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21 STEPS TO A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING

Step 16: Deepening Fellowship  

We are sharing our spiritual lives more fully with each other and growing more unified in friendship. We increasingly appreciate, respect, trust, and rely on each other.

For human friendships to flourish, trust must grow, which only comes through increasing disclosure of our inner selves. Until we become willing to open ourselves to our friends, they cannot learn who we are and what we truly care about. Some guard their inner selves like rivet-studded vaults, airtight and impregnable, lest others see the isolation and fears that dwell therein. Bats fly in search of an exit, and finding none, return to brood in darkness.

Friends sustain us when we know not the way and our sky is leaden with the ashes of broken dreams. When the evening comes too late and the morrow too soon, when sparrows desert their young to the eagle’s claw, a friend’s presence settles fear like rain a dusty road. Our friends stay with us in trouble, save us from loneliness, surround us with love, share our joys, and strengthen us to fight life’s battles. We are safer and stronger when they are near, for if the enemy breaks through the walls, we fight together, side by side.

Isolation is painful, no matter how close our relationship with God. Fleeing loneliness in shallow relationships, it becomes more real. Without friends, even in a crowded room we are hopeless, helpless, and miserable. The Father’s kingdom is one in which we serve together; it is never a solitary experience. We derive strength from knowing that our friends care for us and would never betray our trust. We share life’s roads and work together to achieve life’s ends.

The Master sent his followers forth two and two, that they not become discouraged by loneliness. The best friendships are among those who love God, who are dedicated to purposes beyond the skies, who are willing to be wave-tossed in pursuit of dreams. Two and two we are stronger by the square, shirts starched against life’s acid vapors. Two and two we do God’s will and find his house past the far field’s brambles. We need each other to know the Father, for he lives not only in our hearts, but in our brother’s glance. Earthly friendship reveals both God and life on the heavenly worlds.

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REFERENCES

These are the angels who seek to divest the associations of intelligent beings of all artificiality while endeavoring to facilitate the interassociation of will creatures on a basis of real self-understanding and genuine mutual appreciation. 39:3.4

Intellectually, socially, and spiritually two moral creatures do not merely double their personal potentials of universe achievement by partnership technique; they more nearly quadruple their attainment and accomplishment possibilities. 43:8.11

And of all forms of evil, none are more destructive of personality status than betrayal of trust and disloyalty to one's confiding friends. In committing this deliberate sin, Caligastia so completely distorted his personality that his mind has never since been able fully to regain its equilibrium. 67:1.3

Spiritual growth is mutually stimulated by intimate association with other religionists. 100:0.2

Happiness and joy take origin in the inner life. You cannot experience real joy all by yourself. A solitary life is fatal to happiness. Even families and nations will enjoy life more if they share it with others. 111:4.7

Personality cannot very well perform in isolation. Man is innately a social creature; he is dominated by the craving of belongingness. It is literally true, "No man lives unto himself." 112:1.16

Sometimes Thomas would get permission from Andrew to go off by himself for a day or two. But he soon learned that such a course was not wise; he early found that it was best, when he was downhearted, to stick close to his work and to remain near his associates. 139:8.11

Many noble human impulses die because there is no one to hear their expression. Truly, it is not good for man to be alone. Some degree of recognition and a certain amount of appreciation are essential to the development of human character. Without the genuine love of a home, no child can achieve the full development of normal character. Character is something more than mere mind and morals. Of all social relations calculated to develop character, the most effective and ideal is the affectionate and understanding friendship of man and woman in the mutual embrace of intelligent wedlock. 160:2.6

Every human being sooner or later acquires a certain concept of this world and a certain vision of the next. Now it is possible, through personality association, to unite these views of temporal existence and eternal prospects. Thus does the mind of one augment its spiritual values by gaining much of the insight of the other. In this way men enrich the soul by pooling their respective spiritual possessions. Likewise, in this same way, man is enabled to avoid that ever-present tendency to fall victim to distortion of vision, prejudice of viewpoint, and narrowness of judgment. Fear, envy, and conceit can be prevented only by intimate contact with other minds. 160:2.7

Isolation tends to exhaust the energy charge of the soul. Association with one's fellows is essential to the renewal of the zest for life and is indispensable to the maintenance of the courage to fight those battles consequent upon the ascent to the higher levels of human living. Friendship enhances the joys and glorifies the triumphs of life. Loving and intimate human associations tend to rob suffering of its sorrow and hardship of much of its bitterness. The presence of a friend enhances all beauty and exalts every goodness. 160:2.8

Personality association and mutual affection is an efficient insurance against evil. Difficulties, sorrow, disappointment, and defeat are more painful and disheartening when borne alone. Association does not transmute evil into righteousness, but it does aid in greatly lessening the sting. Said your Master, "Happy are they who mourn"--if a friend is at hand to comfort. There is positive strength in the knowledge that you live for the welfare of others, and that these others likewise live for your welfare and advancement. Man languishes in isolation. 160:2.9

"Judas is no more with you because his love grew cold, and because he refused to trust you, his loyal brethren. Have you not read in the Scripture where it is written: 'It is not good for man to be alone. No man lives to himself'? And also where it says: 'He who would have friends must show himself friendly'? And did I not even send you out to teach, two and two, that you might not become lonely and fall into the mischief and miseries of isolation? You also well know that, when I was in the flesh, I did not permit myself to be alone for long periods. From the very beginning of our associations I always had two or three of you constantly by my side or else very near at hand even when I communed with the Father. Trust, therefore, and confide in one another." 193:3.2

 



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