If we see that “I’m OK–You’re OK” is at last within the realm of possibility, do we dare look for change, something new under the sun, something to stop the violence threatening to destroy what has taken millions of years to build?
Teilhard de Chardin stated: “Either nature is closed to our demands for futurity, in which case thought, the fruit of millions of years of effort, is stifled, stillborn, in a self-abortive and absurd universe. Or else an opening exists…”
We believe we have found an opening. The opening will be explored not by a nameless, corporate society but by individuals together in that society. The exploration can be made only as individuals are emancipated from the past and become free to choose either to accept or reject the values and methods of the past. Once conclusion is unavoidable: Society cannot change until persons change. We base our hope for the future on the fact that we have seen persons change. How they have done it is the good news of this book. We trust it may be a volume of hope and an important page of the manual for the survival of mankind.
Even when we truly understand these matters, the journey of spiritual growth is still so lonely and difficult that we often become discouraged. The fact that we live in a scientific age, while helpful in some respects, serves in others to foster discouragement. We believe in the mechanical principles of the universe; not in miracles. Through our science we have come to learn that our dwelling place is but a single planet of a single star lost amid one galaxy among many. And just as we seem lost amid the enormity of the external universe, so science has also led us to develop an image of ourselves as being helplessly determined and governed by internal forces not subject to our will—by chemical molecules in our brain and conflicts in our unconscious that compel us to feel and to behave in certain ways when we are not even aware of what we are doing. So the replacement of our human myths by scientific information has caused us to suffer a sense of personal meaninglessness. Of what possible significance could we be, as individuals or even as a race, buffeted about by internal chemical and psychological forces we do not understand, invisible in a universe whose dimensions are so large that even our science cannot measure them?
Yet it is that same science that has in certain ways assisted me to perceive the reality of the phenomenon of grace. I have attempted to transmit that perception. For once we perceive the reality of grace, our understanding of ourselves as meaningless and insignificant is shattered. The fact that there exists beyond ourselves and our conscious will a powerful force that nurtures our growth and evolution is enough to turn our notions of self-insignificance topsy-turvy. For the existence of this force (once we perceive it) indicates with incontrovertible certainty that our human spiritual growth is of the utmost importance to something greater than ourselves. This something we call God. The existence of grace is prima facie evidence not only of the reality of God but also of the reality that God’s will is devoted to the growth of the individual human spirit. What once seemed to be a fairy tale turns out to be the reality. We live our lives in the eye of God, and not at the periphery but at the center of His vision, His concern. It is probable that the universe as we know it is but a single stepping-stone toward the entrance to the Kingdom of God. But we are hardly lost in the universe. To the contrary, the reality of grace indicates humanity to be at the center of the universe. This time and space exists for us to travel through. When my patients lost sight of their significance and are disheartened by the effort of the work we are doing, I sometimes tell them that the human race is in the midst of making an evolutionary leap. “Whether or not we succeed in that leap,” I say to them, “is your personal responsibility.” And mine. The universe, this stepping-stone, has been laid down to prepare a way for us. But we ourselves must step across it, one by one. Through grace we are helped not to stumble and through grace we know that we are being welcomed. What more can we ask?
For as the body is clad in the cloth, and the flesh in the skin and the bones in the flesh and the heart in the whole, so are we, soul and body, clad in the goodness of God and enclosed. Yea, and more homely; for all these may wear and waste away, but the Goodness of God is ever whole.
Anyone who accepts what you do, accepts me, the One who sent you. Anyone who accepts what I do accepts my Father, who sent me. Accepting a messenger of God is as good as being God’s messenger. Accepting someone’s help is as good as giving someone help. This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.
Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.
Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.
Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.
No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.