God is Our Freedom

May 2, 2010, Cheon Bok Gung, Yongsan Seoul Korea

Brothers and sisters, today I want to talk to you about “God is Our Freedom.”

Let us start with the World Scriptures.

From Judeo-Christianity, this is Isaiah 53:5.  Let us read together:

He was bruised for our iniquities.  Upon him was the chastisement that made us whole.  And with his stripes, we are healed.  … Aju!

From Islam, this is the Koran 39:53.  Let us read together:

Oh my servants, who have transgressed against their souls, despair not of the mercy of God.  For God forgives all sins.  For He is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.  … Aju!

From Hinduism, this is the Bhagavad-Gita 9:30.  Let us read together:

Though a man be soiled with the sins of a lifetime, let him but love me, in utter devotion…holiness soon shall refashion his nature to peace eternal. … Aju!

And from True Father’s collection of speeches, Volume I, page 162, this is a prayer.  Let us read the prayer together:

Father! Please purify the minds and hearts of all Thy children who kneel before Thee.  Work with Thy purifying touch in the soul of each one here. Please reveal all that is in each of our minds and bodies, Father, and sanctify everything. Since it will not do unless all improper elements are separated out and cast away, O Father, please personally be the Lord who purifies us and the Lord of our hearts.  … Aju!

Today our core scriptures will be centering around Luke 7.  Let us read the first section, starting with verse 36:

36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, 38 she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.  39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.”

… Aju!

This takes place at the house of Simon Pharisee, also known as Simon the Leper.  Now, there are different traditions as to whether or not that is the same person.  Some traditions in Christianity say that they are the same person, that this Simon who invited Jesus to his house for a feast was the same Simon who was healed by Jesus, who recognized Jesus, and who now is supporting Jesus.  Christian legends also say that Simon – after Jesus passed away and ascended to the heavens – eventually moves to Southern France with Lazarus and Mary Magdalene, and at the City of Maguelone, he becomes the first apostle of that southern city in France.

So, the disciples and Christ are now at the house of Simon Pharisee, and this kind of scenario arises.  They are at the house, Jesus is reclining back, and then the woman appears.  The woman pours perfume on his feet, washes his feet, kisses his feet, greets Jesus, cries on his feet.  At the same moment, the person who had invited Jesus, Simon, sees her and thinks in his heart, “That woman is a sinner.  How could Christ, if he truly is a prophet, not know that this woman is a sinner?”

Let us think about the woman’s perspective for a moment.  This woman is a sinner; she is an outcast.  The dominant Pharisees condemn her, see her as defiled, see her as incapable of receiving salvation.  God is a judge who will punish the wicked: punish them in the afterlife, and also, by His judgement, punish them even in this life. God’s people should not forgive this kind of sin, for God’s chosen people are pure and from the lineage of Abraham who received the covenant of God.  God’s people are the people of Israel.  As the chosen people, they have the grace of God, who looks over them and rewards them if they obey His commands, but punishes them if they disobey and stray.   From her perspective, she knows she is a sinner.  All the doors are closed wherever she goes.  She has nowhere to go, nowhere to find refuge.  Everywhere she goes, she finds condemnation and judgement.  She is like a prisoner who cannot escape the chains of sin in her life.

But, she hears of a prophet, one day, who is at a certain house.  She searches and tries to find that house because maybe, just maybe, that prophet can give her forgiveness.  She enters in desperation, falls at the Lord’s feet, and hopes that maybe he will have compassion for her.  Unlike the house of the Pharisees, Jesus forgives her.  For the Pharisees are self-righteous, thinking that they have pureness, pure lineage – they follow the commandments of Moses and abide by the Law – but they are arrogant.  They think they are pure, when even the most righteous person in all of the universe is still a sinner before the throne and perfection of God.

I have the opportunity to work with a variety of people and professionals from many different organizations that we manage, various providential organizations.  We work with Peace Ambassadors, VIP’s and business people at the Chedan.  I work with ministers and priests, and I also work with Blessed Children who fell away in their younger years, but developed their professional life and have returned to help develop the church again.  They have found forgiveness; they have repented before True Parents and have been forgiven.

It is always so disheartening and disappointing when we hear people who criticize the brothers and sisters who have had difficulties in their lives, but who come back in repentance and humility, and even receive the forgiveness of True Parents.  Still, we have many righteous individuals who say, “Those sinners should not be working in the World Headquarters or in those providential organizations.”

But, what is it that makes us truly sanctified?  Personally – I can speak for myself – in my own life, I received the Blessing of True Parents.  I did not date before the Blessing.  I did not have an issue with drinking, smoking, or drugs.  Personally, I followed the laws and commandments that True Parents gave us.  However, I am not arrogant enough to say that I am perfect.  I am not willing to say that I am flawless before the throne of God.  When I look at my own life, I know I have lied in my life.  I remember when I was a young kid, I stole candy from the Brookside Deli, a small store near East Garden.  Yes!  I committed thievery, stole some Now and Later candy, Three Musketeers, whatever it was.  I have also, in my life, been jealous of people.  Envious!  I also have hate and resentment in my heart towards other people.  I wanted some other people to fail.  I am guilty of breaking God’s commandment.  God teaches us not to lie, not to steal, not to bear false witness or not to have hatred towards others.  I have broken those commandments.  Even though I have fulfilled the laws that True Parents have given us, I am still a sinner before the crown of Heaven.  Just because I received the Blessing and never fell does not mean I am not a sinner.

The fact of the matter is that when we look at our lives, any of us, we can know there is no one who can say they are stainless.  Even if you live the perfect life, from the Principle perspective we know that we have individual, collective, and hereditary sin.  Even though we do not have original sin, we can still have all the collective sin of society.  The worst sin is hubris and self-righteousness.  It is the sin that created the Fall.  If you think about the fall, before the actual fall of man, what happened in the inner mind of Satan?  He became arrogant.  He thought he was the purest of the angels, the greatest among them.  He thought he was so great that he could control and judge the children of God.  It was arrogance and self-righteousness that was the cause of the disobedience to God, and the result was the tempting of Adam and Eve.  We must remember that no one is perfect before the perfection of God.

We follow the laws of True Parents, the laws of purity before we enter into marriage, not because we want some reward, not because we want to get a position in the church, not because we want authority in the church.  Those are not reasons why we follow the commandments that True Parents gave to be pure and save ourselves before marriage.  We follow those laws to resemble God.  We try to be pure because we want to resemble God, not because we have selfish desires to get some promotion.  We follow those laws because they are good in and of themselves, not because they have some particular reward.  We follow those laws so that when we marry, we can give our spouse that pure heart and pure love.  That is the greatest gift.  We do not do it for reward and authority and power.   This is not the right way to see True Parents.

Let us now move on to the next portion of Luke chapter 7, verses 40 to 43.  Let us read together:

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.  … Aju!

Recently, True Parents held the Ascension Ceremony in four cities around Korea and in several cities in America.  Last week, we were in Cheongju, about two hours from Seoul.  The ascension funeral ceremony was at two o’clock in the afternoon, so we were able to have lunch with True Parents.  I asked True Parents a very, very important question: “Father, because we are second generation, we have no original sin.  Because we have no original sin, and we have the transfer of lineage, does that mean that we automatically go to the kingdom of heaven?”  Father answered very clearly, “Absolutely not!”

From the Principle perspective, we have not only the original sin to deal with.  Everybody – second generation, third generation, 100th generation – we all have individual sin that we accumulate on a day-to-day basis, from our thoughts, mind, words, actions.  We also accumulate collective sin.  When the society is participating in something immoral, then we, also, will receive collective sin.  There is hereditary sin.  No matter how you look at it, we have sin.  We cannot go around self-righteously judging others in the church who have received forgiveness from True Parents to prove to ourselves that we are purer or better than them.  That is not the way.  This is very basic in religion.

I have many Christian friends, Catholic friends, and Buddhist friends. When Christians and Catholics are growing up, they are taught by their teachers: “You are sinners, you commit sin.”  They are taught that from a very young age.  Buddhists are also taught from a very young age: “In many of your past lives you have been murderers or rapists and have done all sorts of evil. The negative actions you have committed in the past, karma, is a part of you now.”

This is found not only in the monotheistic traditions, I want to add.  Wherever you go, the most basic, fundamental thing that we learn in the faith traditions is that we are imperfect before Heaven.  We have flaws and stains.

However, very interestingly, when I was growing up as a blessed child, and a True Child, we were never told, even once, that we were sinners.  We were never told that, “You are sinners before God”; “You need to repent”; “You need to make God a part of your life personally”; “You need make the decision to come to Him.”  We were never told that.  We learned that we were pure children, children of God with no original sin, blessed children.  And so, we could quickly come to believe that we were very great, without really having accomplished much.  I know this was the case for myself.

I remember when I was in high school; I was quite a fanatic about martial arts.  I loved Bruce Lee!  I had so many posters of Bruce Lee.  Sun Jin-na knows that.  I loved martial arts – I was crazy about martial arts, so crazy! Every day, all I thought about (of course I did not like studying at that time) was martial arts training.  I loved it!  I obeyed True Parents’ commands.  I trained in martial arts, since it is connected to the whole tradition of monasticism and Buddhism from the Shaolin Temple.  Then it was very easy for me to keep a sort of monastic regimen – keep myself pure, no drinking, no smoking, no drugs, no dating, all these things, because the monks do that way.  I love the Chinese martial arts, and all sorts of martial arts.

However, there was one thing.  I abided by all the laws that True Parents gave, but I was so arrogant!  I was such an arrogant high school student, not a nice student.  Because of my martial arts, the kids were scared of me.  Many times, I used to go around and check on them, sometimes threaten them, in a healthy way.  But I was a very arrogant person when I was in high school.  Very arrogant.   I followed all the commandments, but I was so arrogant.

In my arrogance, I believed that, because I followed the laws that True Parents gave, members should respect me.  They should respect me because I followed the law of True Parents.  I did not fall, did not drink or smoke, those types of things, so they must respect me.  That kind of arrogance was real in my mind.  I remember a situation when True Father forgave somebody.  I saw that situation and thought, “How could he do that?  I work so hard to follow the commandments of True Parents, but that person – totally breaking the commandments, and being forgiven by True Parents – what is this?  This is unfair!  Why did he make the commandments in the first place?”  I saw this, but I did not understand it at the time.

But after my own studies in religion, spending time with the religious traditions, training, and then also becoming a parent, I realized that Father was able to differentiate between the sin and the sinner, which I was not able to do. In my self-righteousness and arrogance, I thought that the sinner was the sin and the sin was the sinner. I could not differentiate between them. Because a person had sinned, he was fallen and evil, he was sinful.

I remember one time with my little baby boy. There’s a white wall in True Parents’ house – you’re not allowed to draw with a permanent marker on a white wall in True Parents’ house (laughter) – and my little baby boy was having a fantastic time drawing Nemo and all sorts of fish and things on those walls (laughter). When we saw that little child, would we, as parents, look at him and say, “That evil child! You are an EVIL child. That is EVIL. You are BAD boy, BAD BOY, BAD BOY!”?  The first thing that good parents will do is differentiate between the sin and the sinner. They will not judge the child. They will say, “That action is no good. Baby, baby, that action is no good. Let’s fix that action. Mommy always loves you, Daddy always loves you, but that action is no good.”

What is happening? This is differentiating between the sin and the sinner. This is basic parenting. When you have children, you have to keep this in mind. It is very important. I realized that is what True Parents were able to do. They were able to see what I could not see. I thought that the sin was the sinner, the sinner was the sin. When I became a parent, I realized there is a difference. We don’t have to compromise on our opposition towards sin. We can still hate the sin. But we must be able, as a parent, to forgive the sinner.

And so, if we have received forgiveness from True Parents; if, even though we may have followed all the laws, we are, like me, a sinner before the throne of God, then we have been forgiven and given the grace to approach them through the love and victory, the deaths of True Parents, the path of blood they had to walk to pay for that. And if we have received that forgiveness, then it is also our part, as the community, to extend that type of compassion to our brothers and sisters who have also had troubles in their lives. When new members who have had all sorts of troubles in their lives, come to True Parents in repentance and find forgiveness, it is not our place, like Simon the Pharisee, to judge, when Jesus had forgiven.

Now some may say, “Oh well, I’m going to be forgiven anyway, so I might as well sin, repent and be forgiven, and sin and repent and be forgiven, and sin and repent and be forgiven. Might as well do that, then. I heard Hyung Jin Nim say we’re going to be forgiven, so I might as well sin.” But then I have to ask you some questions. Number one: Will you truly be happy living as such, in the long run? When you go to the spirit world and your life is completely on display, transparently before all the spirits? Even though you may have been forgiven before God and True Parents, is it possible to think that every single spirit will also forgive you? When we go to this transparent world, when people realize that we have used grace for our own selfish purposes, for our own pleasure, used the sacrifice that had to be paid to free us from that sin, simply used it as a free ticket to sin, then won’t we receive some kind of condemnation from our ancestors? You see, it’s very often that people mistake grace and forgiveness as the ticket to sin, but that is completely false. Grace is the ticket from sin, to be free from it, not to indulge in it. That is why the debt of sin has to be paid.

Whatever religious system you look at, whether it be reincarnation or eternal life, there is debt, and that debt must be paid; whether it be in multiple lifetimes or the lifetime eternal, we have to pay the price. There is no free lunch. It is the most basic economic principle and a spiritual principle as well. That is why we need to understand, and myself I need to understand, even though I follow and obey the laws of True Parents. When I realized and admitted that still I was a sinner, then I could embrace True Parents as my Lord and Savior. Only a sinner needs a savior. If I’m perfect, without sin, I don’t need a savior, I don’t need True Parents; I can turn my back. They’re useless to me, they’re just a teacher that my parents follow.

But I am a sinner; I may have followed all the big laws, but I am still a sinner. Even if we follow all the big laws to perfection, because we are fallible human beings, we sin, even in small ways. This is the price that True Parents had to pay: the price of the seven deaths and resurrections, going through the imprisonments and the sufferings and the tortures, descending into hells so that we could be free from our eternal price. When I realized that, then I could accept True Parents into my heart as the Lord and Savior who saves me from sin, frees me from sin and gives me eternal life.

Let’s look at the final portion of Luke chapter 7. This is very powerful. This is Luke 7:44-48. Let’s read this together: “Then he turned towards the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet. But she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Do you not give me a kiss? But this woman, from the time I entered has not stopped kissing my feet. Do you not put oil on my head? But she poured perfume on my feet. Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven, for she loved so much. But he who has been forgiven little, loved little.’ Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’” Aju.

To truly know freedom and to truly appreciate it, you must understand what was paid for that freedom. Ironically, if you know that you are a prisoner to sin, then you are freed from it; you can taste the sweetness and wonder of that freedom. You don’t want to go back to the sin. The woman in this chapter of Luke knew what it was like to be a sinner. She lived that life condemned by society, outcast. But Jesus acknowledged her adoration for him. He tells Simon that even though Simon is the one who invited him, who calls him teacher, who is his disciple whom he has healed, that he does not compare to this sinner. Simon did not wash Jesus’ feet, but she did. Simon did not greet Jesus with a gift but she kept kissing his feet, the lowest part.

In the Indian and Middle Eastern traditions, because they walked around with sandals and bare feet, the feet were the dirtiest part. So kissing the feet is a common tradition in India as well. But she kissed the feet. Simon did not anoint Jesus with oil, but she anointed his feet with expensive perfume. So, Jesus says to her, her many sins are forgiven for she loved much. He acknowledges her love. Notice that the disciple was condemned here. He condemned the sinner, the woman who was the outcast, but Jesus did the opposite. Jesus condemned the self-righteous disciple.

When we look at the story, we can draw a parallel to our own church. Simon is the disciple, like our Unificationists, our blessed families, blessed children who serve the Lord of the Second Advent. We think we are righteous because we follow him. The woman is like a new member or a blessed child who has fallen away but returns and repents. The disciple, in arrogance, judges the new member. In his heart, he believes he is better than him, morally higher. But the Lord reminds us not to be such people. Here, the new member shows greater love and reveals the fact that the older member is not really serving the Lord even though he says he believes in him. The old member is not even giving water to the Lord’s feet, but the new member is washing the Lord’s feet with her tears. The old member does not greet the Lord with praise and gifts, but the new member greets the Lord at his feet, thanking him, kissing his feet. The old member is not even anointing the head, the cleanest, most holy part of the person, but the new member is anointing the dirtiest part, the feet, with expensive perfume. Notice that Jesus makes Simon realize that even though he was self-righteous and thought he was so piously following the Lord, that he was not even better than the sinner that he condemned.

Next week, True Parents will be giving a speech during the Seung Hwa Ascension ceremony in Las Vegas. Las Vegas is known as Sin City. It is probably the most sinful city in the world, the most decadent… everything goes. But True Parents are entering into Las Vegas and they’re doing the Seung Hwa Ascension ceremony. They’re shouting out to Las Vegas. They’re telling Las Vegas, with all the sin that is there, that there is an afterlife, that we have to think about the life after death; that we all will die one day; that we may seek the fleeting pleasures, the ‘lights of Vegas’, but in the end we all die and pass away. Father is reminding the whole city, America, and the world that we will die one day. We must think of our eternal life.

Father, at the same time, is reminding us, those who believe and follow him, to not become self- righteous ourselves. To remember that we, too, go to Heaven and our lives are transparent before the world. If we have condemned much, we will also receive condemnation. In the Seung Hwa Ascension speech, True Father said an incredible, striking thing, a thing we haven’t heard a lot in our movement. He says that it is not enough that you receive the Blessing, the transference of lineage, which we saw as the primary, holy sanctification that you have to go through as

Unificationists. The transference of lineage, this beginning of a true family, blessed family; Father says that is not enough. But until the day that we ascend, until our Seung Hwa Shik Ceremony, we cannot enter the realm of Heaven. He’s reminding us all, even if we think we’re perfect, even if we’ve obeyed all the commandments, to not fall into the hubris of the Archangel. We all need to repent. We all need to live a life that testifies to the Lord, and to True Parents, not just as our spiritual parents, but as our Lord and Savior, because we have sinned and we need a savior. This Savior who frees us from the chains of sin; who pays the price to ransom us from individual, to family, to tribe, to universal level; who brings deliverance and salvation and gives us eternal life, with God’s love…God’s grace. This is amazing! Let’s give it up for True Parents! Let’s give it up for their incredible grace! (Applause)

This is why I love the song that the Two Rivers Choir sang, ‘This is what it means to be free’! If you don’t believe you’re a sinner, you’re not going to know the power of that song. But if you know that you’re a sinner and you need a savior and you need forgiveness, you’re going to know the power of that song. You’re going to feel what it means to be free, that mercy gives you the wings to soar like the eagle, the freedom not to sin but the freedom from sin. That’s totally different.

I want to end with True Father’s words that he’s going to give in his speech in the Seung Hwa Ascension Ceremony next week. Let’s read this last portion together: ‘No one born in today’s world, without receiving the Marriage Blessing and Seung Hwa Blessing which I give freely as the True Parent bridging the divide between God and humankind, which came to be as a result of the fall of the first human ancestors. Please take this point seriously. In this age God has proclaimed the Heavenly Calendar. It is a serious time. Now is a time in which all 6.5 billion in the world must understand my teachings that I bequeath as the True Parent who is responsible to give eternal life to all of humankind.’ Aju.

Hyung Jin Nim reads True Father’s and True Mother’s prayer.

Let’s bow our heads in a final prayer. Let us raise our hands towards the heavens. Let us offer our prayers. Dearest, most beloved Heavenly Parents, we thank you so much that you are present here in our midst, that you are here with your incredible grace and mercy. That you give us freedom from sin, that you give us new life. You gave us sight when we were blind. You give us new life and resurrection from death. Father, we want to thank you this day because it is when we recognize that, no matter how perfect or self- righteous we were, that before the throne of God, we are all sinners. When we recognize that fact of humility, we can come before you in necessity, come before you knowing that we need the savior whom you have sent for the salvation of humankind. Father, it is when we receive the ultimate grace that True Parents have had to walk to pay that price, the grace of True Love and True Life and True Lineage, Father, we can connect to you in the most profound way, the way that you wanted from the beginning of time. Father, we pray that we can be those original ancestors, be the kind of apostles who see and understand the value of the Christ who has returned and can be those apostles who go out and proclaim, who no longer fear the masses but who are strong in faith and in love and in your grace. We thank you so much, for we have been forgiven by you, and Father, we want to offer our gratitude this day. We want to bow down before you, before True Parents who had to walk the physical life to pay that indemnity and we want to offer grace and thanks to them. Father, we thank you this day. We now realize why it is you who gives us freedom and why you are a God of freedom. Through your grace, we have freedom, not to sin, but we have the freedom from sin. Father we pray that you may anoint us this day. Bless us this day and let us become greater and greater children for the glory of your sake. We pray these things in our own names, as Central Blessed Families, in the name of True Parents. Aju.

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