April 4th, 2010, Cheon Bok Gung, Seoul Korea
Today I would like to speak about “The God of True Love.” Let’s start with the World Scriptures today.
Let’s start with Christianity. This is from the 1. Corinthians 13:6-7: “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.” Aju.
Let’s take a look at Buddhism. This is from Nagarjuna, the Precious Garland 437. He is a second century very famous Indian Buddhist philosopher. “Compassion is a mind that savors only mercy and love for all sentient beings.” Aju.
This is from Islam Today. It’s from the Hadith of Baihaqi: “All human creatures are God’s children, and those dearest to God are those who treat His children kindly.” Aju.
True Parents’ words from “Blessing and the Ideal Family”, Book 1:3:8: “Love cannot be true love if it is only for me. True Love cannot be my individual possession. True Love is for all people and for the whole universe. True Love is what connects the family, society, nation, world and universe.” Aju.
We will start with the core scripture today which is the Gospel of John 8:1-6. Let’s begin by reading that together. “But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They were using this question as a trap in order to have a basis for accusing him.” Aju.
Here we see one of the classic moments of Jesus’ ministry. Although he had a very short three years of ministry, we know this story around the world as one of the great stories of Jesus’ ministry. But many people do not understand the background to this story. Previously, in John 7, we find out that Jesus is attending what is known as the Feast of Tabernacles. That is a feast that commemorates the 40-year wilderness journey from Egypt to the Promised Land that the Israelites had to walk.
Every day during the 40 years they had to set up tents that they would reside in in the desert to withstand sandstorms and all sorts of natural elements, vagabonds and robbers. During the Feast of Tabernacle, up to this day, Jews will come together in a seven-day feast. In that feast every day they will set up temporary tents. Under those tents or tabernacles they will eat and feast in commemoration of their ancestors and in commemoration of the way God led their people out of slavery and to the Promised Land. This in Hebrew is called the Sukkot and it is a very very important celebration. On the eighth day of this celebration is the rest day. After the seven days of feasting and eating under the tabernacles in remembrance of the ancestors, the eighth day is the day of rest. This is where we find Jesus. This is the context in which we find him at the temple at dawn on the eighth day which is a day of rest. You are actually prohibited to teach on this day.
So, Jesus is teaching but the Pharisees bring in a woman. They bring in a woman that they have been holding in order to trap Jesus. They humiliate the woman before the crowd, saying that the Law of Moses commends them to stone such a sinner. They have no care or compassion for her and they do not distinguish between the sin and the sinner. But the interesting thing here is that they are committing sin. Although they use the trope of the Law of Moses, the Law of Moses states that ‘when caught in the act of adultery, both the man and woman will be stoned.’ In order for them to be stoned there has to first be a trial where they can repent before the community. Going against this was not recognizing the Law of Moses. In bringing the woman and accusing her, they did not shine the light on their own sin that they have created before their ancestor Moses.
Without looking inwards and internally towards themselves, they did not realize in their excitement to trap Jesus and accuse him and destroy him and get rid of him, they did not recognize that they were going against the Law, the very Law that they were saying that they were abiding by.
From a principled perspective we know that there are four types of sin. There is the hereditary sin, the collective sin, the individual sin and the original sin. It is important for us, just as the Pharisees, to understand that we have varying degrees of these sins. No matter how much we try, no matter how much effort we put in trying to indemnify these sins, on our own effort, it is not possible. Without sin, if everybody was pure, there would be no need for a Savior and no need for Jesus or the Messiah. But because we have sin in varying degrees, we need the Savior who comes to redeem us from the chains of sin, free us from the shackles of sin, so that we may enter into the new life that He has prepared for us. Aju! Oh, I know you believe it today, everybody.
John 8:6-8. Let’s read together: “But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.” Aju.
It is important to note what Jesus says here and what he does not say. Before Jesus speaks, Jesus writes on the ground and after he speaks, he writes on the ground. We have to remember that this is the eighth day, the day of rest according to the Jewish law. It is unlawful to work on that day and in a very interesting law, it is unlawful to write more than two letters on that day! It is actually a law in the Mishna. But there is the interpretive tradition which is a real collection which in the Jewish tradition is known as the Mishna. According to that interpretive tradition that began in the 200s, we see in Chapter 7:2, in Chapter 12:5 that on the day of rest it is not permitted to write more than two letters anywhere else, but it is permitted to write in the dust. It is permitted, according to the Jewish interpretive tradition.
So here Jesus is doing something very powerful without saying a word. He is teaching the message without saying a single thing. By him writing in the ground on the day of rest, he is saying to them in essence: “I know the Law of Moses quite well and I know the interpretive traditions quite well.” So he is showing that they are performing hypocrisy, that they are claiming to follow the Law of Moses, but they are not following the Law of Moses. He shows that he recognizes that they are going against the Law of Moses, that they only bring the woman and not the man; that they do not have a trial before in order so that she may repent and he may repent; that they did not abide by those laws.
In so doing, he reveals the Pharisees’ hypocrisy. At this instance the Pharisees do not recognize what he is doing and they keep questioning him. They keep on challenging him and judging him. At that point he stands and says to them, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw the first stone.” Here Jesus already knows the outcome because he knows that already he has revealed that they have committed sin before the Law of Moses and by so doing they cannot throw the stone. In fact, the only person that could have thrown a stone was Jesus in that scene. So Jesus again confidently stoops back down and writes again in the earth. He again is returning back to his knowledge, the fact that he understands the Law and the fact that he has revealed them to be not abiding by the Law of Moses.
In essence they are condemned in that situation. They have a choice to either repent or not repent before the Lord. They choose, of course, as we know, to be unrepentant.
Let us take a look at the next scene, in John 8:9-11. Let’s read it together: “At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Now go and leave your life of sin.’” Aju.
Here, by leaving, the Pharisees already admit that they have sinned. They know that they have been revealed. And notice that the older ones leave first. The most advanced, they highest teachers of the Law have to exit first, out of shame. They are totally embarrassed. They know that they have been revealed by Jesus. Then Jesus asks the woman, “Have they all gone? Have they condemned you?” He asked if the hypocrites have gone.
This woman was thrown in front of Jesus but she did something that the Pharisees did not do. She did not deny the fact that she has sinned. She could have made a scene before Jesus. She could have said that she has been falsely accused. She could have said that this was a setup but, she accepted the fact that she was at the mercy of Jesus. And Jesus says to her, “I do not condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”
This is a very important part because here we actually have to look at the text. Jesus actually does not forgive her. Many people look at this text and think “Jesus forgives.” Jesus actually did not forgive her. He didn’t say, “You have no sin; I forgive you.” He says, “I do not condemn you.” That is a big difference.
In a modern day court of law when one is tried for a particular crime and then there is acquittal where it is decided that the person is innocent, then that person is without sin in the court of law. But when the person is guilty and is imprisoned and is pardoned by the President or the Head of State, then it is a different story. They have committed a crime but they are pardoned. That is different from an acquittal. This is the difference that Jesus is showing. It is not an acquittal that Jesus is giving. He is offering the pardon, the grace of God.
When we understand, we see that Jesus doesn’t condemn her. He says, “The sin is the sin.” It may be not even forgivable but, the Lord Jesus gives her the grace and frees her from the punishment and condemnation that the sinner should have received. Many people look at this chapter and say, “Look, Jesus forgave an adulterer, so if I practice adultery, I’ll be forgiven.” I’m sorry. It does not work that way. That is not what Jesus said and is not the case here.
A sin is only forgiven when true repentance and the indemnity conditions are made. For us who are not perfect and who are with sin, that is everybody, at varying degrees. The whole sin that we have accumulated over history, over time, over wars in the battles and in all of history from the Fall, this kind of sin, can never be paid for. But through the seven deaths and resurrections, the Messiah comes. True Parents come. They paid the price, not only like Jesus for individual sin, but the price for our family sin, the clan, society, nation, world, cosmic sin. If we repent and we accept them, we resemble them and we walk with them in the path of truth, the path of true love.
Many people misunderstand the scripture in the Bible that says, in 1.John 4:8 that “God is love.” “God is love, so God cannot hate me. God is love, so He cannot hate. God is love, so He cannot condemn me.” This is what people will say without a strong theological understanding. But this is not true. This is actually the opposite of true. Because God is love, God must hate. “What? How can God of love hate? How is that possible? That makes me angry!” Because God is love, He must hate. He must hate sin, because sin has no part to do with love. God is good, so He must hate evil. He has no part to do in evil. God is faithful, so He must hate adultery because He has no place in adultery. God is truthful, so He must hate falseness.
When we understand in this chapter, Jesus, in essence, shows us that God forgives the sinner. The sin is not the thing, but grace is given to the sinner which is actually all of us. Notice that to the woman Jesus says, “Go, and sin no more.” He knows and acknowledges that she has sin and that that is displeasing to God. Adultery is displeasing to God but He offers grace and does not condemn the sinner. In the normal way that we hear it, He hates the sin but is compassionate towards the sinner.
Then he does something further. He calls her to the new life. “Go and sin no more.” He calls us to a life that is free from the shackles of sin. Because of the pardon of grace, she can now move into her life unshackled with sin, and move and become the best person that she can become.
In any democratic society we understand with freedom comes responsibility. Any freedom entails a certain type of responsibility. I remember there is one wonderful quote that says, “There is nothing that can destroy freedom more quickly than the abuse of freedom.
If you abuse freedom you are doing everything to destroy that freedom. Freedom comes with responsibility. Jesus is showing here that it does [take responsibility]; “go now and sin no more”. Your life is that now you have to be responsible for your life. I have pardoned you here, but this is not a ticket to sin again. You see, when we receive forgiveness, it is not that ticket, that free pass to just keep on behaving in a sinful manner, behaving badly towards people, hurting other people, etcetera. God gives us the laws. He gives us prescriptions, not so that He just trains us arbitrarily but He gives us these laws so we can resemble Him; so that we become more like Him. God is faithful so He commands us not to practice adultery which is unfaithfulness. This is not like God. He calls us to be faithful. God is good, so He commands us to do good and not evil so we become more like Him.
This is the new path that Jesus calls this woman to; the good life, the true life. When we have people who have repented of sin and have come and received God and True Parents forgiveness, we as the followers of God and True Parents must also learn to forgive our brothers and sisters. When people go against what True Parents have taught us, of course that is sin; we know that. But if they repent with a truthful heart and they are forgiven by True Parents, then as the faithful we must of course not condone the sin, but we must also forgive the sinner. For all of us, including myself, all of us have sinned. Everybody accumulates [sin] in varying degrees every single day that we live and not one of us is totally righteous to stand before the pureness and perfection of God. This is what the grace of True Parents gives us; it gives us the opportunity to stand before the throne of God, even though we do not deserve to be in that position. That is what grace is all about.
I met some families that feel like big failures. Every Tuesday we meet families morning to night and many families are very sad because they, for example, have children who married outside and went against True Parents teaching. For years those families have been condemned and the parents blame themselves; “I am terrible we should have raised them better, etcetera; I hope they come back”. We have to remember, of course, there are some of these children who have gotten married outside of the church that are unrepentant; “I have nothing to repent about. I don’t need True Parents forgiveness”. There are these kinds of individuals, but there are also people who come back and have repented and participated in the forgiveness ceremony by the grace given by True Parents. They have received the forgiveness of True Parents and have received the blessing of True Parents. They have received the blessing. When True Parents and God forgive such people and, brothers and sisters, we as the flock of True Parents also have the responsibility to do the same; to invite them back into our community. Also the parents who have received the forgiveness of True Parents must come back, not continue to blame themselves over and over but understand they have been given the grace to start into the new life. Of course we are inadequate, nobody is perfect, but God and True Parents forgave us. That is how great grace is. Let’s give it up for Grace, let’s give it up for incredible Grace, Amazing Grace like we heard in the song, Amazing Grace. See, when somebody sins before God and denies it and continues to do so then this is the attitude that the Archangel Lucifer had; continue to sin before God, continue to be blatantly opposed to God and unrepentant. Then of course God does not forgive such [people] or the Archangel or an individual. With that kind of unrepentant posture, neither God nor True Parents can, even if they want to, forgive that person.
I know an individual, a blessed child, who married outside and continues to the bitter end to be very unrepentant. “I am not going to apologize, I live my life, I will not seek repentance or forgiveness”. I know this person; this person is very dear to my heart. I tell him please, with that kind of attitude, nobody will forgive. Even if God wanted to forgive, we have to know that we are not perfect. If we are deluded and think we are perfect that is totally not true, everybody has something to repent about. In that case when we seek True Parents forgiveness, they will forgive. But to the bitter end – staunch to the very end, I will not seek repentance. If that posture was so great then that person would be so happy. But I love that person and that person is miserable; every time the mention of Unification Church comes up. Every time their parents call, every time etcetera, etcetera. It is weeping, weeping; “why don’t they forgive me, why don’t they forgive me”. It is because of this attitude we cannot receive that kind of forgiveness.
I have many people say, many people, even some of our ministers in Korea say, “you know we should just forgive everything. Why don’t we just forgive everything? Haven’t True Parents forgiven, why don’t we just forgive everything? Why don’t we just embrace everyone; that is what we should be doing”. That feels great, but we have to understand that we are looking with our spiritual eyes. When we are looking with our physical eyes that is fine; we can forgive somebody on a personal level and get along with them great, invite them to coffee and all kinds of things like that. But if we truly love that person and truly look at their eternal life and we know that that person is unrepentant of their sin then we know that they will not be forgiven of that sin. So if we are truly compassionate, the easy way is of course to say I forgive you and let’s just be fine. But the more compassionate way is to lead them to the person who can forgive them of their sin which is only God and True Parents.
The ministers in the church don’t have the authority to free people from sin. I, as the International President don’t have the authority to free people from sin. Only the Messiah has the power, the spiritual authority to free us from sin and the condemnation that we should receive. So the truly compassionate action would be to lead them to realize that they are not perfect; everybody can do that action because it is true and see that through repentance we can find a new life. We can let go of the chains of sin. See that this is the call of Jesus; this is the call of the Messiah, the True Parents. This is the heart of True Parents. To go out to the world that is full of sin and to redeem that world; to allow them to escape the shackles of sin and to be free. That is how the heart, the very nature of why the Messiah comes.
If human beings had no sin there would be no need for a savior. But we have the original, and the collective and hereditary and individual sin. And if we give repentance, if we can admit that we aren’t perfect, we can be offered Grace into a new life. A life where we can reach the potential that we were supposed to reach from the beginning when we were created. In essence, we are called to become like Christ and True Parents; to resemble the True Parents heart. The heart that will die and die and die and die through the seven deaths and go and go and go to the lowest hells for the sake of the salvation of the children of the world. This is the heart that we need in order to truly create the culture of forgiveness in our church.
Many people want the culture of forgiveness. We should have a greater culture of forgiveness; we should have a greater culture of Grace. But truly only until we actually live and actualize the heart of True Parents will we ever know the greatness of Grace, will we ever know what we have received in the eternal realm.
You see, the true way to create the culture of forgiveness is by witnessing; by saving the souls of others. When we witness many just look at it with physical eyes. We are trying to grow in membership; we are just trying to expand the church. This is just physical eyes. This is not the purpose of witnessing. The purpose of witnessing is a spiritual practice. It is a practice to open our spiritual eyes and heart so that when we see the person to who we are witnessing, we view their eternal soul and wish to save that person. That is the heart of True Parents. That is what True Parents do when they seek the person and try to save the world. This is the true witnessing heart, the practice and actualization of the greatest love. It is even greater than service, because in service we are attending to people’s physical needs; attending the person’s physical needs. But when we witness, when we testify, when we seek to save, although we cannot personally save that person, it is to lead them to the person that can. Let’s give it up for True Parents everybody. Before we all fall asleep.
See, when we do this as a community, we understand. Ah, what kind of amazing grace I have received. Just like the woman who stood before Jesus 2000 years ago. Who really truly realized the power of Grace? That, although she was a sinner in committing adultery and she should have been stoned and that the Lord did not condemn her, freed her from her punishment and led her into a new life. When we do this we understand that we are called to live the blessed life. The life that is full of grace and miracles and incredible love that we can feel from God and True Parents. That call us to be in their words, small messiahs; national messiahs, tribal messiahs, small messiahs.
What is a messiah? A messiah one who seeks to save the world, save souls. When we go out with that type of love to help and love and save this world from sin, to lead them to the only person who can redeem them from that sin, then we open our spiritual eyes. We see all; we see that all need the Savior and we participate in the freedom, participate in the eternal life that is bestowed upon those that can see the Lord. Let’s give it up for God and True Parents everybody.
I want to end with True Father’s words. Let’s read all together True Parent’s words: Sermons of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, Vol. 49, p. 52) “Love can go beyond all things. It can go beyond the law. Going beyond the law means the freedom to face death, to freely face death often. Even if there is a barrier that has stood for millions of years, a barrier that no one has been able to go beyond, the thing that can safely move aside that barrier is love. We sacrifice everything for love; we invest everything and from that place we can go beyond any barrier.” Aju.
True Father Prayer:
“Glory be unto the Holy True Father, King of Kings, Liberator of God’s heart, Returning Christ, and perfected inheritor of God’s True Love! We bow before your sacrifice for us! For our trespasses you suffered and died, descending into Hell seven times to indemnify our sin from the individual to the cosmic level. We bow down before you in utmost gratitude and give you all the glory! Aju!”
True Mother Prayer:
“Glory be unto the Holy True Mother, Perfected Eve, and mover of the Holy Spirit! Blessed is your sacred womb from which we are born again of the Holy Spirit. Pray for us, your children, and permit us to come closer to our Holy True Father, and God now and when we ascend to the spirit world, Aju!”