Our Fellowship with God
If we wish to know how we stand with God, let us examine ourselves and see how we feel toward our neighbor. This companionship that we are seeking with God is found in the friendliness we show our neighbor. It is evident that our actions, our words, and our thoughts indicate too plainly our failure to seek fellowship with the Father. Let us examine ourselves that we may know what is buried in our hearts and minds that may be blinding us or binding us; and if we have anything against another, let us pray for forgiveness, knowing that His mercy is sufficient for all.
Seek God where He may be found, even in the heart of a neighbor. How well do we know God? Just as well as we seek to know and understand our fellow human beings, and just as well as we seek to magnify the divine consciousness in them. Do we seek far for the Divine in this direction? Do we not judge our neighbors from appearances rather than by righteous judgment? Do we not often overlook the motive which may have prompted their misconduct? Do we realize that deep down in the heart of our neighbors there lies buried a celestial fire that burns ever before the altar of our God? Then let us seek them out and, in spite of the rebuffs that we may receive, love them, not for what they appear to be, but for what they really are-not because they are human and need our sympathy, but because within them there is the Divine that merits our adoration.
What is more beautiful than fellowship! The Master sought it, that He might do the works of God. He did not withdraw from people, but mingled with them, sharing their sorrows, living their lives, and relieving their sufferings. We cannot hope to emulate His example, however, unless we abide in the Spirit that gives the strength. "I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing." The Master taught that love and service go hand in hand. What greater love could He have shown than to lay down His life in service for His fellow human beings; yet that is just how far the Master went to demonstrate His power over sin, death, and the grave, that those who seek life might know the way. May the Spirit help us to be willing to serve, and to see in our neighbor his or her higher self at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances.
If we would have fellowship, we must rely on His promises and keep His commandments, which are not grievous. The greatest commandment "that ye love one another," He called a new commandment, and it is still new to many of His followers.
We affirm that we want to know God, but do we really mean it? If we are really sincere, will we not be eager to sacrifice our desires, our opinions, and our whims, that the wonders found in the knowledge and understanding of the works of the Creator, our God and Father, may be revealed to us? May we not be willing to endure, that we may be counted worthy to share in the glory to be revealed to those who have given themselves wholly to His service? How easy the way when self is lost in Him! How easy to follow when we have been told to use what we have and more will be given.
Let us remember the Master's words to Simon: Teed my sheep." None of us can approach the Father with any degree of assurance when we feel and know in our hearts that we are out of harmony with ourselves or others. We are out of harmony with ourselves when we lack faith in ourselves, or when we minimize the power of the God within and forget that all power in heaven and earth is committed to our keeping-if we will attune ourselves to the Infinite Source of that power. We are out of harmony with others when we think of them as less divine than ourselves or as possessing less divine power, love, and mercy. Therefore, it is necessary to begin with ourselves to purge our hearts and minds and to become more conscious of the divine Spirit within others. This is necessary if we hope to have the fellowship with the Father that will cause us to realize our oneness with Him.
Prayer and meditation are the essential factors that will keep alive within us this perfect harmony. Are we seeking this fellowship? Would we have God draw nigh unto us? If so, then let us draw nigh unto God, approaching often the Throne of Grace, with mercy in our hearts.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked," that is, the unregenerated heart, the heart that knows not the cleansing of the Spirit or the awakening of the presence of God. Let us search our hearts. "If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things." He knows our joys and sorrows; He knows how we have tried and, therefore, in spite of our failures, shows love and mercy. If our hearts condemn us not, then we have faith in God, faith that He will keep His promises.
Let us be ever ready to forgive. This is the way that God deals with us. He has pardoned our sins and blotted out our transgressions. How much more should we be willing to forgive others! If the thoughts, deeds, or acts of others have caused us pain, let them not be magnified in our own mind or charged to their account. Let us who have pledged our loyalty bear the cross, since we have the promise of the crown. Let us help our fellow human beings by our patience and forbearance and show them that love is a living thing. What great love hath the Father bestowed upon us that we might show forth His glory among all people!