The Meredith J. Sprunger Archive
God's Presence in Action
Midwest Conference Talk
You recall Jesus' parable of the two sons, the first son when asked to work in the vineyard refused but later thought the better of it and went to work. The older son when asked to work replied, "Yes, father, I'll go," but after his father left did not fulfill his promise. (p. 1993) On another occasion Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,'shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven." (Matt.7:21) The acid test of life is in our actions. The real nature of our faith is seen in our behavior. "True religion must act...Always and ever religion does something; it is dynamic." (p. 1121) "There is no real religion apart from a highly active personality." (p. 1120) "The Weak engage in resolutions, but the strong act." (p. 556)
Action is creative and effective when we are in touch with reality, when God is a partner in our life and work. Jesus orients his universe sons and daughters saying, "Remember: I am the real vine, and you are the living branches. He who lives in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit of the spirit and experience the supreme joy of yielding this spiritual harvest ... Herein is the Father glorified: that the vine has many living branches, and that every branch bears much fruit." (p. 1945) How does this come about; how do we become living branches which bear much nourishing and enriching fruit?
A creative relationship with that which is substantial and real begins when we come to the realization that egocentricity is psychological poison which leads to an unfulfilled and unhappy life and we insightfully and wholeheartedly dedicate ourselves to God and his purposes for our lives. This unique and personal divine plan is then discovered by meditating on the creative urges deep within us—sorting, organizing, and integrating these sincere longings and singular personality gifts. Under the guidance of the spirit they materialize into vital projects and eventually take the form of a life plan. This plan, this sense of calling, gives meaning and purpose to our lives and with it a new source of energy and strength.
The real substance and character of our lives begins when we actualize these creative urges in specific projects of living. We grow and contribute to ourselves and others only when we act. Our early ancestors, Andon and Fonta, longed to transcend the limited potentials of their primate associates but the future of the human race was not assured until they summoned the courage to act, to flee from their animal cousins and face the rigors of a hostile world. With this act of courage came the serendipitous discovery of fire and the actualization of potentials far beyond their imagination. So always is spirit inspired action the ancestor of unexpected discoveries and unforeseen accomplishments. "The act is ours, the consequences God's." (p. 1286)
Such action, however, is never easy. Spirit indited tasks push us to our limits. "The religion of the spirit means effort, struggle, conflict, faith, determination, love, loyalty, and progress." (p. 1729) With experience, discipline, and productivity we ascend the psychic circles of personality growth and with this accrued wisdom our lives become more effective and we grow more real as persons. This service-action life and its resultant growth prepare us for greater projects in the future. But even now there are many avenues of kingdom work challenging us.
We have in the fuller restatement of the life and teachings of Jesus the greatest spiritual message of our planet. Our world needs to hear this inspiring good news, Once again we need evangelists like King Asoka who trained and sent out thousands of missionaries whose devoted labor in twenty-five years won half of the world to a higher expression of spiritual truth. Our world languishes for great music compositions which will transform our spirits and noble literature that will inspire us to better ways of living. The fifth epochal revelation requires new religious fellowships which will spread throughout the world with a fresh, inspiring spiritual symbolism and an advanced ethic of love which will promote understanding, brotherhood and unity among the diverse institutions and peoples of the world. The Urantia movement awaits visionary entrepreneurs and architects who will set aside tracts of land and construct retreat areas, educational facilities, and worship centers. These and thousands of other tasks and projects are vibrant opportunities for actualization by those who are willing to respond to the spiritual renaissance now being ushered in on the wings of the future.
In whatever direction our life plan may take us, it is the fruits of the spirit that undergird our work and make it effective for time and eternity. These fruits of the spirit are "loving service, unselfish devotion, courageous loyalty, sincere fairness, enlightened honesty, undying hope, confident trust, merciful ministry, unfailing goodness, forgiving tolerance, and enduring peace." (p. 2054) These are the marks of God's presence in action whether our work is in the material, mental or spiritual realms of human activity.
As pioneers of the new age our work is of crucial importance. The messengers of the fourth epochal revelation were very ordinary human beings and yet their witness to new spiritual truth turned the world up side down. Jesus told his apostles that as they serve in the Father's kingdom they would also do the work that he was doing and even greater works would they do because he was returning to the Father (John 14:12) and his universe sovereignty and the new gift of the spirit of truth would magnify their effectiveness. Add to this spiritual power base the dynamic of the fifth epochal revelation and the potentials of this spiritual partnership between man and God stagger the imagination. Pioneers in a new age, however, need to have the personality stamina to serve without seeing results. Indeed, the immediate effect of innovative work is usually disapproval and opposition. Nevertheless, as we pursue our work in partnership with God we know that we are making effective contributions to civilization and culture, that we are adding functional realities to our planet and the realm of the Supreme.
Not only is work on the frontiers of progress often frustrating and rigorous, it is unpredictable. Serving in partnership with God requires flexibility. Often our human and personal hopes and purposes which we have planned and cherished for years are shattered on the rocks of evolutionary reality and transmuted into the larger and wiser objectives of spirit determination. Sometimes we are constrained to do things which we would most wish to avoid. Like Moses who lacked public speaking abilities was, nonetheless, required to become a speaker and teacher, so we often find it necessary to engage in activities where our talents are marginal. The important thing is that we are sensitive to the leading of the spirit and have the courage to act in conformity with that guidance. Ours is the responsibility to act; the results are in larger hands. And history demonstrates that God can use very mediocre talent to accomplish great things. "Service—more service, increased service, difficult service, adventurous service, and at last divine and perfect service--is the goal of time and the destination of space." (p. 316) It is through such service that we human beings fulfill our deepest needs and longings, discover happiness, and come closest to greatness.
The presence of God is most effectively experienced in action—service. Our lives find meaning and purpose through action. Seldom have the people of this planet had greater opportunities for significant service which will effect future generations than now. Let us unite in spreading the message of the fifth epochal revelation which promises to precipitate one of our world's "most amazing and enthralling epochs of social readjustment, moral quickening, and spiritual enlightenment." (p. 2082) And I would now ask you, even as I ask myself: "What are you doing to contribute to this new age?"