|Links||WHAT DO YOU THINK?
by Dr. D.J. Bussell
adaptations by Reverend Grace
Scripture: “BUT SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD, AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS; AND ALL THESE THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU.”
Did you ever think what an important part THOUGHTS play in your life? It was the thoughts of Jesus that made Him so different from other men. It was His thought that made it possible for Him to become the Christ.
What a challenge this idea is to everyone into whose hands this little lesson falls! Since our thought are making us what we are and what we shall be, would it not be well for us to think, or at least to dwell for a while upon, thoughts that have made another good and great?
The thought of Jesus are represented by His words; and, though there may be some errors in translation or transcription, the words of Jesus as we have them form the most perfect and sublime reading matter extant. In Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, found in the Gospel according to Matthew, beginning at the third verse of the fifth chapter and continuing without interruption through the twenty-seventh verse of the seventh chapter, we have a record of the greatest and highest thoughts known to man, twenty-four hundred and seventy-two words of the greatest Teacher of the way of life.
Beginning with Matthew 5:3, we may well consider the following eleven verses to be the basic scripture, or scripture lesson, for the Sermon on the Mount.
“Blessed are the humble, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Bless are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be well satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall have mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men reproach you and persecute you and speak against you every kind of evil, falsely, for my sake. Then be glad and rejoice, for your reward is increased in heaven; for in this very manner they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are indeed the salt of the earth; but if the salt should lose its savor, with what could it be salted? It would not be worth anything but to be thrown outside and to be trodden down by men.”
Then the hearer is admonished, “You are indeed the light of the world; a city that is built upon a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, so that it give light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorigy your Father in heaven.”
The twentieth verse reads: “For I say to you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” As Jesus introduces a new thought with an old word, “righteousness,” this word “righteousness” receive a new connotation and become personalized: your righteousness. This thought is carried throughout the sermon until it reaches the climax in the thirty-third verse of the sixth chapter: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Jesus goes on to refresh the minds of His hearers in their obligation of good citizenship and the Mosaic law, emphasizing the spirit rather than the letter of the law, as He borrows an idea from Hindu teaching in Matthew 5:48, “Therefore become perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
In Verses one to four of the sixth chapter, Jesus starts out with a lesson in humbleness: “Be careful concerning your alms, not to do them in the presence of men, merely that they may see them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven. Therefore when you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, just as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the market places, so that they may be glorified by men. Truly I say to you that they have already received their reward. But when you give alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand is doing. So that your alms may be done secretly, and your Father who sees in secret, shall himself reward you openly. Notice that the word “alms” is interchangeable in meaning with the word “righteousness.”
While in this humble spirit, one is in a frame of mind to go into the attitude of prayer, and in Verses six to fifteen of this sixth chapter Jesus teaches us, in the greatest and most complete prayer ever uttered, that prayer is the attitude of righteousness.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,who like to pray, standing in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you that they have already received their rewards. But as for you, when yu pray, enter into your inner chamber and lock your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret shall himself reward you openly. And when you pray, do not repeat your words like the pagans, for they think that because of much talking they will be heard. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need, before you ask him. Therefore pray in this manner.”
All of this emphasizes the need for the attitude of harmony with the Creative Principle.
In Verses sixteen to eighteen Jesus emphasizes the necessity of the humble attitude toward other activities: “When you fast, do not look sad like the hypocrites; for they disfigure their faces, so that it may appear to men that they are fasting. Truly I say to you, that they have already received their reward. But as for you, when you fast, wash you face and anoint your head, so that it may not appear to men that you are fasting, but to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
In this passage we have a profound lesson in true humbleness of spirit, in contradistinction to the pompous conceit of self-righteousness.
The following six verses read thus: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures buried in the ground, a place where rust and moth destroy and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves a treasure in heaven, where neither rust nor moth destroys and where thieves do not break through and steal. For where your treasure is, there also is your heart. The eye is the lamp of the body; if therefore your eye be bright, you whole body is also lighted. But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be dark. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how much greater will be your darkness. No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and like the other; or he will honor one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (wealth).”
In these verses Jesus teaches the highest ideals of mankind and shows how unimportant are some of our ambitions. This thought is carried on in a slightly different vein, to impress upon us how important we are to God when we develop a little faith. And then comes the very important thirty-third verse, which may be called the “HOW” verse of this sermon: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” All the things for which man has need can be had through a faithful exercise of the attitude of rightness in all things.
As we enter the seventh chapter we are reminded of our responsibility to understand and not to judge those with whom we come in contact, taking into consideration their opportunity for learning these truths:
“Why do you see the splinter which is in your brother's eye, and do not feel the beam which is in your own eye? Or how can you say to yor brother, Let me take out the splinter from your eye, and behold there is a beam in your own eye? Oh hypocrites, first take out the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to get out the splinter from your brother's eye. Do not give holy things to the dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, for they might tread them with their feet, and then turn and rend you.”
Then, having told how to get into the kingdom, Jesus emphasizes, in the seventh and eighth verses, the advantage of being there: “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you. For whoever asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, the door is opened.”
The twelfth verse reads: “Whatever you wish men to do for you, do likewise also for them; for this is the law and the prophets.”
In this verse Jesus sets out the perfect rule of conduct, by the exercise of which all men and nations could live harmoniously together; a way to solve all difficulties of both Church and State; a simple method of dissolving all Faiths into one working unit, all political parties into world helpfulness; a way to regulate capital and dissolve all labor struggles. Possibly the first eighteen words if this verse are the most purposeful utterance ever made in the world. Perhaps the day will come when mankind will realize that these words were not meant entirely for someone else and will adopt their use. (We are all one.)
Then we find how we may enter into the perfect state. Jesus must have thought it of paramount importance to know what to do, for He uses this same though no less than eight times, each time employing a different metaphor but each time acquainting His hearers with another phase of the kingdom of heaven and each time enhancing its desirability.
First, in Matthew 6:19: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasure in the ground, where rust and moth destroys, and where thieves do not break through and steal.”
Second, in Matthew 6:21: “For where your treasure is, there also is your heart.”
Third, in Matthew 6:24: “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and like the other; or he will honor one and despise the other. You can not serve God and mammon.”
Fourth, in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Fifth, in Matthew 7:7&8: “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you. For whoever asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, the door is opened.”
Sixth, in Matthew 7: 13&14: “Enter in through the narrow door, for wide is the door and broad is the road which leads to destruction, and many are those who travel on it. O how narrow is the door and how difficult is the road which leads to life, and few are those who are found on it.”
Seventh, in Matthew 7: 16-18: “You will know them by their fruits. Do they gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles? So every good tree bears good fruit; but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, neither can a bad tree bead good fruit.”
Eighth, in Matthew 7:24: “Therefore whoever hears these words of mine, and does them, he is like a wise man who built his house upon a rock.”
In the seventh chapter, verses twenty-one and twenty-two, Jesus again remind us of a need for sincerity. Here we have lip service exposed for just what it is, a travesty on truth. “Not everyone who merely says to me, My Lord, My Lord, who will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but who does the will of my Father in heaven. A great many will say to me in that day, My Lord, my Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name cast out devils and in your name do many wonders?”
After this we have the perfect summing up in the parable of the man who built his house upon a rock, the crowning climax of all sermons: “Therefore whoever hears these words of mine, and does them, he is like a wise man who built his house upon a rock. And the rain fell and the rivers overflowed and the winds blew and beat upon that house; but it did not fall, because its foundations were laid upon a rock.”
Then come the surprise, when, after this superlative lesson in life, the people, instead of appropriating it to themselves and bending every nerve to live it to the letter, “the crowds were stunned at his teaching.” yet, although “He taught them as one who had power” they showed little interest in accepting this marvelous way of life. In other words, the people were not interested in making Jesus' thoughts their thoughts or His way their way.
While the sermon on the Mount set the pattern for all sermons to follow, the reaction of the congregation of Jesus set a precedent for congregations to follow, and to this day the reaction of congregation is much the same: they do not yet care to thing the thoughts of Jesus or accept the way which Jesus said, “I am.”
But man still become what he thinks; and, though it is the nature of man to seek ways of improvement, still he refuses the simple way of thinking the highest thoughts possible as they pertain to a way of life.
In this brief review of the Sermon on the Mount may you find new hope that you may recapture the will to be one with the Creative Spirit which brought you into being and now maintains you, a Child of God, a Point of Light in the galaxy of the Sons of God. Then may you accept and become one with the great lesson which teaches us to live eternally, to love universally, to ask in the attitude of receiving, to give in the spirit of blessing, to know as we are known and do as we would have others do to us, always living in the spirit of forgiveness. (And realize our oneness with all life.)
These are some of the thoughts that the Lord Jesus Christ, over two thousand years ago, allowed to pass through His own consciousness, showing forth what character of thoughts He found necessary in reaching the Christhood and then in leading His followers step by step along the dim path of perfection. As the thorns and brambles tore at His robe while He made His earthly journey, even so today obstacles and discouragements pull man aside, causing him to lose the trend of Truth. Yes, as the thoughts of Jesus blunted the thorns along His way, making of them harmless pretenders, so we of this day may think the same thoughts as we pass the same way which Jesus trod, and with the same result, overcoming obstacles, bridging difficulties, making paths straight. And as we approach the kingdom of heaven, the narrow gate to the Hold of Holies will swing open, admitting us to the place where God is at the center of our being, where only holy thoughts are permitted to abide.
Note: Dr. Bussell used the King James Translation. But in the late years of his teaching and study of the ancient language of Jesus, he highly recommended the Lamsa Translation as being very creditable and accurate. This is the reason yours truly has chosen this translation.
Love and Light, Reverend Grace
Chirothesian New Light on Ancient Truth