are hungry (or sick, thirsty etc.) and I am not reaching out, part of me will remain hungry, sick, and imprisoned, but when we give back, we are not only feeding the hungry family – we are feeding ourselves, spiritually.
I’ve often been told “I don’t give to need; I pray for people so they can help themselves.”
I’m always glad to hear that people are willing to take time to do spiritual work for others. As I have written in a previous blog, spiritual work is hard work and takes time! However, I would also like to point out that most of us aren’t demonstrating like Jesus did (immediately). So when you are asked to donate food stuffs to feed the hungry and your answer is that you don’t give to need, but teach people how to take care of themselves, I have to ask how long you would like small children to be hungry while you’re “teaching them to take care of themselves”? How many of your own treatments (prayers) remain unrealized, or un-demonstrated, and as you sit there in a warm (or cool) home, with a cupboard of groceries, plenty of clothing, clean water and access to health care, isn’t it convenient to decide that your prayers and treatment are more important to those without, than that which will feed them right here, and right now.
If your treatment (prayer) work is consistently demonstrating in the immediate term, so that as you pray for more opportunities, more abundance, a new house, a new car, a better job or whatever it is; then by all means, get out into the poor communities and teach people how to demonstrate food on their tables and in their cupboards at the time their children are cold and hungry. If you’re not, however, a modern demonstration of speaking your word and seeing it materialize before you, then you might want to re-read verses 41 – 46, especially this portion: “as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
If your life isn’t working, you own that malfunction – we all do! But if your life isn’t working and your heart is loving but your hands and feet are selfish, you are living the eternal punishment because the kingdom of heaven is here, right now.
I’m always humbled by the Centers for Spiritual Living that I see on the internet who are thriving, active, vibrant and energized. They all share something pretty basic: they give back to their communities. They “get it” and they are demonstrating the Truth that Jesus taught in Matthew 25: 31 – 46.
Hungry people (and especially children) can’t wait to find you, take classes and learn how to do treatment before they eat. If we believe we are One, we feed, clothe, house,…and then teach and in doing, we “ are blessed by [the] Father, [and] inherit the kingdom prepared for [us]…” And so it is.
(C) 2015 Practitioner's Path