Living in the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” –– Matt. 6:33
“Now is an amazing time, when human beings in their everyday life can experience the absolute realm of God… People will increasingly be able to perceive God. They will perceive the spirit world and the works of spirits… [P]eople will undergo definite changes to their character and become true individuals. They will no longer be self-centered in relating to greater wholes in the universal order of being. They will learn to be altruistic, living for the sake of others.”
—World Scripture and the Teachings of Sun Myung Moon, Feb. 6, 2004, p. 25
by Henry Christopher, UTS Class of 1980
I joined the Unification Church three times before I decided to stay: in Boston in June 1973; in New York City just before Father’s speech at Carnegie Hall that September; and lastly, at Dr. David Ang’s center in Worcester, Massachusetts in spring 1974.
I left the Church even though I believed the Divine Principle and that Rev. Sun Myung Moon was the returning Christ. What drove me away was the chaotic way in which the Church functioned, which often resulted in sacrificing a loving and spiritual atmosphere inside the movement that was proclaiming True Love.
Over the fall and winter of 1973-74, while I worked in Florida, I began an intense study of the Bible and the lives of Jesus and Saint Francis. I wanted to become like them—to feel that same love from God that they felt, and to love others as they could. I was inspired by Jesus’ teaching that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
By spring 1974, I had a showdown prayer with God on the beach, and made a commitment to dedicate my life to Him, and to start by returning to the Unification Church and to give it my wholehearted effort for three months, and see where God would lead me.
I worked very hard at fundraising, struggling to get my totals up each day, often with tears in my eyes at the end of the day. Dr. Ang then sent me to 100-Day Training at Belvedere, and almost before we could unpack, we went to Barrytown to prepare for the Three Day Prayer and Fast that was to take place on the steps of the Capitol Building on July 22. It was almost three months to the day that I came back to the Church.
The next morning at Barrytown, I suddenly saw the sun rising over the trees — a huge brilliant orange ball. My first thought was, “God, you have made such a beautiful world for us to live in which we love, but it is sad that we don’t feel thankful to you for it.”
In a flash, God poured pure love down my entire body from the top of my head right to the bottom of my toes. It literally washed away my sin, fears, and sadness—everything. In an instant, I was transformed. I felt so free and joyful I couldn’t believe what happened to me. I felt love for everyone and so happy to talk to anyone. No bad feelings or thoughts came to me the whole day on the trip to Washington and I went to sleep that night feeling wonderful. I thought this must be what it feels like to be a perfected individual of love.
When I awoke the next morning, I was back to “normal”—same old troubles and worries. But I took this extraordinary experience as a sign from God that I was in the right place doing the right thing for Him and myself.
This single spiritual experience has allowed me to remain for over 40 years in a church that has continued to be chaotic, disorganized and all too often unable to put into practice in its own ranks the wonderful principles and message of love that Rev. Moon has asked us to give to the world.
A lot has changed in the world, in our Church and in the lives of each one of us in the past four decades, but I can never forget that experience of God’s love. I still have a dream that some day, I will be able to recapture that love, not just for a day, but for all time.
Deep in my heart I know that Jesus’ cry that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,” and Rev. Moon’s declaration that we are living in a time when we will be able to experience “the absolute realm of God,” is now. It is for us to achieve.
What is exciting is that many people of every religious, ethnic, national, and philosophical background are also feeling that we are living in a time of spiritual awakening, which is driving the urge in humankind for deeper experiences of God’s love, freedom and peace.
People instinctually seem to sense this and are searching for new avenues to experience God. In her famous book, The Secret, Rhonda Byrne teaches that everyone can connect to the universal energy of love through the “law of attraction.” Good thoughts coupled with a heart of gratitude and loving feelings vibrate on a frequency that will attract all the good things you want. Just ask, believe you will receive, and put yourself in the frame of mind that you have already received what you have asked for from a loving Universe, and you will get it, she explains.
James Redfield wrote a series of books starting with The Celestine Prophecy, published in 1993. Written as a fiction adventure novel, the main character goes on an epic journey of discovery in Peru, where an ancient manuscript has been discovered revealing nine “insights” that in the fullness of time are meant to guide humankind to a higher understanding of our lives and purpose on earth, and teach us how to use them to spiritually transform ourselves into loving beings by re-connecting with the universal energy of God’s Love.
In Redfield’s three subsequent books, three more “insights” are revealed, leading the protagonist to Tibet and the mythical Buddhist community of Shambhala, a village of perfectly loving people. In his last book, The Twelfth Insight, the protagonist, and a group of men and women from a variety of religious backgrounds, go to Mount Sinai in Egypt, where they elevate their spiritual frequencies to the level of opening “our consciousness enough to reach the actual Presence of the Divine,” which connects with millions around the world and prevents a brewing world war ready to be ignited by religious conflicts.
One photographer’s notion of Shambala.
A few days before I read his The Secret of Shambhala, my daughter asked me where was I going that day. In jest, I said I was going up to the Catskill Mountains to look for a community of souls who had attained perfect love. But the only problem, I added, is that they have developed spiritually to such a degree, like Jesus, that they have the ability to make themselves and their dwellings invisible to ordinary people.
“Sure, Dad,” she said. Then I began reading the novel and discovered the central theme is that the protagonist must first elevate his spiritual energy to the level of the people living in Shambhala in order to be able to see and communicate with them once he finds their location high in the Tibet’s mountains.
In a speech Rev. Moon gave in Korea on his birthday in 2004 that I attended, he said with the fall of Adam and Eve, all humankind lost the use of its spiritual senses and our ability to communicate with God. We became only half-human, with only our physical senses left.
Then again, in Korea in 2006, he said, “I hope that you will open your five spiritual senses as quickly as possible so that you may clearly perceive how the providence of Heaven is unfolding in this era.”
I have a dream, a vision, or some might say a fantasy: to start a Kingdom of Heaven on Earth School. If I were to apply the lessons in The Secret, the universe would deliver up the funds to buy a nice home on a few acres overlooking the Hudson River to house our school. Then, with a few likeminded souls, we would go on a spiritual adventure to open our spiritual senses and seek out communication with the spiritual world and “experience the absolute realm of God.”
We would begin to cultivate God’s love in such a way that my experience of living in that love for one day 40 years ago could happen everyday. We would become fully human like Adam and Eve before the Fall, able to talk with God and the angels.
Perhaps Christ and God are anxiously waiting for humankind to transition in this way into the Kingdom of Heaven and finally bring peace and prosperity on Earth for all humankind.♦