The Lord, in His essence, is perfect, infinite love given form through perfect, infinite wisdom. Because He is love, and love wants something to give itself to, he created human beings so that we could accept his love and return it, and thus be conjoined with Him.
Two things had to be done for this to work. First, we had to be structured so we would fit into a state of union with the Lord – which means we had to be forms of love and wisdom ourselves. Second, we had to be free to reject the Lord’s love, or the choice would be meaningless (in fact, if we were purely good, with no choice, we would be extensions of the Lord; in that case loving us would the Lord loving Himself, which is contrary to His nature).
The things that make us human, then, are the fact that we have thoughts and feelings (thoughts come from wisdom; feelings come from love), and that we can choose – in freedom – to use those thoughts and feelings to open ourselves up to the Lord’s love and be conjoined to Him.
And how do we do that? By bringing our thoughts and feelings into line with the Lord’s love and wisdom, so His love and wisdom can flow into us. We accomplish this first through our thoughts, which are more external and more under our control than our feelings are. We can fill our minds with the Lord’s teachings through the Word, through ministers, teachers and parents and through the wisdom of people around us. Using those ideas of what is right and wrong, we can force ourselves to stop doing what is wrong and instead do what is right. If we stick to it out of a desire to be good people, the Lord will start rewarding us with joy in doing the right thing, and will eventually change how we feel so that we genuinely love to do what’s good.
If we do that, we will eventually become angels – who are also human, people who once lived in our world and followed the Lord. If we don’t, instead letting selfish loves rule us, we will eventually become evil spirits in hell – who are also human, though barely so, since they reject the Lord’s love.
An interesting aspect of this is the role of freedom. Free choice is essential to our humanity, but it seems like the more we force ourselve to follow rules the less freedom we have, until as angels we do nothing but obey. Following our urges and doing whatever we want seems like a much greater degree of freedom. This, however, is exactly wrong on a spiritual level. If we follow our urges we will end up desiring only evil. Since evil wants only to hurt and dominate others, we will face constant obstacles and resistance to our desires. That will be all the more true in hell, where the Lord prevents evil spirits from doing any actual long-term harm. On the other hand, if we force ourselves to be hind and loving, the Lord will eventually fill us with the desire to be kind and loving – and in heaven, with everyone in such a state, there is no need for rules at all. Every angel does exactly what he or she wants to do.
There is one other aspect of humanity that is worth mentioning. The Writings also tell us that because both heaven and the natural world were created by the Lord, they are in human form just as we are. That means every aspect of life has some analogy to the human body, and to the human spirit. Since humanity is modeled on the Lord, this also means that every aspect of heaven and earth has some analogy to the nature of the Lord. Think about this next time you go for a hike – every leaf on every tree could tell us something about the Lord, if only we could understand it. And every leaf on every tree could tell us something about ourselves, as well.
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This video is a product of the Swedenborg Foundation. Follow these links for further information and other videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/offTheLeftEye and http://www.Swedenborg.com