A Sermon by Rev. Geoffrey S. Childs
Preached in Toronto, Canada on June 22, 1986
“Why do you spend money for what is not bread? and your labor for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance” (Isaiah 55:2).
On June 20th, 1770, the twelve disciples proclaimed throughout the spiritual world the new gospel, the gospel that the Lord God Jesus Christ reigns.
This teaching is the great motto, the primary truth, of the second coming, for the doctrine of the glorification is the chief doctrine of the New Church. And the primary of this doctrine is that there is one only God of heaven and earth, who is the glorified Jesus Christ: Love itself in human form. He is now immediately present.
Within this proclamation of the disciples are embodied all the truths of the Writings, for all these new truths spring from the one great truth of creation. And it may be safely assumed that when the disciples went on their mission in the other world to proclaim the Lord’s final coming, they taught more than the motto gospel we have mentioned. TCR 108 speaks of the twelve already working many months after June 19th on this project, working with zeal. They also taught those truths that reveal the actual nature of heaven. For in the world of spirits a true concept of heaven had been destroyed: the imaginary heavens blocked insight into the true nature of heaven.
The mission performed over two centuries ago by the twelve disciples in the other world is still being performed here on earth. It is being performed by the Lord’s new Word and those who love and believe it — by new disciples on earth. These disciples are the ministers and laymen of the church who love the new truth and burn to share it with others.
The chief truth taught by the disciples of the church on earth is that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only God — love itself, wisdom and compassion — and yet we are also to give the priceless new truths about heaven to those who seek. For if life ends with the grave, existence is almost pointless; but it does not so end, and the teachings about the reality of heaven are among the most crucial in the new Word.
The fundamental truth about heaven is this: heaven is a kingdom of uses. Interior delight in use — not simply continuous worship nor paradise only — is the joy of the angels. For service to the Lord and the neighbor is in heaven conjoined with wonderful happiness. All in heaven are in the delight of creative love, full of life and light and warmth. In natural, selfish states we see nothing delightful in service to others. In such states, only those efforts which will bring us gratification seem worthwhile. It is when we are uplifted by the Lord into unselfish states that we can appreciate the new truth about heaven.
One difficulty in appreciating heaven as a kingdom of uses is that on this earth we so seldom seem to find a real delight in “use” to others. It may be that our idea of “use to others” is too abstract. We associate it with something above and beyond ourselves — an ideal of service apart from everyday living, something spiritual and entirely religious. We think perhaps of use to others as being spiritual acts of charity to the neighbor, acts which are separate in some way from our everyday work.
Yet the heavenly ideal — use to the Lord and neighbor – – can be embodied in our everyday work. In fact, it should be. For every person is gifted by the Lord with a love for a particular natural occupation. The delight of his or her life is centered in some natural use: it may be homemaking, farming, mechanics, carpentry, computer programming, teaching, or any other of the myriads of natural occupations. The Lord has gifted each person with such a particular love because through it he may serve the neighbor and the Lord.
In his earthly occupation everyone has a choice. Either he or she may work solely or primarily for himself, looking strongly to the honor or money such work brings, or he may awaken, from the Lord and the Word, to a different goal.
The Lord asks, “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently unto Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance” (text). To spend money for what is not bread is to work for the rewards of mammon only. Spending wages for what does not satisfy is to use wealth for selfish or hedonistic purposes, which bring passing delight but fail to satisfy the inward spirit that longs for love and charity.
The Lord continues: “Listen diligently unto Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” This is to hear, from love, the words of the Lord as revealed in revelation. They speak to what is of innocence — to childhood remains and true adult resolutions. We open to such listening by loving the Lord, and showing this by shunning our leading evils as sins against Him. This asks us to be honest, to look deeply within — to find that specific form of love of dominion or greed that cripples our heart.
Sometimes it may take many years and many states to be open to such deep honesty. It is as the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda who had waited 38 years for some cure. It was only when he finally turned within — without bitterness or false defenses — and looked openly upon his heart that the Lord led him to see the evil he had been unwilling to admit. And this would come only with open, trusting prayer. He had seen this evil, admitted it to the Lord as a sin against Him, and started shunning it, and then he was fully prepared for a quiet miracle. Jesus Himself came up to him, knowing his change of heart. “Will you be cured?” When the man said, “Yes,” Jesus said, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And he found himself able to do this! Imagine his joy, his deeply moving joy!
In this state what happens is not some false rapture or euphoric, abstract elation. Rather, the spirit is touched with a new love of use, a wish from the heart to serve the neighbor. And this comes not as a duty but as a strong, quiet love, for one is then born of the spirit. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto you, you must be born again. The wind blows where it wills and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes; so is everyone who is born of the spirit.” This wind is the heart-moving breeze of heaven, and it sings into the heart as a love of use — a spiritual love of use.
Every particular natural use has a corresponding spiritual use. In fact, the natural occupation is caused by, and arises from, a spiritual occupation. This is true of every occupation that is in order.
After death a person who has loved his earthly occupation and has obeyed the Lord on earth finds in heaven a use that surpassingly delights him. His interest in his former natural occupation has died with the death of his body, and yet he finds himself a thousand times more delighted than man on earth, for delights in heaven far exceed delights on earth. And what is marvelous, if that person’s earthly occupation suited his dominant love, then in heaven he performs a use that exactly represents his former earthly work: a work that corresponds to it but is a thousand times more perfect and delightful, because it is on a more interior plane of the Divine proceeding — a discrete degree higher.
There are many examples given in Heaven and Hell 489 of this achieving a correspondent heavenly use. The earthly use is not given, but rather its correspondent in heaven. In one example, those in heaven are mentioned who find themselves to be predominantly in an “affection for truth itself” (HH 489:2). On earth this would include those who have a predominant love for the skills of their occupation, who love these skills above all else as a means to use, to help others.
Concerning such in heaven we read: they “dwell in the other life in light, in elevated places that appear like mountains, where they are continually in the light of heaven. They do not know what darkness is, like that of night in the world; they live also in a spring-like temperature; there are presented to their view fields filled with grain and vineyards; in their houses everything glows as if from precious stones; and looking through the windows is like looking through pure crystal. Such are the delights of their vision, but these same things are interiorly delightful because of their being correspondences of Divine heavenly things, for the truths of the Word correspond to fields of grain, vineyards, precious stones, windows and crystals” (Ibid.).
This external beauty exactly represents the heavenly uses these angels are performing. What is around them in spiritual nature corresponds to the love of use within them. In their interior uses, and the beautiful images around them, they find inexpressible delight.
This beauty of heaven, and its inward soul of use, is part of the new gospel. It is an essential part of our delight in the gospel proclaimed by the Lord’s twelve disciples on June 20th, 1770. For delight in use, on earth and in heaven, is what makes us spiritually alive. The love of the Lord is, in effect, the love of uses. To live the new gospel is to search out and sense spiritual uses. It is to fulfill the quotation of True Christian Religion 791: “Blessed are those that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9). For the marriage supper is found most of all in the joy of heavenly uses.
The Lord directly invites us, He asks us, to partake of this delight: “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently unto Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” Amen.
Lessons: Isaiah 55, Divine Love XIII:L
Divine Love XIII:L
So Far as Man Is in the Love of Use, So Far Is He in the Lord, So Far He Loves the Lord and Loves the Neighbor, and So Far He Is a Man.
From the love of uses we are taught what is meant by loving the Lord and loving the neighbor; also what is meant by being in the Lord and being a man. To love the Lord means to do uses from Him and for His sake. To love the neighbor means to do uses to the church, to one’s country, to human society, and to the fellow citizen. To be in the Lord means to be a use. And to be a man means to perform uses to the neighbor from the Lord for the Lord’s sake. To love the Lord means to do uses from Him and for His sake for the reason that all the good uses that man does are from the Lord; good uses are goods, and it is well known that these are from the Lord. Loving these is doing them, for what a man loves he does. No one can love the Lord in any other way, for uses, which are goods, are from the Lord, and consequently are Divine; yea, they are the Lord Himself with man. These are the things that the Lord can love. The Lord cannot be conjoined by love to any man, and consequently cannot enable man to love Him, except through His own Divine things, for man from himself cannot love the Lord; the Lord Himself must draw him and conjoin him to Himself; and therefore, loving the Lord as a person and not loving uses is loving the Lord from oneself, which is not loving. He that performs uses or goods from the Lord performs them also for the Lord’s sake. These things may be illustrated by the celestial love in which the angels of the third heaven are. These angels are in love to the Lord more than the angels in the other heavens are, and they have no idea that loving the Lord is anything else than doing goods which are uses, and they say that uses are the Lord with them. By uses they understand the uses and good works of ministry, administration, and employment, as well with priests and magistrates as with merchants and workmen; the good works that are not connected with their occupation they do not call uses; they call them alms, benefactions, and gratuities.